September 8, 2014


        It staggers the imagination how our human quest for variety has spiraled well and truly out of control. Animals don’t worry about this sort of thing; and though they do not live as long as we do, I have no doubt they are much happier than we are.

It’s becoming impossible to send someone out with a shopping list, just to pick up a few things, anymore.  For example, last week, I was tied up with deadlines, so I wrote Stij a list, and off he went.
Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call. 
“Hi hon.  Miss me?” I said.
“Tee hee, very funny. This list says you want sliced turkey breast.”
“Uh huh.”
“Yes, but you didn’t tell me what kind you wanted, oh woman of words and specifics.”
“What do you mean, ‘what kind?’”
“Oh, my dear, we have a veritable Disneyland of choices here.  You can have your turkey rotisseried, smoked, oven roasted, barbecued, organic, cage free-natural, dipped in honey and swung about the head and shoulders, seasoned with cracked black pepper and aged in Gordon Ramsay’s armpit, or marinated in a stunning mélange of Channel No. 5, attar of roses, and outhouse runoff.  That last you just buy, bring home, and throw out.  So what’ll it be?”
“Is the guy at the deli waiting for you to make up your mind?
“Get out of the line.  Did you find everything else?”
“I have only just begun.”
It was going to be a long phone call, I could tell.
“What’s next?”
“Now, you know in the best of circumstances, I do not like buying feminine hygiene products, but you are going to bleed to death before I can figure out what to get.  There are three aisles of this stuff!  They even have one with ‘wings.’  Is that the one you use when you’re planning on flying somewhere?”
“Just pick up a box of sanitary pads—how hard can that be?”
“I’d rather take a chance dodging traffic on the 101. . .at night. . . drunk. . .and blind.”
“Look, it’s simple…”
“No, it’s not.  Let’s make a deal right now—I won’t ask you to buy jock itch stuff for me, and you don’t ask me to buy this stuff for you.  You wouldn’t believe the headache I have.”
“There’s Midol for that.”
“Do you want me to hang up?  Do you really want me to hang up?”
“Sorry. Okay, skip that.  What’s next?”
“Why is that hard?”
“Oh, medium, large, extra-large, jumbo, hard-boiled, organic, cage-free, all-natural, organic, slightly organic, kinda organic, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, Omega-3s, 6-pack, 10-pack, dozen, 18-pack, two-and-a-half dozen, five dozen, brown eggs, white eggs, green eggs and ham.  Whaddya want?”
“A dozen large white eggs.”
“They’re all out.”
 “Pasta sauce.  Here we have the following choices:  marinara, tomato and basil, alfredo, creamy alfredo, four cheese, sausage and peppers, garlic and basil, pesto, tomato pesto, sundried tomato and basil, white clam sauce, tomato with white wine, tomato with mushrooms and motor oil, tomato with shredded carp and Mah Jong tiles, and tomato sauce with grass clippings from the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. There’s even a No Tomato tomato sauce!”  By now he was bellowing to the point where I could have heard him without the phone.
“Stij, I really have to get back to work…”
“Oh, no, you don’t!  If I’m to be forced into insanity, I’m taking you with me!”
“Please, hon, just do your best, okay?  See you later,” I said, hanging up and turning off my phone.
After a short while, I heard his truck pull up.
He walked in with a bag of fruit, veggies, and meat and plunked it down on the counter.  He then stalked to his office and slammed the door so hard that it rattled the windows.  I unpacked his purchases quietly.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that everything he bought had expired three months ago.

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