What Is The Grossest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten Off A Child’s Plate?

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Illustration by Sam Woolley
Illustration by Sam Woolley

We are now deep inside the noggy bowels of the Christmas Shopping Season. And while I can’t offer you any special Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Taco Tuesday savings on The Hike, I can tell you that it makes the perfect gift for anyone who refuses to tell you what they want for Christmas and therefore deserves a thoughtless, utterly inexplicable gift as a result. Make sure to include the gift receipt when you wrap it.

Now… time for your letters:


What’s the worst/most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten off a child’s plate? Mine’s probably crackers that looked good, but it turned out my kid gnawed on them and they’re pretty soggy.


It’s definitely food that the child spat back out. I am the mirror image of a mommy bird feeding a child her own regurgitate. On a handful of occasions, I’ve seen something on my kid’s plate that I really want to eat. And then they give it a test chew for half-a-second before taking it back out. This kills me. How could you not eat that chicken tender? That chicken tender was MEANT to be eaten. If it could talk, it would say BWAWK! BWAWK BWAWK BWAWK PLEASE EAT ME BWAWK! I can’t stand the waste, not when there are children starving in India. So sometimes I eat the thing, germs and saliva be damned. I have my reasons. Some other gross things I have eaten off my child’s plate:

  1. Anything dipped in soy sauce. When a child uses soy sauce, they always use too much, and it gets all over. So I have eaten nuggets drenched in soy sauce, and pasta in soy sauce, and other things that really don’t need 50,000mg of added sodium.
  2. Unfinished candy. When children bite into any confection, they leave a trail of chocolate slobber five feet long. No matter. Into my mouth it goes.
  3. Cereal milk. It’s the best part!
  4. Baby food. Have you ever had baby food? It’s not bad! The mashed green beans are revolting, but the little jars of fruit puree are kinda good. I’ll finish those as a treat for myself. Good vitamins for daddy!
  5. Old fruit. I want my kids to eat their fruit, which means that when they take a single bite of an apple or pear, I will SAVE that piece of fruit and remind them periodically to finish it, even as the flesh goes brown and mushy. And then, at some point, I give up and finish the damn thing myself.
  6. Untouched lunchbox items. I spent all morning making that ham and cheese sandwich for my kid. Eight hours later, it comes back to the house not only untouched, but unwrapped. It’s like someone sent me the lamest time capsule ever. By 4 p.m., that ham is warmer than my own armpit. Do I eat it? SOMETIMES. Again, I hate waste. This makes me a responsible person and not a monster.



My college offers ballroom dance classes. Would it be an affront to my MANLINESS if I were to take them? Should I lie to my friends and say I’m going to beard and gun club every Wednesday?


You should take them if you want to. Your average man avoids 90 percent of worthwhile activities simply out of fear of embarrassment. But it’s always worth trying something once. While your BROS laugh at you for stepping lively, all the women will ooh and ahh at your moves on the dance floor, and your willingness to take chances. You’ll be swimming in hot tail in no time. And the local pastor will brand you as a rebel and an outlaw because you like fight-dancing alone in barns late at night! SO DREAMY.

I took ballroom dancing lessons once before I got married. My wife got some coupon for free lessons at Arthur Murray (that’s how they get you!), so we went there and some Eastern European dude showed me how to lead, taking me by the hand and inducing all sorts of standard, early 2000s sitcom gay panic within me. We did one lesson and I never went back. If I had to do it over again, I would have gotten over my own homophobia and tried my best. Everyone has been to that one wedding where the bride and groom CLEARLY took dance lessons, and can execute the whole twirl-and-dip routine seamlessly. That always gets a good response. OOOOH THEY MUST BE ARGENTINIAN WITH THOSE MOVES! Dancing is fun, and you don’t even have to be all that great at it to enjoy it.




I was watching a documentary about the Romans the other day, specifically in relation to Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s obviously no secret that the cross was an instrument of torture and death, being used for years before and after Jesus’ death for some really screwed up things. But now millions of people look to the cross as a symbol of hope and redemption, which makes me wonder, what if Jesus was killed in a different way? If he was hanged would people bow down to a rope? If he was beheaded would there be swords or axes on buildings all over Europe? If they did that thing where they pulled him apart using horses running in different directions would the symbol of Christianity be an angry horse or something? I guess it’s good he wasn’t beaten to death with a bunch of dildos or something embarrassing like that.


I don’t think any other primitive torture device would have become as iconic as the cross, because the cross represents both the suffering Christ endured, and the grace with which he endured that suffering… all for the sake of mankind. Not to go all GREGGGGGG on you, but that’s an important part of the story.

