The Man Who Loved Chocolate MilkPosted: July 9, 2015
Some of you may think that I do nothing but sit around and produce weird ideas to give myself something to write about. While it is true that I do that a lot, it isn’t all that I do.
But seriously, I do it a lot.Whenever I’m not doing that, I’m doing something else. One of my somethings else is hiking with my wife. We’ll throw stuff in a backpack, put on boots and spend the day getting lost in the woods. As we walk, we get time to talk, exercise and see really amazing stuff.
Sometimes, if we want an additional challenge, we will take Clif Bars out of our backpacks. We eat them as we walk and pretend that they taste good. I would like hiking more if I had Chicken Parmesan in my back pack. Since I never do, I rely on my wife and the amazing stuff we see to make hiking fun.
This week we are in Oregon, enjoying a part of the country that neither of us has visited before. And it was on a hike during this vacation that I saw something that redefined amazing for me.
Slapping The Thoughts Out Of His Head
I love chocolate milk. It is creamy, because, y’know…milk. Chocolate just makes everything better.
When I was in Kindergarten, we got to have milk every day with our snacks. The nun who taught my class would ask each of us what kind of milk we would like. She’d write a note with the number of cartons of milk she’d need and send her pet student to go get the milk for the class.
Naturally, before that student could get out of the room she’d slap him in case he had any impure thoughts. A few minutes later, he’d return with a little wagon full of milk cartons. I always requested chocolate. Even when my peers tried to convince me that the white milk was vanilla flavored and just as good, I remained true to chocolate milk.
And I remained true to chocolate milk through college and even after I started to work. About a year after I started my career, my supervisor invited me to have coffee with him. This was a rite of passage in our work group; I was glad to be asked to be there. Unfortunately, I don’t drink coffee, so I ordered chocolate milk. I wasn’t invited back to have a break with the boss for six months.
But my love for chocolate milk has never faded. I’ll still order it in restaurants. It doesn’t bother me that the waiter silently but obviously judges me for my beverage choice. Life is too short to go without your favorites, isn’t it?
Well, I mean, to a point.
An Unmatched Feat Of Endurance, Or SomethingMy wife and I took on a fairly strenuous hike in the Columbia River Gorge area in the northern part of Oregon. The scenery was beautiful. There were massive trees, majestic rock formations and waterfalls. Lots and lots of waterfalls. We saw so many waterfalls that I decided that when water wants to dance, it comes to Oregon.
But Mother Nature did not provide the most amazing thing that I saw.
We started our hike a popular spot in the area, Multnomah Falls. Our route took us several miles behind the falls, looped through the hilly terrain and brought us back. We set out from the base of the falls with hordes of people. Most turned headed back when the path reached the top of the falls. That left us with miles and miles of quiet and nature to enjoy.
As we walked, we’d come upon other hikers who, like us, had backpacks full of stuff they’d brought “just in case”. Some were even trying to enjoy Clif Bars. But then we saw the most amazing thing – a man who liked chocolate milk even more than I do.
Yes, it seemed impossible, but there he was, two miles into the initial uphill portion of the hike. He was a man who did not have the requisite backpack full of stuff to support himself during his trek. He carried only one item – a plastic, one-gallon jug of chocolate milk. We spotted him as he stopped for a break. He was unscrewing the top of the jug as we went by.
Now, I think that I’ve established that I like chocolate milk. But a gallon of milk is one of the most awkward things in the world to carry. There’s a handle, but it isn’t large enough for an adult to get their hand in. Typically, I end up carrying it with two or three fingers and the plastic seam on the inside of the handle digs in to my fingers. I don’t mind carrying milk from the car to the house, but I’m not interested in toting it further. Carrying a gallon of chocolate milk for miles into the wilderness is an incredible feat.
Clearly, this was a man who loves chocolate milk in ways that I can’t match. His endurance was a tribute to his devotion to the beverage. I thought about him as I walked, sipping my water.
I decided he was probably that know-it-all from kindergarten who thought he was so cool with his little wagon full of milk for the class. Forty something years later, I’d rediscovered him, alone with a gallon of chocolate cow juice, deep in the Oregon woods. I don’t think he recognized me, but I know it was him.
I wouldn’t say that someone who carried a gallon of chocolate milk that far was guilty of having impure thoughts. Of course, I’m not a nun, so who am I to judge impure thoughts? I just know that anyone who’d carry milk that kind of distance has gone way past impure thoughts. That, my friends, is a sign of chocolate milk addiction. There isn’t a nun alive that can slap that out of him.