The conversation was plain nuts. Well, not exactly plain nuts, more like flavored macadamia nuts.

The nutty conversation took place in Harrington’s restaurant in Hilo, Hawaii, where my Air National Guard unit served two weeks on temporary duty in June.

Master Sgt. Michelle Roberts, Maj. Robert Flynn and I had come to a breezy, beachside open-air restaurant to take a break from our hot tents.

When the waitress appeared with menus, I naturally asked the important questions, such as: “How many pieces come with the macadamia-coconut-covered shrimp?” or “Does the macadamia cake come with macadamia ice cream?”

It was clear where my lust was taking me.

Suddenly, I heard Michelle exclaim, “They’re so beautiful!”

I looked up from my menu and saw her leaning over the restaurant railing pointing at the Koi fish swimming in the pond below us. Naturally, nothing distracts me from food, so I’m not sure I can factually report the conversation, but I think the waitress asked Michelle, “Would you like to feed them?”

From what I’ve been able to piece together, Michelle must have said something like, “Oh, could I? Could I, please?”

Shortly after that, we managed to place an order that promised to be studded with macadamia nuts. While we waited for the food, I extolled my companions with my knowledge of the various flavors of nuts and the calories contained therein.

In the midst of the nutty talk, our waitress appeared carrying a bowl of what seemed to be a different variety of the nuts. Although, they appeared a bit different, I was eager to demonstrate good cultural sensitivity by being the first to sample this variety. I quickly popped a few of the golden nuggets in my mouth.

Maj. Flynn and Master Sgt. Roberts stared at me with open mouths. The waitress seemed as though she was about to drop her tray.

What, I thought? Had I forgotten to throw the “hang loose” sign or something? If they were worried I wasn’t going to share, well . . .

Suddenly, my taste buds told me what my friends were too shocked to say. The nutty chaplain who had been lusting for macadamia nuts all afternoon was eating the fish food Michelle had earlier requested.

I retched over the railing and returned the food to the intended recipients of such culinary delights.

I learned an important lesson that day. Lust is rarely discriminatory. It always will allow us to see what we want to see in the most beautiful fashion.

This is true whether we lust after things, status or a person. Lust is about placing people and things into categories and then forming them into the image you’ve created for them.

The object we most lust for rarely will taste anything like the image we hold in our minds. The fact is, sometimes it tastes like pet food.

Oh, yeah, one more thing I learned: Listen to the sergeant when she is speaking.