Joshua Henninger

Food and the song “Sweet Caroline" — two vastly different things that can bring people together in any circumstances. Whether it be a juicy double cheeseburger straight off the Stokely grills or the beautifully crafted Neil Diamond lyrics, people naturally drift towards these things.

Every Monday and Wednesday I go to Stokley to eat lunch with my friend Jacob. It is my favorite part of those days, but not because of the food that is there. The food is usually good, and there is no shortage of options, but the conversations we have are what is really special about it.

“Do you want to stay on campus tonight for French movie night with me?” Jacob will ask casually.

I think about it. “Maybe next time” I say.

Although I do not go to this particular French movie night with Jacob, it opens a whole new conversation. We explore some of our other interests ranging from why we are taking our particular foreign languages to history.

I could go on and on about what we were talking about, but that is not the point. The food was a bonding point for both of us to gather and talk about everything from school all the way into our personal lives. Taking a break from the daily grind of school is always beneficial. There is a certain sense of relief when you talk with someone about common issues. We give each other advice and help go over any situations we are stuck in. The experience is almost always helpful. When you can talk about your problems with another, no matter the circumstances, it is a chance to gain a new perspective or insight. Lest we forget about the food, I feel that a quick review of my traditional meal is necessary to establish the setting.

My favorite meal to get from Stokely is always the cheeseburger if it is available. I am a simple man when it comes to burgers. I always just go with the double patties, cheese, onions and ketchup. On the side is fries with ketchup and diet coke.

The burger is almost always good, especially when you can get it hot and fresh. The patties melt the cheese when the patties are steaming. The onions add the necessary crunch and texture to the burger. Lettuce and pickles can also help, but I prefer only onions on mine. The coke and fries compliment the burger perfectly, creating a stellar meal. I must admit that there are better meals, but when done right, the burgers at Stokely are excellent.

The words of Sweet Caroline can have the same effect on people. They bring people together. Although it is not quite the same as the way you talk around a good burger, it can still be very helpful. The group all listens to the same song and rallies around it. We can sing it as loud as we can like I used to do with my fellow classmates during my high school karaoke. Afterwards, we can laugh and joke about how bad my voice is despite my best efforts. The whole experience is a shared experience. You can laugh about it with your friends or just think back to it whenever you are having a rough day.

Never forget the next time you hear Sweet Caroline (or your preferred song) or eat a burger with your friend at Stokely the positives you can get out of it. Also, If anyone has any recommendations about better alternatives at Stokely or places to check out, feel free to email me.

Joshua Henninger is a freshman majoring in supply chain management. He can be reached at jhennin5@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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