Plus the cross is unique in that it’s not a weapon. It’s relatively benign in shape, which is a really good thing if you happen to have children and they ask you why there’s a cross on top of every church and you don’t REALLY want to get into it because you were just making a Wendy’s run and weren’t prepared to give them a theology sermon. “Well honey, it’s the symbol of Jesus. Now did you want a four-piece kid’s meal, or a six-piece?”


If Christ had been beheaded, that would have changed everything. Beheading takes a second, unless you have a dud executioner who forgot to sharpen his blade. “Crucifixion takes hours! It’s a slow, ‘orrible death!” Then you’d have a sword on top of every church, which would look metal as hell but would kind of defeat the whole “peace and love” message. The cross turned out to be a perfect symbol of hope and redemption in the world of Christianity. THANKS, ROMANS!


Since Alex Trebek is the host of Jeopardy!, isn’t he, by default, a nerd?

No. Alex Trebek is rich as balls and lives in Hollywood and even has enough spare cash to buy his kid a duplex bachelor pad in Harlem. He’s not a fucking nerd. Nerd culture has so completely dominated the pop landscape over the past couple of decades that people forget what a real nerd is. You are not a nerd just because you like superheroes, or Game of Thrones, or some other shit that everyone else likes. A real nerd is a social outcast who is cast out for legitimate reasons: bad breath, boogers, a shocking level of imperiousness with regard to stupid shit like Star Trek, etc. The kid from Bad Santa? That’s a real fucking nerd. Or the Blizzcon kid!

Now THAT is a nerd. A guy who hosts a nationally syndicated game show that earns billions and owns his own walk-in wine cellar is not.




Some buddies of mine for years have raved to me about how Qdoba has the best utensils in the fast-casual Mexican restaurant industry. I disagree. In my opinion Chipotle has the best plastic throw-away utensils I’ve ever seen. What do you think? Del Taco, Taco Bell and Moe’s could also be added to the list, but none top Chipotle in my opinion.


The best takeout utensils are the ones that are sturdy enough to perform as well as metal utensils, so that means I approve of any place that gives you either A) The thick black plastic forks and knives or B) The thick brown forks and knives that are made from 100% recycled coffee grounds and Birkenstock soles.

You know what the worst place is for takeout utensils? ANY BAGEL SHOP. I swear. Go to a bagel shop right now and ask for a fork and a knife. The fork will snap after two bites of egg salad, and the knives are a fucking joke. Trying to spread cream cheese with a bagel store knife is agony. It’s like someone gave you a pencil to help paddle a canoe. Bagel stores need to step their game up.




What is the correct order to remove individual eggs from a 12-count carton over time? I prefer to take eggs from exact opposite ends of the carton, my thinking being that it keeps the carton relatively well-balanced. My wife starts on the short end and takes them out side-by-side until they are all gone. Obviously these styles are not compatible and we need a ruling. I acknowledge some kind of monster could take them out along one side first then start back up the other side or do it in some completely random order as well.


I take out the big eggs first, which makes me a horrible person. If I’m making eggs, I want a big egg, because that’s more egg for me. If I’m baking, I want small eggs, because then I get to save the big eggs for my big egg omelets. I know this is psychotic, but that’s how my brain works. I want the biggest food for me, because I am selfish and horrible. That means I’m picking eggs out of the carton in a completely haphazard fashion. I’ll leave gaps in each row and won’t rearrange the remaining eggs to make things tidy.

In my head, I justify this as keeping the entire carton somewhat balanced, instead of heavy on one side or in the middle. There’s nothing worse than grabbing an egg carton and judging the egg placement all wrong. You can really throw your back out if you aren’t ready for all of them to be sitting at one goddamn end. So I like a bit of chaos in there. CHAOS IS FAIR.




Man, why am I still awake?

God, it’s awful, isn’t it? Everyone else is asleep and you aren’t, and the more you try to sleep, the more awake you become. Then you try peeing and it doesn’t help. Then you try beating off and that doesn’t help either. Then you resolve not to look at the clock but then you DO, which just makes thing worse because either A) Too much time has passed, or B) Barely any time has passed at all! Apart from drugging yourself, I have only two suggestions to help with your insomnia:

  1. Give up. Just let your mind work out what it needs to work out and try your best not to fight it. Whenever I’m alone, my worries end up in an echo chamber, where they just build on each other nonstop. Why did I speed through that yellow light today? What if the light had turned red? What if I had hit somebody and killed them? Then I’d be in jail. Then some veteran cop would play Good Cop/Bad Cop with me and get me to spill before I even had a chance to call a lawyer. Then I’d go to jail and get a crippling toilet meth addiction. And then my wife would leave me. And then I’d finally get out but things would never be the same. I eat too much. Sometimes I have to work all THAT out, and then my brain finally lets go.
  2. Think of random crap. I try to picture goat unicorns flying over clouds shaped like butts, and other weird stuff like that. It’s my feeble attempt to get my brain to transition into dream stuff.

