Tag Archives: Ninja

Food of Dubious Origins

Food is my one true love, and I am accepting of all its forms, whether it be moldy, partially consumed by a stranger, or, as the title suggests, of dubious origins. My friends have referred to me as ‘the garbage disposal’; ‘trash compactor’; and ‘a relentless, insatiable, gaping maw that demands constant sacrifice’. When I go out to dinner in a group, I don’t order anything; instead, I salivate as my friends scarf their foodstuffs in hurried discomfort. But they are weak and their portions large, and they always end up leaving their delicious (and completely free) scraps as offerings for my all-controlling stomach of steel.

Heavier than a falling anvil! More elastic than a drawstring laundry bag!

Nothing fazes my mithril-lined esophagus. I rip the mold off cheese with my teeth, then swallow it; I put brown bananas into my smoothies, then drink them; and if meat smells rotten, I just wash it off until the offending odor is masked, and if that’s not enough, I simply stop inhaling through my nose.

I inherited these traits from my father, whose circus-strength stomach allows him to digest anything soluble in stomach acid, no matter how expired. As a bargain hunter, nothing brings him more joy than the reduced-for-quick-sale section at the supermarket. The fewer hours of shelf life a store item has left, the cheaper it is, so he treks to the grocery store minutes before closing time, scoring discolored meat and wilted spinach for a fraction of the original price.

As his offspring, I was constantly subjected to these expired triumphs, and rarely experienced a dinner untouched by the twin seasonings of freezer burn and decomposition. I think my father was trying to forge my stomach into a food chamber as impervious as his, and for the most part, it worked.

Even if I do sometimes come down with a case of excruciating stomach pain, my mind remains steadfast, addicted to the rush that comes with avoiding waste, no matter the consequences. Nothing parallels the taste of environmentalism that comes with every bite you take to save an abandoned morsel from the dumpster.

At restaurants, I am so disgusted at the wanton squandering of perfectly good food that I sometimes sneak scraps off the tables of strangers before the waiter can throw away that last bite of steak or half-glass of wine. I revel in my delicious, planet-saving ways, always to the horror of my dates, who, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, never return my calls.


While this example is of course eminently reasonable, sometimes my attempts to save food go just a little bit too far. I know, I know, you’d think there’s no such thing as too far when it comes to this, but believe me when I say it’s happened.

Like last summer, when half a burrito appeared in our fridge following a week of drunken revelry. Thanks to the haze of our collective memory, no one could pinpoint where it had come from, and despite our Holmesian powers of deduction, further inspection gave us little insight. We were unable to determine even the ingredients, for they’d all faded to a uniform shade of grey. Naturally, the only option left was for me to use the tried and true Taste Test. I heated up the sucker and took a bite—

SON OF AN UNDEAD SKUNK it was terrible! I’d never tasted such disgusting meat, if it could still be called ‘meat’.

But I’m a glutton for attention as well as food, so I announced my findings loudly to the group, complaining with what I considered entertaining zeal…and then took another bite—HOLY MOTHER OF MOLD it was just as bad as I remembered. And yet I took another bite…and another, loudly lamenting my fate the entire time, until finally the whole thing was gone.

I was had just enough time to lift my arms into a celebratory first pump before my stomach contracted in violent spasms. That night was spent mostly moaning and rolling around on the floor.

——–

Better was that time I woke up and walked into the backyard to observe the glory of the morning, where much to my surprise I happened upon a giant vat of chili sitting on the porch. That was the most glorious morning of all. There was no telling how long it had been sitting there beneath the beating sun, and the manner of its arrival was similarly mysterious. Was it perhaps left by an assassin who was aware of my inability to resist unexplained food?

And how long had it been baking in the heat, turning from delicious bean-meat to disgusting heat-rot?

These were the thoughts that didn’t once cross my mind as I began to devour it with abandon. It was as delicious as any unexplained porch chili I’d ever tasted. Whatever poisons the recipe had called for obviously didn’t affect the flavor or consistency.

——–

Probably my family’s crowning achievement in the world of questionable food preservation was our pilfering of what became known to all our friends as the “trash burgers.” You see, at the end of my high school baseball season, one of my rich teammates’ families threw a party. It was an extravagant affair, riddled with a lavish assortment of buns, condiments, and chips, and they spared no expense on the mostly-beef hot dogs and the Costco burger patties. They grilled literally hundreds of burgers, an unmanageable number by anyone’s standards. The 14 of us and our assorted family members did what we could to dent the meatacopia, but we were no match for the half-cow of beef that lay before us.

As the party drew to a close, it became clear that at least 70 burgers would go uneaten, but before clan Nickel could react, the party-thrower dumped them all in the trash in an act of pure apathy! By god, man! What were you thinking?! There will be starving children at the Nickel household in oh, 8 or 10 hours!

