My Life

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #36 (The “Sugar-Crusted Jelly at the Salvador Deli” Version)

Yesterday, I ate enough food to feed a family of twelve.

It all started out rather innocently, as I often state, usually with some degree of tongue in cheek, around mid-morning. Partner and I had arisen and were mutually staring into the jungle of contents within our wide-open fridge. (This is often how we plan our meals, waiting for inspiration whilst the electricity bill clicks ever higher. I apparently learned nothing in my childhood, when my father would have thumped me on head for being so fiscally irresponsible and then slammed the door in my face.)

We discovered a tube of Pillsbury biscuits (the “Grands!” kind, meaning they are larger than normal, as Partner and I are pigs and we can never select chaste items from any menu) that had technically expired the day before. Back in my working days, with those regular and admittedly-hefty paychecks, I would have simply tossed the tube and moved on. But now that I’m retired and one eye is always on the budget, the new normal is that we simply must eat the Grands before the potentiality of digestive malfeasance increased by letting them sit any longer. So, biscuits for breakfast it was to be.

I would have been fine with just the biscuits as, and this would prove to be the ironic element of the day, I really wasn’t all that hungry. I just needed some butter and jelly and all would be good. Partner, however, is a bit of a completist when it comes to meal preparation and presentation, so he also snatched up some eggs to scramble and some bacon to fry. Soon, enticing aromas were fogging the kitchen. (Cleo the Cat made an appearance, her eyes full of hope. We pointed to her “special diet” treats in her special bowl. She was not impressed and went in search of a place to snooze for 13 hours. Because her life is so hard.)

A bit later, I was separating the steaming biscuits into halves and slathering them with enough butter to cause my personal physician to cut me from his patient list, should video footage ever be released of this gluttonous incident. (So much now-liquid butter was running off the biscuits that I had a small lake on my plate, with the strips of bacon and mounds of scrambled eggs floating around in a rather admirable recreation of the Titanic aftermath. (“Don’t let go, Jack!”)

I then made my jelly selection from the array of options in the fridge. I chose an item from the Mackays line of products, a delightful concoction christened “Blueberry & Black Currant Preserve”. (The Mackays line is delish; try some today!) I unscrewed the lid to discover a sparkly, white, crystalline landscape, indicating that some of the sugar (and they use a lot of it) had separated from the batch and tried to get closer to Jesus.

I instantly flashed-back to my wee-bairn days, when the family-favorite jam line was Griffin’s. (Most likely because Griffin’s was super cheap, a defining factor behind most of our food choices at the time.) In those days, Griffin’s packaged their products in large “glasses” with a pop-off lid. Once you had consumed all the strawberry preserves, you had a lovely tea glass that you could add to your dinnerware cupboard. We ended up with thousands of them, to the point that if you broke one, nobody gave a damn at all. Besides, there would most likely be a replacement glass after the next breakfast session.

Griffin’s used even more sugar than Mackays currently does, so when you popped that special top there was a sugar-cake-layer the size of a hockey puck. You had to pry that sucker out of the way to get to the good stuff, which seemed a bit of a waste. Until you realized that you could chunk the sugar puck into a freshly-made pitcher of sweet tea, assuming you didn’t mind the tinge of grape or peach, and then serve the beverage in one of the hundreds of jelly glasses. (Poor folks had to be creative, natch.)

I shook off this reverie and returned to the present day, wherein I zapped the jar of Mackays in the microwave for a few seconds to soften the sugar cap. (No really, it works. Just don’t get carried away with the zapping time.) I then stirred up the contents, working the sugar granules back into the main mix. (They would have to meet Jesus some other day.) Finally, I doused my already-sodden biscuits with enough blueberry and black currant goo that the melted butter instantly became jealous.

I then ate everything on my plate, smacking my lips indulgently. (I was actually full after the first half biscuit, but I have control issues.) Twenty minutes later, I was sprawled on a couch in the den, moaning and groaning and cursing the fact that food is so readily available in this house. I was theoretically watching some TV show that Partner had picked out on the DVR, but I really don’t remember a thing, having slipped into catatonia at some point.

That was Round 1.

Round 2 occurred later that afternoon, when we met up with friends at Mario’s Mexican and Salvadorian Restaurant. (I’ve written about this establishment before, in a post found here. If you remember that story, or if you perused it now, you’ll recall that the one key element to remember about such a place is that the drinks are really strong. Somebody up in that bar has a generous pouring technique.) Naturally, I forgot my own advice, and I sucked down the first drink like an anteater on crack. (Truth be told, it’s very possible that I may have ordered the “jumbo” version of the sangria swirl, but I’m not signing anything.)

I was instantly buzzed. And part of the joy of buzzing, at least in my version, is that I become very invested in anything that anyone might have to say. I was talking to everybody about everything, don’t hold back, let me have it. (For those of you who know me well, I usually don’t say anything to anybody unless extreme coercion is involved. Even then, I do so grudgingly.) I had at least five other people at the table convinced that we were Best Friends 4 Ever.

