Soggy cereal

­Cheerios 3What is it about soggy cereal that makes it so revolting?  

Cereal is meant to be enjoyed while it is fresh, crisp, and crunchy.  There should be just enough milk added to moisten and lather the cereal flakes, but it should be eaten right away, before the onset of sogginess.

Once upon a time in a swampy section of Florida at a camp for teenagers, I embarked on a short-term missions trip.  The conditions were fairly rugged for this suburban young man.  We slept in tents and trudged around in boots.  The rules were shocking – strict, structured, and somewhat illogical for my inexperienced reasoning.  One of the rules was that you had to finish all the food one took at each meal – otherwise there were consequences – no exceptions.

I had a crush on Mya (her name has been changed to protect the innocent) since the day I first laid eyes on her – pretty, intelligent, talented, popular, and friendly – a dream.

I adored her in my awkward teenage boy way.

For some reason on this particular morning while eating breakfast at our Florida boot camp, Mya had to leave the eating area.  I don’t recall the reason, but certainly it was justifiable.  When she returned, our meal time had expired, and she had not finished her bowl of Cheerios, which was now absolutely soaked and soggy.


She had to finish her food or face more demerits.  Unfortunately for her, Mya had already accumulated her quota of demerits for the week.  She got all teary-eyed.  She could not swallow the soggy cereal nor could she return uneaten food to the galley tent and face the inevitable consequences of more demerits!

In an instant and without much thought, I stepped in and commenced eating her soggy cereal.  It was awful, and I could barely control the gag reflex, yet it had to be done.

I had to rescue this damsel in distress.

I demonstrated my valiant side.  Despite the gagging, I felt warm inside, since I was able to rescue the woman I adored.

Years (decades) have passed since that strange summer in missionary boot camp.  I was young and naïve.  I did love Mya in my immature, teenage way.  We maintained a friendship, and the next spring, she was my date to the Senior Prom.  We had a good time, but our relationship did not continue.  As much as I admired her, I was not ready.  Fortunately, she has lived a full life as wife, mother and faithful Christian.

I am happy for her.

This whole memory has significance, since it reveals some of my character and enduring values.

First off, I am willing to stretch the boundaries of rules if it is expedient or necessary for the situation.  In this case, it was forbidden to eat someone else’s breakfast.  I had and still retain a mischievous and rebellious side.  Thus, I violated the rules on Mya’s behalf.   I had no demerits yet, so I was able to bear the consequences.

Second, I am an agreeable person.  I will do what it takes to avoid conflict.  I didn’t want conflict inserted to our team (through Mya’s excessive demerits) and thus I was willing to absorb some of the punishment myself to help a teammate (and someone I adored).

Third, sometimes one can stomach (pun intended) more than what they think they can when there is love involved.

Love makes us act strange.

A young man’s ego is immense, and thus it will lead him to do things to impress a girl that he is fond of.  Hopefully this youthful exuberance will mature into a more wholesome sacrificial love.  However, it starts in these little acts of kindness and caring, and hopefully grows through time and experience to the sacrificial love that marks a true man.

What do you think?  Have you ever done something silly for the sake of love?


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About John Forrest