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My Guilt Shake

Inching down 95 South on what would turn out to be a seven-hour slog from Washington to Charlotte, my stomach started growling midway.

Stuck in stop-and-go-traffic, my black Lab’s nose pressed against the window, smearing the glass. We were hungry, hot, and in need of a pit stop.

Chick-fil-A is where we usually stop on long trips. The service is friendly; the bathrooms sparkle; and my daughters love the chicken nuggets and fresh lemonade--not to mention the free mints. I’m also addicted to the milkshakes, particularly the “hand-spun” peach shakes served in the summer. And, on this sweltering August day, I craved one.

I first learned of the Chick-fil-A flap from one of my gay friends on Facebook. He posted that his family would be boycotting the chain because of its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage. “Damn sandwiches were so tasty, but we won’t be back,” he wrote.

And then came the flood of news stories, more postings from “friends” and, finally, the viral YouTube video of the guy berating the Chick-fil-A employee for working for such a “hateful company.” After watching the clip, I applauded the employee’s polite and measured response in the face of a rude customer. I agreed with what she said. But I also agreed, in theory, with the ill-behaved activist, though not his handling of it. I imagine he and I have a similar voting record.

I support gay marriage. The families I know with two moms or two dads are amazing. Their kids are well-adjusted, kind, conscientious. Same-sex couples do have family values. Strong ones. This isn’t a random opinion, it’s what I’ve witnessed in my children’s school, and from my gay friends and neighbors here in DC and elsewhere. I whole-heartedly support freedom of choice--in all its forms.

Which brings me to my choice. To have a milkshake or not? What would it say if I stopped for a shake in light of the boycott? How would I explain to my children that I support gay rights and my right to have a thick, creamy milkshake?

Bottom line: I don’t relish tackling political questions when I’m hungry. I’d rather keep my poultry and my politics separate, like church and state.

We live in a country based on free speech. Even if we disagree with others’ opinions, they still have a right to them. Tolerance--on both sides--is the key ingredient. And what would boycotting a restaurant really do to the CEO? Would it change his views? Doubtful.

So I chose the peach milkshake. And, yes, I felt guilty about it. Still do. Aside from the cause, the calories are concerning. I have just discovered that a large peach milkshake from Chick-fil-A has 850 calories and 21 grams of fat. I’m calling it my guilt-shake.