Thursday, February 2, 2012

"First Day Back"

We woke up at 7 A.M., London time. We flew to Los Angeles, with a stopover in Dallas, arriving home at 11 P.M., Los Angeles time, which, adding the eight-hour time difference, would make it 7 A.M., London time, the following day. Meaning, we had been up twenty-four hours straight.

That’s my excuse.

Knowing my body, I was sure I would need some bodywork after sitting for something like twelve hours on a plane. My back doesn’t like plane rides. You know how your nose squinches up when it smells some unpleasant odor? That’s what my back does on airplanes. It clenches up, “clenching” being “squinching “for backs. The difference is, once the unpleasant odor is removed, the nose returns to its regular position. My back remains clenched.

This is why, before I left L.A., I made an appointment to see the “Horse Doctor” for the first day I got back. I have mentioned the “Horse Doctor” before. He calls himself a “Body Mechanic” (for people and horses), though I view him respectfully as a Renaissance “Body Mechanic”, as he appears to have read every book I’ve ever mentioned to him, and remembers way more about all of them than I do, even though I read them recently, and he read them in college, thirty years ago.

Anyway, the “Horse Doctor” unclenched my back, and off I went. Since we’d been gone for seventeen days, we had no food in the house we were willing to eat. So I drove over to Whole Food, to pick up some “staples”, including, for me, various items of Gluten-Free comestibles.

I eat a lot of that now. I seem to have some digestive difficulties around wheat, so I’m avoiding it. (I fear this disclosure may cost me some readers in Saskatchewan.)

I load up my cart. Gluten-Free frozen waffles. Gluten-Free hamburger buns. Soy ice cream bars. (I’m also avoiding dairy. Oops, there goes Wisconsin.) I step up to this machine where you press a button, and it grinds almonds into fresh almond butter, swirling it into a clear plastic tub that you hold under the nozzle.

I then roll my cart over to the “Prepared Meats” counter. As requested, an attractive female employee selects and wraps up two turkey burger patties.

In all, I accumulate about a dozen items. I have one thing left on my mental shopping list – Pomegranate Juice – good for the prostate, I’ve been told. That’s what Whole Foods is all about:

“Healthy Stuff At Outrageous Prices!”

(“And We Don’t Even Know If They Work”)

Pick up the Pom, and I’m out the door, home, and in bed. I don’t care that it’s afternoon. My head and I imagine various other body parts are in another time zone. The only way to reunite them is through sleep.

Almost ready to check out, I reflexively reach for my wallet, reliably stationed in my right side pants pocket.

My wallet is not there.

It is immediately “Panic Time.” There I stand, a shopping cart filled of groceries. And not a penny to pay for them.

Frantically, I check my other pockets, pockets that have never once carried a wallet, and are wondering what the heck is going on.


BACK POCKET: Who does he think he is? A truck driver?

I do not know what to do. Let me freely acknowledge that I am not quick-witted in a crisis. My brain freezes up. And today, it’s even worse. My brain is still in transit, hovering somewhere over the Atlantic.

Making a run for it is not an option. I am not a person who makes runs for it. Plus, Whole Foods is patrolled by uniformed guards, packing big, scary-looking guns. Which seems incongruous in such otherwise mellow surroundings.

“Put down the arugula, or I’ll fill you full of holes.”

My only option, it appears to my vacant lot of a mind, is that I have to put everything back. So that’s what I do, meticulously retracing my steps. Back go the bananas. Back go the Gluten-Free waffles. Back go the organic blueberries. Back goes the Original Unsweetened Rice Milk.

There are only two items left – the almond butter, and the two, wrapped turkey burger patties.

And here I totally choke. I mean, what am I supposed to do , stuff the almond butter back up the machine, and have it miraculously reconstitute itself into almonds? I had already made the stuff. It was almond butter now. And almond butter it would stay.

Bereft of options – I thought of eating the almond butter, but there was a whole lot of it – I surreptitiously abandon the tub beside the machine, hoping some other almond butter customer – a customer with money – will notice it, imagine it was “pre-ground” for their convenience, and welcome it into their cart.

As for the final item? Well…unwilling to return to the “Prepared Meats” counter and face the music,

“(SHEEPISHYLY) I don’t have any money.”

I left the two wrapped turkey burger patties in the cart,

And ran.

It turns out that in my semi-somnambulant state, I had left my wallet at the “Horse Doctor’s”. So, rather than providing my body with a desperately needed nap, I was instead required, with my last vestige of consciousness, to drive back to his office and pick it up. It was now past sundown. I will not burden you with my difficulties, trying to locate his street in the dark, something I’d have difficulty doing awake.

The next day, more rested and fully walleted, I revisit Whole Foods, picking up the same items I had dutifully reshelved the day before, some of them exactly the same items. I recognized the haphazard replacement, the box of Dairy-Free Ice Cream bars, returned to the freezer compartment backwards.

There was one final item to recover – two turkey burger patties the ones I had left moldering in the shopping cart the day before. Not the same ones, hopefully. Replacements.

With any luck, there would be a different serving person facing me from across the counter.

It was the same serving person.

“Two turkey burger patties”, I said, feigning obliviousness to my misdeeds, and trying my best not to look like somebody she had wrapped up two turkey burger patties for the day before. I was hoping for no probing.

“Did you eat them already?” she inquired.

Worst Case Scenario – front and center. My quick-on-my-feet response?

“They were very good.”


Max Clarke said...

Good post, Earl.

I heard a nutritionist once explain one of he problems with gluten. The body doesn't naturally digest it, so the particles actually damage the digestive tract during their passage.

Something like that.

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; I've always viewed Whole Foods and its ilk as, "food is delicious, but icky, we take the icky out and make it okay for you to have." They tap into our own self loathing for our bodies, or would you say that's too much?