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Friday, August 11, 2017

Rationalizations Unlimited and Poutine

I am founder and CEO of Rationalizations Unlimited. That means I can rationalize almost anything, especially expenditures that straddle that skinny line between needs and wants.

Someone once said to me, "You must have grown up Catholic. Catholics are great rationalizers."

I did grow up Catholic, but I didn't know what he meant and I still don't. Catholics are great rationalizers? Maybe it's got something to do with the Sacrament of Confession, now called Reconciliation. In the 1950s we were taught at a tender age, about seven or eight years old, to confess our sins to a priest and to seek absolution. We were taught the difference between mortal sins (killing your brother) and venial ones (just wanting to kill your brother).

I'm sure I'm not alone in having wondered from time to time, "Do I have to confess this?" So entered the art of rationalizing. . . if it wasn't really that bad, I probably didn't have to confess it.

Anyway, I consider myself an artist at rationalizing. I will help you if you need assistance in reasoning away that purchase of, say, a toe ring or a tattoo.

The most recent example of my prowess came this week at the Wisconsin State Fair. Mike and I were walking along when we spied a poutine booth.

"Poutine! Marga told me about that!" I said to Mike with no little amount of excitement. Marga Raudsepp was a Canadian and my former editor at her magazine, Nurturing. I had asked her about poutine and she said it's the most heart-unhealthy food but delicious and much-beloved in Canada. And the word poutine sounds so Frawwnch!!

Of course Mike and I had to try it. We asked the guy at the booth all about it as he ladled the scrumptious ingredients into a bowl.

"I'm from Minnesota and I discovered this on a boat trip to Canada," he said. "It's sort of the national dish of Canada and they're very proud of it. The gravy can be chicken gravy or beef, more beefy as you travel east in Canada."

Ingredients: French fries, white cheese curds, and gravy. What's not to love? 

The concoction was intimidating. I asked the Minnesotan how to eat it. "I grab the fries by hand, one by one. I use the fork for the curds and anything at the bottom that's covered in gravy," he explained.

Mike and I followed his advice. It went down pretty easily. Even splitting one small bowl, we felt full fast. This is food for ice-fishing. Hearty if not exactly heart-healthy.

So where does the rationalizing come in, you ask?

Backstory: Mike and I have a trip coming up next week that let's just say is taking us over our budget for the month. We're going to Savannah and then to Charleston to view the total eclipse of the sun. The excuse is our 45th wedding anniversary, but that's just an excuse. We are going because it sounds so darn COOL!!

So we're sitting there in the West Allis, Wisconsin sunshine at State Fair, shoveling the warm poutine into our mouths, and suddenly my CEO duties come to the fore.

"Wow, Mike, this is just like a trip to Canada," I say, as I marvel at the creaminess of the curds slathered in gravy. We love Canada. We've made many trips there and even tried to emigrate to Victoria Island in British Columbia in the 1980s (Canada didn't want us; they already had enough teachers and accountants).

Continuing my logical train of thought, I added, "Just think. . . by saving the money for a trip to Canada, it pretty much covers the trip down South, hey?"

(The "hey" was a Canadian touch, but we Milwaukeeans really do talk that way.)

So there you have it. The work of the founder and CEO of Rationalizations Unlimited. At your service.

Gail Grenier is the author of Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, Dessert First, and Calling All Horses, all available from

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