Or you could be like Barry and picture a murderer waiting to kill you. That doesn’t work so well for me.





What do you think is the most popular sports item owned worldwide? I say a Yankees hat. Tons of people must own one even if they aren’t Yankees fans. Think of all the tourists that go through NYC. My buddy thinks a Barcelona soccer jersey, but I say that doesn’t count since they change every year. But a Yankees hat has stayed the same forever.


At first I thought it was definitely some kind of hat, because hats are much cheaper than jerseys. I followed the list of most valuable sports teams to whittle it down from there, but look at these rankings…

  1. Cowboys
  2. Real Madrid
  3. Barcelona
  4. Yankees
  5. Man U

Three of the five most popular teams are soccer teams, and no one wears a fucking soccer hat around. I’m not even sure they MAKE soccer hats. If they did, they would only be worn by posers and dipshits. Real soccer fans wear jerseys and scarves. Also, even though the Yankees are Cowboys are billion-dollar enterprises, they do not play a globally widespread sport a la soccer or basketball. So my guess is that the No. 1 item is either some kind of cheapass Man U scarf, or a Lakers or Bulls hat. Basketball is huge in Asia, and the Bulls logo hasn’t changed since the inception of the franchise, all the way through the Jordan years up to today. That gives me hope that there are more Bulls hats than Yankee hats out there, because fuck the Yankees.


By the way, I’m sure the Red Sox hat is also way up on the list, because it also hasn’t changed over time and because Boston fans take every last step necessary to let you know that they are Boston fans. WE FUCKING GET IT. You are from Boston. If I were you, I’d hide that fact like an opioid addiction.



If American football is eventually destroyed, to which sport will all of the former players go? MMA? Will there be a flood of players to a second-tier sport that will vault it to superiority because of the sudden influx of talent? Will soccer be relevant in the U.S. someday? Will we see 300-pound linemen on ice skates kicking a puck around for three periods (or as long as their ankles can support them)?


I don’t think any one sport would benefit from the influx. Think about your local high school football team and what other sports its players played during the offseason. A lot of wideouts and backs run track. A lot of linemen do field events. Tight ends play basketball (did you know Antonio Gates played that sport once). The sport has a weird range of skill sets and body types, so if football collapsed tomorrow, every other sport would have its own little expansion pool to choose from. Except soccer. No matter what happens, U.S. Soccer will always find a way to remain fucking terrible.

By the way, I know it’s fun to picture current NFL stars making a seamless leap to other leagues: Julio Jones to the NBA, Von Miller to MMA, Richie Incognito to the Aryan Brotherhood, etc. But my guess is that very very few of those players, if any, would be able to make the switch. By the time you’re in the NFL, you’ve become such a specialized athlete that switching gears would take years and years of corrective training. That’s why you never see any two-sport stars like Bo or Deion anymore, and that is why life sucks.




At my work we have a commercial-sized coffee machine that holds a few gallons of water, and you just stick a little Keurig-like packet in, push a button, and you get coffee. In the past month I have killed two gigantic, Trump-sized cockroaches hanging out near the thing. They are definitely living in the coffee machine, right? It’s been well-documented that roaches like to live in coffee makers. I refuse to use it now, and have warned a couple of coworkers who I consider close friends. But the rest of the office of 20+ employees continues to use it, unaware of what’s lurking inside. I can’t tell everyone, right? Also I work in HR and we don’t have a policy on this.


You should tell everyone! You should get a big posterboard and write WARNING: ROACHES IN THE COFFEE in big red letters. I’m never drinking coffee again. Bomb all the coffeemakers. Where else are roaches hiding that I don’t know about? Are they in pillows? Do they like laying eggs at the bottom of Lucky Charms boxes? Are they chilling under my car seat as we speak? WE MUST KICK ALL THE ROACHES OUT UNTIL WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT IS GOING ON.



I’ve been married for 4 years now, and with my wife for 11 years total. Although I’ve had a few close calls, she has yet to catch me beating off. What changes when/if she does catch me?


Nothing. You’ll probably blush, and then she’ll laugh, and then you’ll be like, “You know, you could help me…,” and then a little porn music will play in your head, and then she’ll be like, “Nah,” and then you’ll go finish in the toilet. Perfectly normal occurrence. That one scene from American Beauty had it all wrong.