I ordered another drink, possibly a jumbo, still not signing anything. The merriment and joviality continued.

The waiter finally convinced us to order our dinners, probably inspired by the guests surrounding our long table demanding that he get some food into us so we would stop cackling like witches in heat. (We may or may not have been kind of loud, not signing.) I noticed that everyone else was ordering from the Mexican side of the menu, which seemed kind of silly to me. How often can you get authentic Salvadorian food? Even in Texas, not that much. So, I purposely and dramatically ordered something called “Mario’s Sampler”, trying to make a point.

This point was somewhat lost as I apparently stumbled when announcing my selection to the waiter, because he responded to my announcement by asking how I would like my burger cooked. (Turns out that there’s another item on the menu called “Mario’s Burger”, in a small section reserved for anal-retentive gringos who shouldn’t be in this restaurant in the first place. I guess there might have been some slurring and/or forgetting of critical keywords on my part, not signing.)

Eventually the waiter figured out which item I actually wanted, but then he startled me with another question. “Is the chicken okay?”

Why is he asking me that? I didn’t recall any options when I read the description. Of course, I hadn’t recognized most of the things in that description, I just knew that it was a variety of Salvadorian food and I wanted to taste them all, trying to prove a point which now seemed a bit elusive to me. So, I defaulted. “Sure, that would be fine.”

He ran away, hopefully placing our order but possibly leaving the country. Americans can be so annoying.

I continued slurping my second jumbo drink, which was now my best friend, despite my assurances to at least five people at the table that they were my best friends. (I’m a bit of a friend whore when I drink. And I’ll turn on you in a second if a better option comes along.) On the plus side, once we realized that everyone at the table had been involved in our excursion last year to Hidden Valley Ranch in Pecos, New Mexico, we made plans to do it again next year. (You can read a bit about that in a post found here.) I have no idea if anyone will remember this plan. Because, drinking.

The waiter finally arrived with our food, and when he got to me, he slapped a platter in front of me the size of an SUV hubcap, brimming with at least 20 different things that I did not recognize. (Keep in mind that I am not all that hungry, as I was still full from breakfast, with my discreet belches tasting like butter and cholesterol, accented with sangria and personal shame.) But I was determined to at least try everything once. After all, I was making a statement. About something.

I immediately committed a party foul with my first choice. It looked like a burrito, but it was wrapped in masa instead of a tortilla. (A variation on a tamale, perhaps? No clue.) When I cut into it with my fork, there was a bit of an insurrection, as the cut piece decided to leap off the hubcap and land on the table, splatting. Beth, who was sitting on my left, expertly whipped out her cloth napkin and whisked the miscreant away. She was now my best friend, at least for the next three seconds.

In the end, I tried everything on that damn platter. It was all very tasty, but I had no idea what I was eating. And it soon became clear that I shouldn’t have tried everything. I could barely breathe I was so packed with ethnic experiences. I had to get up and walk around the restaurant so things could adjust and shift.

When I got back to the table, I discovered that Beth was no longer my current best friend, because she had ordered me another drink. This one was smaller, but it was topped with Grand Marnier, evil incarnate. I did not need this drink, as I was already having mild visions that one doesn’t have unless alcohol or peyote is involved. (Not that I would know about the second part, I’m just guessing. Swear.)

Trooper that I am, I began sipping on that third drink, but not before handing my car keys to Partner. He was still, wisely, nursing on his first jumbo. He was now the salvation point for our drive home. Good luck with that, pumpkin. Love you.

Eventually, everyone was properly sated and it was time to depart. We made our farewells (“Hidden Valley Ranch next year! Be there or be square!”) and then piled into our various vehicles. I’m sure I babbled the entire way home. Because, drinking. Once at the domicile, I could have easily gone right to bed, but I knew that was not a viable option. If I fell face down on the mattress at 8 o’clock, I would be wide awake at one in the morning. So, we watched an episode of “Hollywood Game Night” (Jane Lynch is a hoot!) and then an episode of “Dateline” (Why is it that the villainous perpetrator always does something incredibly stupid that leads to their conviction? Do we not have any smart killers anymore? This country is going to hell.)

At ten-thirty, I fell face down.

At three-thirty in the morning, I woke up. Damn it. This was so not good.

Then the grumbling and bubbling started. Something was clearly amiss with my digestive system. I can’t imagine why. Surely it didn’t have anything to do with me consuming enough grease in the last 16 hours that you could drill for oil and hit a geyser on the first try. In any case, I was convinced that I was carrying Rosemary’s baby. And he was pretty pissed about the whole situation. I just needed to stay perfectly still and this would all pass so I could drift off again.

I did not drift off. For a very long time.

Instead, I composed this post in my head whilst my cervix slowly dilated, preparing for an unholy delivery.

And now I’m delivering this post to you.

Because you’re my best friend. Until the next drink.




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