Give the wrong security guard a walkie-talkie and he’ll become drunk with a sense of power. Small-minded and dictatorial, he’ll conjure and impose arbitrary rules designed merely to oppress. Inevitably, strangeness will ensue.
I learned this while shopping for produce.
2002: Battling the aches and pains of fibromyalgia, I juiced. Religiously. And not just fun stuff, like apples and oranges. Having plowed through every book on nutritional healing I could find, I knew what had to be done. Five days a week found me shoving broccoli, string beans, tomatoes, spinach, celery, carrots, Swiss chard and various other vegetables through my juicer’s feed. The resulting concoctions were large glasses of highly nutritious, soil-tasting, watery, foam-topped sludge. I’d steel myself, take a deep breath and down them as quickly as possible, hoping the fluid would reach my alimentary canal before my taste buds caught on.
My taste buds were ever vigilant. Yet, save for one close call (advice: unless under the coercion of terrorists, do not imbibe green pepper juice) never once did I vomit.
Of this I stood proud.
I might have lost jobs to fibromyalgia, but as a juicer, damnit, I was aces.
Beet greens, unusually dense with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, topped the list of my most sought after vegetables. According to many a source, they would restore me to good health, give me stronger hair and nails, and mellow my antagonistic tendencies.
There was, however, one difficulty.
Do you know how hard it is to find decent beet leaves? If not, I’m here to tell you: It’s almost fucking impossible. Limp, tattered, muddy ones? No problem. But quality greens? I was thwarted at every turn. I began to think a secret governmental agency was prohibiting the distribution of what I so sorely needed.
One morning, amassing my goods in the produce section of a large Italian market, I stopped dead and stared. There they were, crowning a bin of discarded carrot tops and corn husks: a splendiferous bunch of robust beet greens.
I grabbed those suckers so fast, you’d have thought they were bars of gold.
“Excuse me,” a man’s voice said.
Turning, I met eyes with a scowling security guard.
“You can’t take those greens,” he said.
“It’s policy. You can’t take anything from the bin.”
My jaw dropped. “But they’re discarded!” Then, arms taking flight, I cried, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to find decent beet greens?”
“Miss,” the guard said sternly, “put them back.”
“But. . .”
The guard glared at me. Muttering, I reached for the greens and returned them to the garbage.
After the guard walked away, I meandered up and down the market’s aisles. When a safe amount of time had passed, I wandered, ever so nonchalantly, back to the bin.
As I made my approach, I looked swiftly left and right. The coast was clear. I grabbed the greens, threw them into my cart, and hustled to the register.
He was waiting for me there.
“Put them back,” the guard said.
“Listen,” I told him. “I’ll pay for them. Whatever you want. Please, just. . .”
The guard puffed up his chest, reached for his walkie-talkie, and raised it to his mouth.
So. This wasn’t really about beet greens. This was about a man with diminutive genitalia, and his opportunity to use his ego-fueling walkie-talkie.
Who, I wondered, was the guard calling? Could he have me arrested?
“Here,” I said bitterly, thrusting the greens at him. “Here are your beloved greens.” Then, narrowing my eyes, I spat, “Have a wonderful day.”
I turned and stormed to the next available register.Singing The S.E.O. Blues | The Black Hole →