Dinner is my favorite time of evening. This is because I enjoy eating food after lunch but before the following breakfast. When I am able to prepare dinner for my family in the relaxing circumstances of a clean kitchen while watching the Travel Channel, I feel happier than a Hindu pilgrim reaching the Ganges on bathing day. In the spirit of that metaphor, we had killed the sacred cow (an image abhorrent to Hinduism but crucial to my dinner) and we were going to eat high on the hog. In reality, no pigs were involved. (Pigs are filthy beasts who live and root in their own filth. Though I do adore bacon, sausage, pork chops, pork loin, and ham.) Let me also add, I was not directly involved with the death of the cow. The cow was killed by a butcher.
Earlier that morning, I went to the grocery store. The place is a maze. To navigate the parking lot and the shelves inside requires a Hunger Games like set of survival skills. Does the world want me to win? Am I supposed to be able to buy food? Will I be required to use a bow and arrow in order to buy cranberry juice? At the end, will they change the rules and allow two winners, from both Howard Street and Middle Road?
My shopping list was complete, clear, and well written in a 14th century calligraphic font: steaks, potatoes, and tomatoes. Despite the recent rearrangement of the aisles and products, these items were all in close proximity. The fruit and vegetables were still boxed, side by side, near the cooler containing the lettuce. The potatoes, contained in cardboard on one side, were covered in dirt and misshapen like stolen kidneys ready to be sold on the black market. Facing the potatoes were hothouse tomatoes, the organic stepchildren of the salad industry. One basket and two bags would eliminate these items from my list. The steaks were another matter altogether.
The meat cooler was angled across from an array of coconut nectar, Pepsi, wine, beer, Gatorade, and water. Message from the meat department: meat makes you thirsty. Understood! Meat means beverages. By last count I was cooking for me, Jo Jo, Little Bit, La La, Mama, Don Juan, and Don Juan’s possible girlfriend. Do the dog’s count too? That’s seven to nine steaks. Should I have pre-ordered an entire cow? No! The entire cow was on hand and sliced into easily cooked and digestible pieces. My one basket was not going hold the better part of one cow and a small organic farm. Besides, it looked like rain. The cooking hour was near.
Like a good carnivore, I prepped the steaks with three basic ingredients: salt, pepper, and a dab of Worcestershire Sauce. If I’m doing this right, I’ll enhance the flavor of the meat and not kill its natural tastes with the bottles of junk I keep in the refrigerator. When the steaks went in the oven, I grabbed an iced tea to pause for a moment before beginning the salads.
About thirty seconds later, the phone rang. I looked at the caller id. I didn’t recognize the number or area code. This meant one of two things; it was a telemarketer trying to sell the church Duck Dynasty Bible covers or a political pollster. Honestly, I hoped it was a pollster. Conversations with the pre-programmed robots who ask opinion questions can be fun. It wasn’t a pollster. And no, it wasn’t a telemarketer. It was something better than both of those combined. I was prank called.
“Hello,” I said.
“Uh, yes, this is Jake from CVS”. “Jake” was a girl trying to lower her voice about two octaves.
Here’s a chance to make an important point: if you’re going to prank call me, don’t rip off Jake from State Farm and confuse him with CVS. Jake is an institution. Dumb.
“Yes, your extra small condoms have arrived for pick up and are in at CVS.”
“My extra small condoms,” I asked?
“Yes, the ones that curve and bend to the left.”
“And where can I pick these up again?”
By this time Jake is talking very quickly.
“Jake, you’re speaking very fast, I’m having trouble understanding you, are speaking the English language? Do you even know how to properly prank call someone in the English language?” Jake’s grammar was atrocious.
“What? The CVS on (in audible)”
“Jake, hold on one moment, I need to flip my steaks and get a pad to write down the address,” I said.
Jake, being an idiot, held on.
When I returned to the phone, Jake was snickering with a friend.
“Jake, I need to tell you I don’t think you’re problem is with my condoms.”
“Really,” he laughed
In my deepest, most frightening preacher voice I said, “You’re possessed by Satan and I’m going to exorcise this demon over phone right now.”
Jake hung up. About two minutes later, I used the caller id function to call Jake back. Not being the most experienced prank caller, Jake had forgotten to block his number. The person on the other end sound surprised.
Someone else answered, Jake’s snickering friend.
“Has Jake’s demon left?” I asked.
“We don’t where we got this number, “she stumbled.
“And never tell an exorcist his condoms are at CVS, it makes him angry.”