Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to snack with you again. These are the lyrics to the yet-to-be-produced Weird Al parody song being played at an eleven in my head as I blow the dust off my kitchen scale. A few weeks have passed since that dark, fateful day when the low battery icon on my proudly-made-in-China Taylor 3835 Kitchen Scale began to flash, I glanced around the kitchen to see if anyone was watching, and slowly and deliberately buried the scale in the mass grave of random household junk that is the left-hand drawer on my kitchen island. I can still hear the scale gasping for joules as I covered it with a ziplock bag of rubber bands, four copies of the same thai food take-out menu, and the owner’s manual to something I no longer own. What could lead me to such a depraved and senseless act of scale-slaughter? Was it the countless meals of chicken, broccoli slaw, mayonnaise, mustard, and Chex Mix, all carefully measured in consistent portions, that had slowly driven me to the brink of insanity? Or perhaps it was the PTSD (Post Traumatic Scale Disorder) I experienced every time I went out to eat with Wife and had no way of knowing how many calories was in that f***ing delicious duck confit panini. Whatever it was, it caused me to hit my breaking point, and, unfortunately, my kitchen scale payed the iron price. Well, actually, it was more like the protein, carbohydrate, and fat price, but I don’t want to be yet another nerdtritionist who lectures internet strangers on the importance of hitting macros. Not to worry—this sordid tale has a happy ending. I gained ten pounds, and the scale, blessed with a fresh battery, rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Now, who wants exactly one serving of Chex Mix?
I’m about to open a time capsule. Except it’s not a letter stuffed in a coffee can from 1992. It’s a goulash stuffed in a slow cooker from 12:45 PM. Exciting, isn’t it? I wonder what sweet potatoes from 6 hours ago taste like. What did people look like at lunchtime? I bet they all wore hats and read the newspaper and poked each other with their canes until things got heated and a full-out cane-fight happened. I bet hot dogs were less expensive back then. What about me? Was I a dreamer? Was I so young and naive that I thought two pounds of sweet potatoes, a tablespoon of sweet paprika, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a bunch of black beans, some sauteed onions, and a bunch of garlic would taste good after only 6 hours? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The thing about slow cookers, or crackpots, as the Guffawing Uncle in my brain likes to call them, is that they cater to people with attention deficit proclivities. Don’t believe me? Well, can you think of anything else in life that defines success by having you perform a series of tasks and then DOING SOMETHING ELSE FOR HALF A DAY? Someone should open up an Attention Deficit Diner. It would consist of Guy Fieri lookalike waiters taking your order, bringing the raw ingredients to your table, and then dumping them into your lap before driving off into the sunset, laughing (very slowly). But before I start taking meetings with angel investors, I’ve got to eat this time capsule. Smells like naivete!
I’m embarrassed. No, I’m not talking about the time I called my third grade teacher “Mom” in front of the entire class. Or the time I called my college professor “Mom” in front of the entire lecture audience. Or the time I called my Mom “Professor Sandel” in front of a bunch of other Moms. Miraculously, I’m embarrassed for someone other than myself: the angsty cashier with the lip ring working the sample counter at the Popcorn Store. See, Wife and I took a day trip up to Portland, Maine, and, thanks to the glowing endorsement of one of Wife’s friends, we are now inside a store – an actual store with four walls, a ceiling, and a functioning door – that sells nothing but flavored popcorn. If you are currently imagining a whimsical emporium filled with dancing monkeys, a man with a bushy mustache and rosy cheeks playing a calliope, and a gleaming copper kettle overflowing with multicolored popcorn, you are just like me and I want to be your friend. Unfortunately, the particular Popcorn Store in question is just a drafty room with ample shelving holding bags of popcorn. And after my fourth free sample of Ceviche Flavored Popcorn (it really tastes like raw swordfish!), I’m starting to feel sorry, and, yes, a little embarrassed, for Lippy. Not only does Lippy have to use a tiny stainless steel shovel to scoop tiny pieces of popcorn into tiny cups and hand them to tiny children in his tiny apron, but he also has to do this while his suspiciously chipper boss, whom appears to be younger, skips around the store like a schoolgirl in love. She’s even scolding Lippy for sitting down for several seconds while I tuck into this fresh sample of Spicy Blood Sausage. Poor Lippy. Guy probably has nightmares about tiny cups of popcorn flying into his hair. Ooo, I think I’ll try Sauteed Okra next!
Well, this is a first. Wife and I decided to order pizza, as the thought of cooking seemed less desirable than base-jumping off our roof using plastic Market Basket shopping bags as parachutes, but it’s not exactly going according to “plan.” First of all, we ordered our heated objects (I don’t think you can legally call Franchise Pizza Chain Menu Items “food”) almost an hour ago. Whatever happened to that whole thirty minutes or less thing? Did that only exist in movies? Actually, I’m finding more and more that that question applies to pretty much everything in my past. For instance, did I throw a high school party, against my parents’ wishes, only to be caught because my neighbor found a video store receipt, signed by me, amidst a pile of beer cans? Or am I thinking of the movie Weekend at Bernie’s? But I digress. Finally, after much anxious yearning by the kitchen window, like a sea captain’s wife scanning the horizon from a widow’s walk, the pizza delivery guy appeared. Without our objects. As he explained he would have to drive back to the store for our order, the corner of my eye twitched involuntarily. Fast forward to the following morning. I was clutching my abdomen, wincing in pain, as the objects metastasized inside my body, when something unusual caught the corner of my eye. There, on the front step, was the delivery guy’s pizza box carrying case. Or was it? I don’t know–maybe I’m thinking of the movie E.T.
I finally understand why they call them seasons. It is because every winter we liberally sprinkle kosher salt the size of golf balls across our roads and highways, thereby prepping them for the spring pre-heat, summer sizzle, and fall cool-down. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we treat our streets as if they are rib roasts. The question I would like answered is, “Who was the first person to salt a thoroughfare?” and the inevitable follow-up, “How long before the locals accused them of Witchcraft?” Seriously, have you ever stopped to think about how bizarre this municipal practice is? I suspect that before those massive salting plows existed cities unleashed an army of workers with tiny salt shakers and headlamps. Of course, I understand that winter salting is a public safety necessity, but could we at least get some pepper out there as well? Think of all the poor woodland critters who have to munch on over-salted highway medium arugula. And you know those plow drivers aren’t seasoning to taste. They just yank a giant red lever in their climate controlled cabs and unleash tidal waves of Morton’s over hill and dale. Central arteries indeed. At this rate, we’re going to send our major roads and highways straight to the ICU with a massive salt attack. If only we could somehow work olive oil into the mix – it might dilute the salt’s potency. Just don’t forget to put those breadstick chains on your tires before you venture out. The driving conditions are absolutely delicious.