It was 1975 and I had just completed my third year of higher education at Indiana University in Bloomington.
I was broke and broken-hearted. That can constitute a catastrophic combination for a young man seeking a fruitful future.
I wasn’t the only guy treading water. Jobs were rare, and soaring inflation punished poverty-stricken pupils.
In an endeavor to escape my claustrophobic condition I tossed my guitar in the backseat of my car and arrived in Colorado Springs with a wad of cash sufficient to purchase a few meals and a tank of gas.
My travel buddy had secured us accommodations with a young family living at the base of the Rockies. I landed a job at a paint and glass company as a delivery guy. My salary was embarrassing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Within a week, we both were living in an apartment building within eyesight of the United States Air Force Academy. He found a job working nights at a pizza parlor; I spent six days a week hauling car parts, paint, windshields and 50-gallon drums of chemicals to body shops across the region’s undulating landscape.
I rested my brain and relied on my brawn to generate just enough money to survive. Since petroleum was particularly pricey that year, I hitched a few rides back-and-forth into town.
The most costly slice of my budget?
I ate and drank the same supper each evening. That’s right. I was a menu minimalist.
My daily dish?
From the mom-and-pop joint a block from the shop, I purchased outdated ground beef at a reduced price and the most inexpensive box of macaroni-and-cheese available. Many days I spent less than $1.
On the way home I stopped at the liquor store next to my apartment and secured a six-pack of ice-cold Olympia. I boiled the pasta and fried the hamburger. I mixed in the cheese and added copious amounts of salt.
I quickly devoured the carb-heavy concoction and washed it down with a bottle of beer. After an hour of watching Starsky and Hutch on the tube, I retreated to the balcony with the remaining bottles of Olympia to sip beneath the spectacular stars sparkling above Pike’s Peak.
When I returned to Indiana many months later, I was a lean, mean, much more mellow fellow. Every now and then, especially on cold, wintry nights, l’ll still rustle up a big pot of Triple B’s Hamburger Helper.
Comfort foods aren’t ideal for a daily diet, but they can sure serve to soothe the nerves and warm the soul.
Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.