Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dysfunction Junction Where's Your Injunction?

I stopped by my local grocery yesterday on my way home from work to visit their salad bar and assemble my lunch for the following day. I'm serious as heck about eating healthier, or at least swallowing healthier, stuff. Having a salad at lunch instead of a cholesterol and bacon thrombosis burger is one of the ways I intend to live forever (or feel like forever, which, I suspect, is way more likely).

Some of it is mind over matter-if you think you're making responsible healthy choices, perhaps you do. You think you're behaving differently and more intelligently if you're hydrating in the summer months by drinking Scotch AND water (or so I've been told). I've come to this 'be healthy and be happy' party a little late and my smile is more than faded though I did smile a lot yesterday.

The assemble-your-own-salad-bar is in the corner of the store with the delicatessen on one wall, the fruits and vegetables scattered throughout and along the back wall is the fish counter. Despite half a lifetime of meatless Fridays, I've never been a fish fan. Used to eat swordfish before we screwed that all up and if the Lord had asked me how to feed 5,000 hungry folks I'd have made a play for fish sticks, so you now have a better appreciation of how I am with the creatures of the sea.

As I'm working through the salad bar, there's a young man, perhaps all of five years old (on a good day with a strong breeze at his back, downhill) who is, as are they all at that age, thrilled to be alive and shopping with 'Dad!'. I'm typing it that way, 'Dad!' because that's how it sounded every time he said it. And he said it a lot. Madras shorts and an electric yellow short sleeve shirt, this young fellow, standing before the lobster display case, was as enchanted as if he were at Sea World.

The lobsters at $5.99 a pound, rubber bands around their claws, stacked like so much cord wood on the bottom of the display case were just about at his eye level. He touched the glass, somewhat tentatively and then realized they couldn't bite him and started to slide his hand along the glass, shuffling his feet and shouting for 'Dad!' over and over and louder and louder like maybe 'Dad!' was deaf instead of ignoring him. He wasn't the least bid sad that the lobsters weren't chasing his hand-besides, he was in no hurry.

After minutes of this, 'Dad!' caved and came over to the display tank where his son announced he'd 'really like to get one of these to take home!' (it's possible all children around the world, until they hit double digits, think and talk in exclamation points). 'Dad!' calling his son 'buddy' seemed okay with this idea and suggested getting a second lobster as well 'for mom' while he and 'buddy' shared this one.

'Buddy' nearly went along with this proposal until he considered what his mother might make of a lobster as a pet, which nearly all of us in the area of the display were pretty sure is what 'buddy' had in mind. I say nearly all because 'Dad!' had no clue at all. After observing 'buddy, I didn't know you liked lobster', and in turn being promised by 'buddy' that he'd take of the lobster and 'walk him everyday' all I needed was the fat lady to sing, after fetching the melted butter and lemon.

'Dad!' was now on thin ice (technically he was in water to his ankles) but seemed to think he had a teachable moment here, somewhere. He got as far as explaining that 'we eat lobsters, bud----' "EAT THEM!" the child shrieked. "WHY WOULD WE EAT THEM?" As questions go, this is an excellent one, especially had it been followed with 'how do we eat them?' Instead the child, now staring at a man he'd never suspected of cannibalism, kept repeating so loudly I'm sure you could hear him in the parking lot (perhaps in Delaware) 'Dad!' 'Dad!' Dad!'

I assume Steve and Bindi Irwin had many similar moments. Luckily, Mom (no exclamation point please) arrived from, I think, the cereal aisle and scooped up a now openly sobbing 'buddy' shooting a 'I will boil you for this' look at 'Dad!' while marching towards the deli counter to get the child a please be quiet bribe slice of salami. I'd tell you what I was thinking of sharing with 'buddy' about where we get salami but mom had a visage that would make a train run on a dirt road (thanks Dave M) and I really needed to find some arugula for my salad.
-bill kenny

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