February is over and spring, in all of its wet, muddy glory, is right around the corner. The wind has replaced its winter edge with something less chilling, and daffodils are making their optimistic way up into the light, just in time for that early March frost.
With the advent of warmer weather, it is only to be expected that many more people will be inclined to spend their lunch breaks outside, soaking up the fresh air, the sunshine, and the occasional sparrow warbling from the branch of a nearby tree. So, for all of you who are unsure about outdoor lunch etiquette, or just need a refresher course after all of those months spent indoors hunched over café tables, here is...
A Brief Guide to Lunching in the Park
- Dress for the occasion. It may be sunny and almost unseasonably warm, but it is still officially winter, folks, and you never know when it will turn cold, rainy, snowy, icy, or possibly even start raining fish. All of these things prove most unpleasant when one is not properly prepared, so don’t forget your jacket, umbrella, scarf, pink fuzzy earmuffs, or whatever else you use to stay warm and comfortable.
- When choosing a bench, check carefully to make sure it is free of bird droppings and/or wet paint. Neither is a fashion statement you want to take back to the office.
- Be careful not to select a bench under a tree liable to drop twigs, nuts, leaves, or small mammals in your lunch.
- Also don’t select a bench too close to the road, unless you want your lunch to taste like a car’s exhaust pipe.
- Pigeons don't eat broccoli. But they do eat bread, cheese, nuts, brownies, crackers, peanut butter, french fries, that granola you're supposed to mix into your yogurt, and the trail of breadcrumbs that will lead you back to your cubicle, so be wary.
- Squirrels: cute? Yes. Safe? No. More threatening than your average pigeon, an experienced city squirrel will think nothing of hopping up beside you on the bench and fixing its beady little eyes on your sandwich, possibly with intent to snatch. As for how to get rid of them, I've found that a firm "No" combined with a meaningful look will do the trick. Or, you can wave your arms frantically in their direction while yelling "Beat it, you rotten little rodent!" which has the added attraction of amusing all of the squirrel-free lunchers around you. If you go this route, be sure to put your lunch down first.
- Beware when eating salad. Lettuce weighs less than a hamburger, and one gust of wind can snatch away half of your lunch while you're busy grabbing for the paper napkins you forgot to put safely out of harm's way.
- Other foods to beware of: jelly or powdered donuts, fruits that squirt at you, and anything requiring the use of more than one utensil at a time.
- Do watch the children playing on the playground. A little flashback to life before the rat race caught up with you will do wonders for your peace of mind.
- Don't go and join them on the teeter-totter. Save that for later, when there are fewer small children to whine to their parents about you taking up the space. Then go and play to your heart's content.
- Do donate your spare change to the busker providing the soundtrack for your lunch break, especially if you liked the music. He/She wants to buy an afternoon cup of coffee as much as you do.
- Don't be back late for work. Remember, the only thing more beautiful than a sunny day is a sunny day in which you don't get fired!
Now go out and enjoy your lunch!
After all, it will probably sleet tomorrow.
Sarah Ficke will make sport for you, and laugh at you in her turn. She has channeled her obsession for books into a career as an English professor.
ABOUT SARAH FICKE
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
2.27.02 @ 3:46p
Apparently you haven't been in Boston long enough. You've still got at least 4 months until Spring.
2.27.02 @ 3:48p
If you had been in Boston yesterday you would have thought Spring was coming too. And today, of course, it is snowing, which is more or less what I expected.
2.27.02 @ 3:50p
What if small mammals are your lunch?
2.27.02 @ 3:57p
3.11.02 @ 12:10a
Matt, Adam...this is "A Brief Guide to Lunching in the Park," not "A Brief Guide to Felching in the Dark."
3.11.02 @ 12:45a
I'm laughing at that, even though I'm supposed to be slightly outraged and a bit offended.
3.11.02 @ 1:39a
Sorry, Jack. I find Sarah's column to be (unintentionally) rife with good-natured homoerotic satirical imagery. Of course, I also find Matt and Adam to be rife with good-natured homoerotic satirical imagery most of the time.
3.11.02 @ 1:43a
It was unintentional, right, Sarah?
3.11.02 @ 6:31a
I am literally hitting "refresh" every few minutes just to see Adam's response to that, Russ...
3.11.02 @ 8:34a
This Thursday on Oprah: Dr. Phil Discusses How to Gain Control Over Fruits that Squirt At You!!
3.11.02 @ 9:46a
All I know is that last Thursday night, I found myself being hit on by a nice man named Troy who kept asking me to come home with him and fulfil his Russel Crowe fantasy. I politely declined. I don't know what that has to do with Sarah's column, but for some reason I was reminded.
What does it say about Russ, by the way, that he sees good-natured homoerotic satirical imagery in, apparently, everything? Jack?
3.11.02 @ 10:01a
Yes, Russ, it was unintentional, but in the best tradition of authors everywhere, I'm more than willing to claim it as part of my complex vision of life as set forth in this work. (sarcasm intended)
3.11.02 @ 11:22a
I don't know, Adam. Did his Russel Crowe fantasy involve squirrels or pigeons? Having small mammels for lunch?
3.11.02 @ 11:29a
I didn't get that involved in the details. He was a very nice young man who was just devastated when I told him I was straight.
3.11.02 @ 7:43p
"What does it say about Russ, by the way, that he sees good-natured homoerotic satirical imagery in, apparently, everything? Jack?"
I dunno. I'm a Jungian.
(I know this because my mother told me so. She was always yelling "C'mere, Jungian!")
3.11.02 @ 11:26p
Oh. My. God. Jack, that is the strangest combination of intelligent Southern humor I've ever heard.
F-in-a, I'm am STILL laughing at that! :)
3.12.02 @ 12:21a
I don't know how I missed this conversation all day...
I had to give the doctor a blood sample today, and Oliver took it. Right after he pinched both my (face) cheeks, told me how cute I was, commented on what great veins I had, then finished with, "I love a man with a great vein."
3.12.02 @ 1:12a
Who's Oliver, and why would you let him pinch your cheeks during a medical procedure?
3.12.02 @ 10:13a
I'm glad you weren't giving Oliver a stool sample.
3.12.02 @ 10:14a
You know Oliver - the cousin on the Brady Bunch.
3.12.02 @ 1:01p
Oliver was the lab tech who took my blood sample.
3.12.02 @ 5:39p
Adam, you get radical amounts of points for knowing (and using) that information.
Russ, you get points for proving to me that I could get an entire slice of watermelon to shoot out of my nose.