I used to judge people who ate ramen noodles.
They are the epitome of the broke, clueless college kid stereotype. They are the most meager form of sustenance. No cooking skill or dignity required! I ate them all the time when I did this college-experience summer program in high school, when I was scared and alone and broke in another state. Ramen tastes like loneliness to me. I had more class, I had more dignity, I had more RESOLVE than to stoop to eating ramen noodles ever again.
And there I was in the Harris Teeter on Sunday, holding a 12-pack of chicken flavored ramen and wondering just how low I'd fallen.
Frequently visiting someone who does not own a working oven or a well-stocked pantry has forced me to eat ramen on multiple occasions. (The things we do for love!) I'll admit, it was tolerable and filling and not too awful. I'd been looking for ways to cut my food budget for the summer, because my craving for calzones is an expensive one (and stems from another awkward story) and let's be real - I'm stuck in my college town doing nothing but working almost full time. I might as well save money. I might become one of those extreme couponers... so bored.
At Harris Teeter, I hold the 12-pack of chicken ramen for a good two minutes. Was I really that desperate to save money? Would I even eat it? Didn't I want to eat healthily? What would my housemates think? Would I be able to live with myself after stooping so low? Are my dreams of becoming a picture perfect Williams-Sonoma housewife forever crushed?
My stomach growls and I throw it into my cart, burying it under fresh organic vegetables and cake mix. I run through the grocery store at warp speed. Being caught with a gigantic pack of ramen would be more embarrassing than that time I ran into my crush at the drugstore with a jumbo box of tampons in my hand.
I thankfully make it throw my shopping list and arrive at the check-out counter. Unmarked vegetables and my aversion to self-checkouts placed in the line of a very pleasant cashier. She began scanning my items and a bag-boy appeared out of the woodwork.
"Plastic okay? WOAH that's a lot of ramen." The second half of the statement was directed at the cashier. "They make big packs of ramen? What for?"
The cashier laughed, "yeah, they got 48-packs down at Sam's Club."
"What you need that much ramen for? Who eats that much ramen?"
"Some people you know..."
"Haha wow, that's desperate."
DESPERATE. You are a bag boy at a grocery store, sir. I am standing right in front of you. I wanted to launch on a tirade about the time saving benefits or health aids, but I couldn't think of anything. And isn't that why I bought the ramen in the first place? Desperate. And too bored and lazy to cook.
I rushed out of the store and headed home... to cook myself a bowl of ramen. Was I embarrassed? Yes. Ashamed that I'd stooped so low? Yes.
But it tasted pretty damn good.