Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This I Believe (And Then I'll Stop): One More F-Word

Do you know what a jar of Ty Ling Sweet ‘n’ Sour Sauce looks like when it’s dropped from a grocery cart at Winn Dixie? Caterpillar guts. You can take this on faith -- you don’t have to smash condiment jars or caterpillars. I’ve done both, but I didn’t mean to.

Okay, I guess I meant to smash the caterpillars, but I was only six or seven, and I was trying to scare my next-door neighbor, Daniel. “Want to see something gross?” I said. At six or seven, I appreciated rhetorical questions but not, apparently, God’s smaller creatures (i.e. Daniel; caterpillars).

I like to believe I would’ve stopped squashing bugs, even if my parents hadn’t given me the PETA book for my eighth birthday. I read PETA cover-to-cover on a road trip, in the backseat of our Volvo (want to guess my family’s political leanings? Do you like these rhetorical questions?). When we pit-stopped at McDonald’s, I ordered a Happy Meal minus the hamburger. I’ve been quasi-vegetarian ever since.

So, I envisioned the Ty Ling with Morningstar fake chicken, not real chicken, or pork, or beef, or caterpillars. But the jar rolled straight off the top of my cart, through one of the holes designed for babies’ legs. Maybe if America didn’t have an obesity epidemic, these holes wouldn’t be so big, and Ty Ling would be safe in my fridge. Can I blame chunky babies for my accident? Don’t answer.

In case you think I’m soulless baby-phobe insect smusher, I’ll attest to my deep capacity for guilt: I ‘fessed up to the Sauce crime right away. “I smashed a jar on Aisle 4,” I told an official-looking person at the front of the store. “I’m so sorry. I’ll pay for it.” See? I’m not so bad. I don’t deserve to be reincarnated as a caterpillar or a jar of Ty Ling. Right? Again, please don’t answer.

And don’t tell me “honesty is the best policy.” Policy is “you break; you buy.” Honesty is more of a suggestion, with no guarantees. “Excuse me, this ticket says ‘No cameras or video-taping equipment allowed,’ and I just wanted to tell you that I brought my Kodak. So I’m not really sure what to do.” Although this happened nearly ten years ago, I still recall the security guard’s bemused gaze. “Hey, this kid brought a camera! And she’s showing it to me!” If you want photos of the Indigo Girls’ 1995 Nashville performance, ask the Ryman security personnel.

Add “jaded“ to “soulless et. al.” That’s why I decided to post today: because the Winn Dixie official didn’t mock my truth-telling, or, in fact, ask me to pay for the Ty Ling. “Don’t worry,” he said; “We’ll clean that right up.” Was he kidding? I could’ve asked rhetorically, but I attempted mature gratitude instead. “No, thank you,” he replied. “Some people just walk away, and the stuff sits there for 20, 30 minutes.” Thank me?

It was all I could do not to weep: for the caterpillars, the busted jar, all number of sins. No, no -- thank you.

As an amendment to a previous post, then - forgiveness is another f-word that never loses its potency. Add that to the list. And if you’re making a grocery list, shop Winn Dixie.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ode to My Crawfish Etouffe

O spicy crawfish etouffe!
Such fun to eat -
So tough to say.
Gumbo is not quite so willful
For it lacks the extra syll’ble.
Then, the choice of “cray” and “craw”
Which one to pick? Let’s call a draw.
For, after all, they are both fishes
Which makes them equally delicious.