Ya Gotta Commit!

I just had lunch today with my son Eric, our 5th child of 6. Recently he left the U.S. Army as a captain and is heading to graduate school so he can teach history in high school. We had lunch at Damico’s and I went with the Tuscan soup and the Splendido sandwich. Actually, it was only half of the Splendido which consisted of the following:

*a whole lot of turkey



*other stuff (!)

*a fried egg

And this was all served on a toasted ciabatta-like roll. And when this was served to our table, I looked at it with a lot of anticipation and just a little concern. It was stacked so high that it was not immediately apparent how one might actually take bite #1. Do I come in from the side or work off the base or do I eat the excess turkey emerging from innards of this splendid Splendido. And as I paused and surveyed this unusual creation, Eric had begun attacking his chicken penne pasta. At about his 3rd or 4th bite, I had yet to engage this sandwich and he finally stated with a certain amount of dry pragmatism, “Ya gotta commit!”

It was a perfect statement and assessment regarding my dilemma. Ya gotta commit!

If this is what you ordered and you paid the money and if this is what the waiter delivered to you, then this is what you must somehow eat.

But how do I even get my mouth around this thing? And why did I order a sandwich with a fried egg in it? (the penne pasta was looking so delectable and so simple by comparison). And I clearly did not have enough napkins on hand to handle the kind of mess that would undoubtedly ensue. But…..ya gotta commit! And on the basis of that little pearl of wisdom…I committed!! And, yes, the mess followed hard on the heels of the first bite. Stuff everywhere and the fried egg proceeded to slither out and the rest of it was in total disarray with only the toasted roll providing any sense of order, almost as if it was saying “I don’t know what the rest of you guys are up to, but I’m holding my post and strongly recommending that all of you get back in between my toasted halves”.

But I soldiered on despite ever increasing culinary chaos. And…it was good! Even delicious. Ya gotta commit!! And though Eric’s side of the table was much neater than mine (Really, how much trouble can one get into by eating chicken penne pasta?), I cannot believe that taste-wise, he fared better than me!

And for the rest of the time we spent at D’Amico’s and for the entire ride back to my place, we exegeted “Ya gotta commit”. Both of us are Civil War buffs and almost simultaneously we thought of the scene from the movie “Gettysburg” where Colonel Chamberlain was holding the heights of Little Round Top while a relentless flow of rebels charged up the hill to dislodge them. Each of the Union soldiers had 60 rounds of ammunition at the start of this fight. Until, finally after the repeated attacks, the Union squad leaders reported “We’re out of ammunition” and “We need to retreat”. But Chamberlain had been ordered to hold that position at all costs. Because if the rebels came over that hill they would have easily flanked the rest of the Union army and probably have won the day for the South. So, in effect, Chamberlain had a Splendido in front of him. He couldn’t retreat and allow the flanking of his comrades in arms, nor could he keep shooting bullets. They were out of ammunition. So he ordered his men to “Fix bayonets!” and gave them instruction how they were to proceed charging down that hill and probably catching the rebels by surprise. And they did. And they not only won that battle but the next day as well and the battle of Gettysburg became the turning point of the war for the Union.

Ya gotta commit! But what if this doesn’t work? What if we get confused half way down the hill? What if the rebels see what we’re doing and turn it back on our heads? What if? What if? What If?

No! Ya gotta commit! And, really, the lesson is for all of us, right? Not much worthwhile occurs when we give tepid efforts and responses to life situations that demand that we take this seriously and refuse to spend the bulk of our time worrying about every detail of how anything might unfold. It really might get messy and we could lose the fried egg all together. But if we get served a Splendido then we can’t spend too much time pining for chicken penne pasta. You can get that next time. But for this time, Ya gotta commit!!

Ned Berube

photo ned

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