Is it wrong to have a “College Edition” of something for which I have no other edition? Probably, but I’m not going to stop now. Not when I’ve come so far (What? Titles and first sentences can be hard to come up with).
So, my sophomore year at Western Michigan University found me living in one of the His House Campus Ministry houses, a stone’s throw from the center of campus, even closer to my classes than when I lived on campus the previous year. Plus, I was just around the corner from The Den Partystore, which sells 32 oz. fountain pops for 65 cents (though it was only 50 cents when I lived there).
One of the rules of living in a ministry house was always being hospitable. Our doors were never locked and there were always one or two non-residents hanging out on the main floor or in the basement. One of the purposes of the His House Campus Ministry was to be a safe and welcoming place, an expression of love to people in need, namely college students in need of somewhere to go between classes.
The residents (me and the three other guys who lived there) were supposed to be available to pray and talk with people whenever we were needed. We kept the house clean (more or less (less than more, if we’re being honest)). And there was always a get-together at the house after the main worship time on Thursday nights, usually accompanied by donated day-old bagels from Big Apple Bagels.
The problem with living in a house that is never locked, a place that is known for hospitality and free food, is that sometimes people would help themselves to the contents of the kitchen’s cupboards, which is where we residents would store the food that we bought with our own (precious!) money. Of course, I also know that the worse offenders were the other three residents, not the folks who were coming around for the free bagels and prayer.
And so, my cupboard was mostly bare but for a few essentials:
1. Kraft White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
Let’s face it, the White Cheddar version is just better than the orange cheese that comes in the original. I mean, sure, they are both made with some kind of powdered cheese packet so they can’t be all that good or good for you, but still. Why settle when it is only a difference of 10 cents.
2. Dinty Moore Beef Stew
How many people were disgusted when I would grab my can opener, open some beef stew, and dig right in with a spoon sans heating? Too many to count. How many probably thought that I was eating some kind of fancy dog food. The same. But come on, I can’t afford that fancy dog food.
3. Pork Brains in Milk Gravy
Why would I keep this in my cupboard? Not for eating, I’ll tell you that! Did you notice the cholesterol? 1170% of your daily allowance. The reason I kept it was because I wanted people to be wary of the type of person they were stealing food from. Would you really take food from someone who ate brains? Also, the can had a recipe for Brains and Eggs, I’m guessing for someone who wanted to commit a cholesterol-related suicide.
4. ‘Coon Urine
Is it food? Heavens no. But if someone saw the Pork Brains in Milk Gravy and was still debating whether to steal from my cupboard or not, I wanted this in there too. For those of you who don’t know, ‘Coon Urine is a thing that hunters use to mask their scent from the animals they are hoping to kill. You spray some on your boots and pants and instead of thinking, “There’s a human with a gun around here,” a deer or whatever will think, “There’s a raccoon with bladder issues around here.” Also, I would tell people that it was good on potatoes.