It’s the old “could Alabama beat the Cleveland Browns?” scenario, except you are QBin’ for The Browns and will have no prep or practice beforehand. Who wins?


The Browns because I’d die on the second play and then Terrelle Pryor would take over and do what he does.



How do you feel about the “Can you hear me now?” guy jumping phone companies? I can’t explain why, but for some reason this feels like a massive betrayal to me, and I didn’t even like those commercials.


I’m just shocked he was contractually able to pull it off. Normally, advertisers force you to sign a non-compete clause that forbids you from even saying the name of another carrier out loud ever again without being penalized $1,000,000 and 700 lashes. Those people and their lawyers do not fuck around. In order to start shilling for Sprint (and openly talking about how he used to work at Verizon, too!), this guy had to wait out his non-compete and then, presumably, get assurance from Sprint that Verizon won’t try to murder his family for his betrayal. Even now, I fear for him. Somewhere, Verizon has its own Agent Smith ready to grab him off the street and take him to the company’s underground Testicle Electrocution Lab.


You’re in a Tesla with autopilot on and of course you immediately start masturbating. The Tesla hits a deer in a secluded area and you careen off the road into a ditch. The car’s busted, but you’re fine. Do you finish?


Yes but I’m not happy about it. Goddamn deer ruined the whole moment.



This morning I woke up with what was probably a sinus infection, but I’m an idiot and went to work anyway. As I’m merging the interstate, I cough up a huge glob of phlegm into my mouth. Here’s the thing - my drive from this point on is 10 miles of interstate and then another two minutes of traffic circles - no required stops. I don’t have a cup or anything in my car to spit it into. What’s the ideal play here, apart from “staying home and not being the jackass who went to work with what he believes is a sinus infection”? I held it in my mouth the whole goddamn way, and spit it out in the corner of the parking garage instead of immediately upon opening my car door.


Okay, so the obvious move is to spit it out the window, although I know this may have been difficult for you because you were going too fast. I’ve tried spitting out a window at top speed, only to have the spittle blow right back onto me. It’s a really bad moment. You need to spit the loogie out at the first available slowdown in traffic, OR you have to pull over to get rid of it.

Holding it for 10 minutes is a bad idea because you build up extra saliva when you do that, to the point that you can’t hold it all in, and you get nauseous just thinking about the giant booger wad swimming inside your mouth like a sea creature. There’s a risk the whole operation could blow open, like a busted aquarium. You don’t want that. Also, what if you cough up one of those really SOLID boogers? You know what I’m talking about. You cough and then suddenly there’s a THING in the back of your throat, like part of a popcorn kernel. That needs to be disposed of RIGHT AWAY. It can’t wait.


Also, keep tissue in your car at all times. Like a lot of other things, I didn’t realize this was an option until I got married. Now I consider it an essential practice. If you have tissues in the car, you can drool that blob into one, carefully put the tissue into the cup holder, and then dispose of it once you arrive. PRESTO. Like it never happened. Always have something in your car to address emergency loogies or the sudden urge to urinate.



People that wear a sweater with nothing underneath, no t-shirt or anything, are obviously serial killers, right?


We’re just talking about men here, right? Then yes. Any man wearing a sweater with nothing underneath is clearly deranged. Aren’t you itchy without an undershirt, amigo? Hell, even with an undershirt, I can barely tolerate wearing a sweater for more than six seconds. Feels like I just got out of a haircut. Every Christmas I get a sweater, and every Christmas that sweater goes into the closet, never to return.

Now, if you’re a WOMAN and you’ve got a sweater on with nothing underneath… well then, that’s a whole other story. A very SEXY story. Why don’t we sit down and talk about it over dinner at my apartment?


[claps hands to activate Clapper]

[lights go low]

[Jamiroquai plays on the Sonos]


Email of the week!


When I was in middle school we had a day every year called Slave Day. Kids would volunteer to be “slaves” and then auctioned off at an assembly to other students, teachers, and even the principal. The following day the slave would have to do whatever the purchaser said (typically do embarrassing stuff and wear stupid clothes). I honestly can’t remember what the money went to but everyone I knew thought it was great.

Years later I told my friends about this and everyone was, rightfully, appalled. As a kid I didn’t even stop to consider how the administration allowed this to happen but what the hell man? This was in a small Oregon town so there (thankfully?) weren’t many people of color but now every once in a while I try to think if some other weird fucked up shit happened at my middle school. Is everyone at my middle school going to hell?


Probably. Oregon has some serious skeletons in its closet.