Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Than You Can Chew

While it's true that I can put my fist in my mouth, if this pickle and I were playing poker, I'd have folded long ago. As you can see, I did manage to get one good bite in, but it was half-hearted--I attacked without a strategy and quickly retreated, defeated.

I'm making it sound as though the big crazy pickle simply got the better of me, but the emotions it brought up were actually quite complex. I thought I'd be getting a little dish of pickle chips, or perhaps some petite, nonthreatening gherkins--but this pickle was so large I felt overwhelmed just looking at it. You know how all flustered and blustered you feel when a situation seems unmanageable?

And then of course there's the guilt that comes from wasting food, and sadness because the man responsible for the pickle made it with care and love and probably a little pride--and here I am maybe a tiny bit repulsed by it. We all know what it feels like when our advances or gifts are unwanted and unwelcome--it's just sort of sad.

Anyway, the pickle reminded me of an unfortunate episode that took place when I was living on Pacific Street in Brooklyn, when I'd just come to New York after college. We had recently stopped paying rent when we found out the pseudo-landlord we'd been giving our checks to foreclosed (I think) on the building and no longer owned it. Alas, that also meant the end of the heat and hot water, which were still in his name. We'd leave the oven on to keep the place warm, and I remember having some sort of flu that left me with painful red nodules on my legs from knee to ankle. I felt completely overwhelmed and powerless. And aaaackkk--we haven't even gotten to the pickle yet…

OK, so there were rodents in the basement, too--just mice I figured, until one day a whacked-out rat came out to eat the cats' dry food right out of the dish. Your headspace just moves to a whole new level of fear and horror when there's a freakin' rat in your kitchen--and he was a poor, sick, screwed-up rat, too, all bedraggled and psychotic-looking, like R. Crumb drew him, sweaty and bulgy-eyed and jonesin' for a cat-food fix. I remember my sweet calico girl-cat Paloma, trying to go head to head with the rat. She hissed at him, puffed up as big and scary as she could get, but soon gave up. It was futile--the rat was so big and weird that Paloma realized she was no match for him. I still remember her face when she saw the big f*cker and looked at me like, "WTF, MOM?!!! Who's this nutter, this Frankenmouse, eating my food?"

And yeah, I know it's not really fair to compare this innocent, though large pickle to a rabid rat, but well...

Next time, I'm gonna get the kale dip.

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