Picnics: The Best of Both Worlds

With all due apologies to “To be or not to be,” there’s a new question in town:

“Should we eat inside or outside?”

We live in a dining out culture. Restaurants and bars are as much a part of our modern-day cultural fabric as square wheels and BO were to cave men. (As a quick aside, did you ever stop and think about how smelly a cave man probably was? Yikes.)

They provide us relief from the stress of cooking, shelter from the stigma of drinking alone, and a sweet sweet reward for busting out 1.3 miles on the treadmill at a Usain Boltesque 22-minute mile pace. But rather than accept these glorious foodservice palaces as the beacons of happiness and relaxation that they are, we manufacture an argument over just where, exactly, we’re going to stuff our faces.

Do I enjoy the sweat-reducing delights of air conditioning? Let’s put it this way: I shower six times a day and I have no idea what my feet look like. And wind? Wind can go suck a lemon for all I’m concerned. It’s always trying to pull my napkins into the jetstream so I’m left with a face full of unwipeable salad mayonnaise. Also, hey bees, can I ask you a question? Would you mind not hovering around my eyeball anymore when I’m trying to eat my mozzarella sticks? Oh you won’t stop? OK, great. I’ll just buy an Epi Pen and continue to live in fear of you anyway. Thanks.

Look. I’m not a crazy person. I recognize the potential sensory delights and romantic advantages of an al fresco dining experience. I just feel like if I’m going to relax and allow someone else to wait on me, I’d rather do it in a controlled atmosphere that doesn’t have all the X-Factors of the outdoors. It’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s just a very strong preference.

All that being said, you know what throws a huge wrench into that whole theory? Picnics. They’re active enough that it’s socially acceptable to be sweaty, in nature enough that bugs aren’t really that gross anymore because they’re kind of where they’re supposed to be, and they’re cheap. My God are they cheap. Put in a little up-front investment for a nice basket to up the impressiveness factor. Then it’s just cold cuts, bread, some wine …bingo, bango, boomo! You’re done.

Picnic Baskets

Best part of all? Planning a picnic makes you seem like an unholy combination of Justin Bieber, John Cusack, and whatever other dreamboats are winding their way along Super Hunk Highway nowadays.

“Oh he packed a picnic? Well, my heart is positively aflutter with loin-stirring love butterflies. I’m going to buy him the UFC Pay-Per-View tonight and let him eat ham in bed. I’m one lucky woman.”

So don’t be a dumbo. You can keep having the outside/inside debate in the Applebee’s parking lot. Or you can head on out to the great outdoors with a picnic on your mind and a hop in your step. Then be rewarded with bed ham. It’s a win/win/win (if you don’t know why that has three wins, you’ve probably never had bed ham, and for that, I pity you).

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