My Lettuce is Bad

How about I just get this out of the way now: “Why did the iceberg lettuce rob a bank with a carton of two-week old milk as its accomplice? They turned bad.”

Yes, this is an elementary joke requiring a middle school sense of right vs wrong. You can bank on 99 out of every 100 adults – standing in line at AnyBankUSA – hearing that joke at some point during their lifetimes. Lesser know slang, perhaps, are the hair and money toss-ups into conversational salads. “My lettuce needs to be cut because I’m getting married tomorrow.”, or, “I’ll treat you to a nice dinner … the boss gave me a raise, so I can get some extra lettuce out of the ATM.” Lettuce consider the possibilities, right? … geesh, that is sooo lame and overused, … and stupid.

What is equally inane? My ability to over-buy sausage rolls, ice, … and lettuce for use at my business. No need to over-analyze this or insist that I spend insane amounts of lettuce on vitamin-B shots while sitting comfortably in front of Dr. Person, LFT-LMC-PhD. Granted, the couches are really comfortable and the mental inner-scents of peace sometimes calms my conscious in-hells, but none of this solves an overstuffed basket of carbs, frozen water, and green, empty, leafy vegetables. It’s what I do. Exhale. All is ok.

Extra brown lettuce pieces at the end of a few days could shred any ideas of my getting ahead in life. I buy bagged, easy to use stuff, not the round, have-to-chop-up and dice, cheaper lettuce. That is, if I ever did use the stuff. My food frenzy times don’t resemble a healthy fare market, save the occasional burger nestled on a bed of greens. So, why have it around for the 1 out of 100 who didn’t hear the lousy joke a few paragraphs ago … and want a burger sleeping on top of a green comforter? Why not take lettuce off the menu? Easy question … harder answer.

I can’t. I. Just. Can’t. Move over. I’ll sit next to you on the couch.

Sausages are easy. I go with my instinct – which is: I’ll probably not sell 50% more than I ever do, so buying an equal amount of rolls makes sense. Geesh. Ice? Soda bottles should disappear under an avalanche of frozen water as my profit margin melts over into an over-heated, macadam parking lot. This lettuce thing I have going on pushes my mental squeaky cart into another completely department where aisle spend shelf-ish time staring into fresh bags of pre-shredded lettuce knowing I can’t resist buying at least two bags … for, maybe, one burger. I know this. Even as my hand extends beyond the fine mist spray over the broccoli and weirdly shaped other veggies off to my left, … I know this weakness. So beautiful.

And now, it is sadly brown. Unopened, unappreciated, and never nestled under a burger, my lettuce is bad. So bad, I am forced to toss it in the can, of course. The end of so many bags of unfortunate choices of mine.

Sometimes we do those reaches knowing the outcomes. I know I have. Insert slang terms here … especially money. Investing money in known bad outcomes has been an experience of mine ( disclaimer: sometimes). Consider the phrase, “Stepping over $100’s to pick up $1’s” … None truer for me when testing the envelope of possibilities knowing it’s been sealed by fate.

Hey, I’m not complaining at all. Too many rolls, sodas, and veggies end up correct during my life, so for me to chow down on the three above means I’d choke on my own regret. Nah. No time for that. Do I want the money back I’ve wasted on bad choices? Damn straight!

Bad haircuts always repair themselves through regrowth. Bad life choices are fixed when we recognize them and find the humor inside the stress. I look for the little green sprightliness peeking around mostly brown lettuce in my life at times. Yes, the entire bag has to be tossed; however, experiencing the overwhelming joy when at first that freshness is overwhelming and the anticipation of good things around is emotionally churning? … Very much worth it knowing I’m buying more than I will ever need. I’ll make the investment of time and energy in someone even if I know there will be brown lettuce at the end. Why? Because there will still be some – perhaps a little – green lettuce in the bag at the end AND I’ll feel good reaching out, initially. It may be more than I’ll ever need (experience says it usually is) … so what, right?

Not a bad way to be. My lettuce isn’t that bad, afterall. Still wouldn’t want to see it comfortably placed below a juicy beef patty, though. Brown over brown doesn’t present itself very well. With that, I’m off to the store. Need a few onions and, yes, a bag of lettuce. Maybe two. Who am I kidding? Definitely two. I have enough lettuce to buy many as I want!!

What In Carnation!

We ain’t in River City and I certainly ain’t Harold, but we got trouble … right here. With a capital “T”. Granted, I don’t own the rights to the song or the musical itself (disclaimer out of the way), however, permission to use every synonym associated with the 18th century word tarnation is hereby assigned. Trouble, as well sung in the musical as it is, isn’t close to filling the lead role, although it is in the supporting cast of synonymous players.

