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And now that you are a bit smarter, two seemingly random and unrelated events…

1- As a high school student, I lucked out and went on two different five week summer exchange trips to Germany. It was an awesome time and I had many misadventures great experiences. Among those wonderful experiences was the day I didn’t. stop. eating.

As per our normal routine, I woke up with my host family and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Nothing unusual. Yet. We arrived at the school and I sat in two classes with my host sister, but I was not required to stay in school all day and therefore decided to indulge in my new found favorite food, currywurst with French fries. (Currywurt = Bratwurst covered in curry ketchup = yummy goodness) After scarfing down my somewhat early lunch (it was 10:30 in the morning) I met my host sister back at the school.

We were scheduled to meet some friends to hang out in the afternoon. ‘The Mom’ picked us up at the school and as we got into the car, she pulled out two bags of chips and encouraged us to dig in. After that small snack, we were on our way.

I love old cities in Europe. There is a fairy tale quality to the ancient cobblestone streets and small alleyways that work on the imagination

Bavarian town

So romantic!

of young, impressionable Americans. I don’t remember the name of the small city we went to that day; the memory of it has melted in with other pictures in my mind of the beautiful cities I was fortunate enough to visit. But it was sunny and warm, something you definitely take advantage of while you can in Europe.

We decided to get pizza for lunch. By this time it was sometime around 1pm. I didn’t have much money with me and therefore arranged to share half a pizza with my host sister. We all ate and laughed through lunch and I was impressed with ‘the mom’ being so cool.

After lunch, we headed back out into the city, but not for long. It started to rain. In Germany, the rain is usually pretty constant in the winter months, but not so much during the summer. Also, the rain doesn’t pour down in Germany the way it does in the southern United States where it seems as though not only have the heavens opened up, they have done so in the most violent way. So it caught us completely off guard when it rained in just that fashion and the temperature dropped precipitously. We hurried ourselves into the nearest restaurant- an ice cream parlor.

(Note about German ice cream parlors

German Spaghetti ice cream

Ice cream that looks like spaghetti. I usually got the chocolate version.

They have THE BEST ice cream ever because it is Italian ice cream. Super creamy and delicious.) So of course, despite my limited funds, I decided to splurge on an ice cream. Probably something chocolaty and wonderful; I don’t really remember.  (Another note- to stay in the ice cream parlor, we had to buy something. It was of no consequence to the owners that there was a flood outside. If we were going to take up space, we had to pay for it.)

After finishing our desert, we once more piled into the car and were off to the friend’s house for extra hanging out time. ‘The Mom’ wanted to stop at the grocery store and asked us what we liked as we were walking through with her. Vaguely, I found it odd that she wanted our opinion on what she should buy for her family.

At the house, we hung out in said friend’s room, gossiping about other people in the school and other students on the exchange.  At about 3pm or so, ‘the Mom ‘called us downstairs. We all filed down the stairs and into the dining room where we arranged ourselves around the table. Again, I was aware that something wasn’t entirely right. There were plates on the table and then ‘the Mom’ began bringing in plates of food. You know- the stuff we had just picked out.

Shocked, I asked, ‘What? Are we eating again?’ The response I got was a sound kick to my shin from underneath the table. I immediately shut my mouth and proceeded to put stuff on my plate. When there wasn’t enough on it, another kick to my shins was evidently in order and I was forced to cover my plate with more food. Somehow, I managed to eat everything I had been strong armed into putting on my plate, only to discover that there was desert, too. (It was here that I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth.)

I felt uncomfortable and gorged when I finally arrived back at home with my host family. It was about 5pm, but I had consumed much more that day than I could ever remember. I headed to my room and began to recount the day in my diary by writing about the numerous things I had eaten, how surprised I was that no one else was stuffed and how hard it was not to be rude. (Because it was expected that we eat what we were offered.)

About an hour later, my host sister called me down stairs. She had been with me all day, had eaten right along with me as my stomach felt more and more engorged. I met her in the dining room where she had a plate, two hot dogs and a roll for me on the table. I know my eyes had to have been saucers, but I dutifully sat down to the table and slowly began to eat. After the first hotdog, I looked and saw that while she was sitting with me, my host sister did not have a plate.

Me: Why aren’t you eating?

Host sister: Oh, I’m not hungry.

Me: (Stunned silence)

I didn’t finish the second hotdog.

2- Soldier Boy and I were in the last dramatic throes of our relationship as he was about to head to Korea for his mandatory ‘we hate families’ overseas tours the military likes to inflict upon its’ soldiers. black jackHe had about a week off from work before deploying and we took advantage of the time since I was in school and had a flexible schedule. Soldier Boy (and his family) liked to gamble. (My guess is, he still does, but since we no longer speak, I can’t verify this as a fact.) Anyhoo, he had gotten some extra money for his travels and decided that the casino was just the place to spend it.

He liked to play the Black Jack table and while he did manage to win some money at it, the gambling would become a problem later on. At the time, though, I went along to the casino with him and enjoyed his good mood while I could.

One night (since we went to the casino almost every night that week and he went on his own when I had class) I got bored of Black Jack.

slot machine

Yes! I won!

I took $10 to a quarter slot machine and walked away with $150 about an hour later. Though I have had occasion to go to casinos again, I have never repeated this success. I try to visualize winning, but it seems to be a lot more work than I want to do, really.

Now, why would these seemingly unrelated events be in any way related to each other?

So I was being my vacation self (read lazy and gluttonous), sitting on the couch after having finished a sandwich. I was feeling good because although the kids still needed to be fed, I didn’t need to think about what I was going to eat and there would be no settling for something I really didn’t want. MIL and SIL#2 (she’s second only because she is the youngest for the 2 SILs on Hubby’s side of the family) started talking about heading to the casino to use the free coupons they had for the buffet. When it was discovered that they had an extra coupon, the plan was expanded to include me. I hesitated taking them up on the invite since I had literally just finished off the sandwich, but decided that since it was free and since the opportunity to bond with them doesn’t come often, I should accept the generous offer. And I am very glad I did because although I did not win anything, my MIL was on a roll. And she kindly shared some of her winnings.

Serendipitous that things would work out that way. Don’t you think?

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