Jason Offutt: What’s on the menu? Not much

Staff Writer
The Examiner
The Examiner

If there’s one thing the Offutts know how to do, it’s clear a room.

Wait. I meant eat. If there’s one thing the Offutts know how to do, it’s eat. Then we may clear a room; it depends on what we ate.

My family is dedicated to eating — we know what we like and we’re good at it. We’ve achieved excellence the same way a football team prepares for the big game — with practice. We practiced so hard we discovered an extra meal between lunch and supper. It’s become the Offutt Motto, “Why snack when you can have lupper?”

“A winner never stops trying,” I recently said during early lupper, not to be confused with late lupper.

“Did you make that up?” one of the kids asked.

“No, it was Tom Landry.”

“Who’s Tom Landry?” asked another. Geez, who’s teaching these children?

“I don’t claim you anymore,” I told them. “Now be quiet and eat your jelly doughnut and bacon ranch sandwich.”

One thing the family has missed during the COVID-19 pandemic is going to restaurants. Restaurants are among the greatest inventions in the world, right up there with open heart surgery and flushing toilets.

For those of you suffering Pandemic Amnesia (I can’t even remember how to put on underwear), a restaurant is an air-conditioned building that smells like you want to taste it. If you’re like the Offutts, you sit at a large table while strangers at nearby tables loudly criticize your parenting skills. You then tell a person what you want to eat and they bring it.

We don’t even have to clean up after ourselves. Is this even legal?

With the pandemic limiting our restaurant experience to what we see on TV, we’ve had our meals at home, which has single-handedly destroyed the local economy. To all the busboys and wait staff, I’m sorry the Offutts are no longer putting you through college.

The Kindergartener was the first to lament the loss of eating out, and she doesn’t even know what lament means. It’s obviously a bagel spread.

“I want to go to a chips and salsa restaurant,” she said one day.

And I want a 5-year-old who can pull her own financial weight around here, missy.

A lot of what goes through a parent’s head doesn’t make it out of our mouths simply because it would cost a bundle to put our children through therapy.

We have two Mexican restaurants in town. The Kindergartener likes them both because all she eats there is chips and salsa. My wife and I have given up trying to get her to eat anything else. Seriously, anything.

“Yuck. I don’t like it,” is her go-to for anything new we put in front of her.

“You don’t know unless you try it,” my wife and I say. Not at the same time. We take turns or it would be exhausting.

“I know I don’t like it because I won’t try it,” she said the night we gave up. We couldn’t argue with that logic.

When I was a kid, our go-to family restaurant wasn’t Mexican, it was Red Lobster. The 1970s were strange times. I doubt lupper even existed then.

Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at