Shall I begin with censure, criticism, or denunciation? Perhaps castigation is best? Maybe bewilderment or anger best describes your mood when tarnating someone – if that’s even a thing. Two centuries ago, damnation – the origin of this word under examination – meant an eternity of fire and misery. Today? Just two weeks in isolation with someone who won’t shut up about their position opposite yours on masking, politics, or salt on fruit.

I settled on “Oh, pfft … what the … dagnabit … What in carnation!” when I spied what I spied.

Walking out of a big box store the other morning, what do I see? …

One solitary stem-a-sight-a-licious on the hot pavement. Who in tarnation leaves one beautiful red flower behind and drives off? “Who?” I write. WHO? What in carnation is this world coming to?

Certainly … hopefully … this act of abandoning wasn’t intentional (for to leave such a beauty behind on purpose would be upsetting to even the least of the forbearing, floral gods). Imagined said customer in all likelihood possessed a bouquet of bounteous beauties and was in too much of a hurry to arrive at his/her next port of call. Out of hands this one dropped gently to the ground.

Perhaps even more romantic is the notion of one noticing my slightly greasy, flavorful white Ford van with cart in tow exhaustively exhaling next to gravel-stricken yellow painted lines on over-heated pavement. I being not the only one exiting my vehicle overheated at the notion of masking once again to enter another store once again … this time to momentarily pass an underpaid nice young security lady at the door handing out single-use masks and sanitizer wipes to those so inclined to receive these gifts of Covid-19 invisibility. I declined with whispers behind my cute cloth Dalmatian mask. Back to my fantasy…

One saw this scent-of-a-van and, upon my absence, placed one fine flower next to it as one would gently settle a rose on the casket of a lost loved lover. Thinking, “Oh, I must meet this person to whom this vehicle belongs. I see a sign on the cart, ‘Doug’s Dawgs’ … He must, must be inside. I shall not wait because I am in a hurry. Maybe some day … someday…”, my imaginary friend walked away leaving only a lonely stemmed memory behind.

There was space in my life for a 10 inches long gift to present itself at my feet. Where it came from is known: a big box store full of masked, slightly confused, doing the best-we-can, cart pushing, life-getting through extended neighbors of mine. How it arrived? This is a mystery I am entirely comfortable not knowing. For someone like me who needs to ask why? and have an answer all the freakin’ time, this is off my-OCD game a bit … however, knowing I’ll never be close to the truth, I can let it go.

We still have trouble my friends. Right here in (any) city, don’t we! Ugh. That very day, I ambled out of the store with a cart full of goods not knowing – until hours later – that the very item I went in to buy was missing. I simply forgot to buy it … and needed it for my business. The day before some of my product spoiled without any chance of replacing … and had a large order including that product I couldn’t fulfill. I’ve dropped customers orders on the ground this week, handed out wrong change/under-charged folks, made wrong sandwiches with incorrect toppings, and … my back hurts more than normal. It’s been a week.

What in Carnation is happening! We’ve been asking this since Mid-March, right? All of us.

This flower is currently on the dashboard of my overcrowded van. It rests in an overworked, reliable, friendly automobile as a reminder to those – including me – who don’t take enough time to do the same during these troubling times. At some settled time, this flower will fade out and lose color, but not its significance. The consequence of seeing it lay at my feet that day does not dim with the passage of time, however, as each opportunity to be happy in the midst of trouble is a flower in and of itself.

We’re going to be at this virus-thing for a while, it seems. I’m no doctor, although I could be, in some imaginary t.v. afternoon soap opera universe, be ascribed the moniker “Dr. Doug” (but, I digress …), so, try to find a small flower at your feet that a stranger leaves for you. A smile. Spare change for a free cup of coffee. A $5 lottery ticket. Time away for a few minutes you wouldn’t normally get. I don’t know what it’ll be. Only the perky little parking lots in life will be able to provide the answers for you. There’s something out there that will make perfect scents for you, I’m sure.

I am willing to keep looking myself. On stage with Harold Hill I’m not. Just a simple guy with simple ideas tripping over little flowers left behind by who-knows bodies. I am aware that I must continue forward living life the best I know how in the midst of this goofy time – as all of us must. Covid be damned … err … Darnation, anyway!

Specifically, I am looking forward to change – especially the correct amount in return to my customers as I hand over the proper sandwiches with the exact toppings ordered, not dropped on the ground (which I wouldn’t serve anyway, just to clarify), and all without grimacing and moaning quietly behind my face covering due to my achy-breaky back. That is, if I remembered to pick up what I needed in the first place.

Back to the store again sometime soon. Say, “Hi!” if you see me there. I’ll be the one handing out invisible carnations disguised as a smile behind my mask. We’re all on stage together. It certainly isn’t River City, but it’s home.

Find your flowers.