Seeing those perfectly good patties tumble with finality into that unforgiving germ canister was one of the worst moments of my life, or was at least slightly disheartening.

I was younger then, and less resolute, so I merely mourned the loss, trading hope for less effective tears. But my dad, he’s a man of action. He called me to his side, and together we analyzed the physics of the trash can. It quickly became clear that with such a quantity of burgers, it was impossible for all of them to touch actual trash. We rejoiced, seeing to our delight that a good 40% of the burgers were protected on all sides by a buffer layer of more burgers!

Not caring who judged us, we proceeded to pluck every unsoiled patty from its doom and stack them onto a series of plates. We feasted on those burgers for weeks and weeks, tasting joy in every rescued bite.

We’re humanitarians of the highest degree—that’s what I say.

Man, all this talk of food is making me hungry. If only I had something to eat. Wait a second! I’m pretty sure I have some sushi leftover from last week! Excuse me, would you?

Advertisements

41 Comments

Filed under Stories

My Lack of Craftsmanship Stops a Thief

When I went to college, I bought a mini-fridge. We went through a lot together, Stinky Pete and I, like the time I left Bagel Bites in him over winter break and had to carry him down three flights of stairs so I could hose out the large, circular clumps of mold that were assaulting my nostrils with their pungent death spores and, more importantly, trying to steal my friend from me.

Every summer apart from Stinky was a hardship. After I’d said a quick goodbye to my roommate and girlfriend, I’d spend the evening with my fridge, trying to sneak in just a few more hours before the inevitable. I knew how lonely he’d be, unplugged and unused, and I did my best to comfort him.

Then, one fall, I got back to school, pulled Stinky Pete out of storage, and opened him up, only to discover that all his shelves were missing!

What could have happened to them? I racked my brain, but could find no answer. Before long, the lost shelves began to haunt my every waking moment, and when I slept, I dreamt of those perfectly sculpted pieces of glass. I forgot to shower, to eat, to hope, and my life became one downward spiral of shelfless horror. Do you know how inconvenient a fridge without shelves is? Food storage quickly became nothing more than a twisted, unending game of perishable Jenga, and I was too scared to try to actually remove anything from the precarious fortress.

When you find yourself in this sort of situation, there’s only one thing to do. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a hammer before, it doesn’t matter if every time your dad tried to make you help with home projects you ran screaming, and who cares if you aren’t even aware that a hammer probably isn’t a relevant tool for constructing a glass shelf. My fridge needed me, and I couldn’t turn my back anymore.

I went to the local shelving store and asked for their finest piece of shelvery, but they didn’t really have any of that because they were a Home Depot and those places scare me, so I bought a piece of shelf-looking glass and invested in a glass cutter, which is about as safe in my hands as two putty knives in the hands of a child.

I combined the glass cutter and glass in the only way I knew how, namely in the middle of my floor and with a great deal of trepidation. Turns out you’re supposed to be pretty sure of yourself and make one clean stroke, but like a first-time headsman, it took me quite a few tries to hack my way through, which led to a lot of thin lines of glass on my floor and an edge that was as jagged as the shoreline of my love life.

I had no reasonable way to sand the death trap, so I took it outside and just rubbed it on the cement for a long time, pouring water on it as I went because I know water has something to do with erosion, and I figured erosion was like slow-paced sanding. Pieces kept chipping off and making it worse, but eventually there was a pretty long period without chipping, and I figured that was about as smooth as I’d get it, so with great ceremony, I put it in the fridge.

Flash forward: it’s 2011 and Stinky Pete has been enjoying his new shelf. We have some friends over, including this guy Nick. He’s the kind of badass who’ll punch a bear just cause “it was asking for it,” but I guess he’s not particularly shelf savvy, so when he reaches into the fridge to grab a beer, he jabs his hand right into the thing, and suddenly he’s bleeding all over the fridge and the floor and just staring at his hand in shock.

He was pretty tough about it. In fact, this was another one of those utterly emasculating moments. He just walked to my closet, grabbed a hot glue gun, and sprayed the burning stuff all over the wound, wrapped it up in duct tape, continued playing beer pong…and won. But at some point, the wound opened back up and became a mini Niagara Falls of bleediness. I’m on the verge of fainting because I hate things that remind me of Niagara Falls, but some other people who have fewer negative associations take Nick over to our neighbor’s house who’s more medically prepared and less faint-y, and while we’re all out of the apartment…

A thief sneaks in!

Since we’re a trusting, naive bunch of blokes, we’d left a brand new Macbook Pro, the Holy Grail of opportunistic temptation, sitting just inside the door. The thief promptly scoops it up and high-tails it out of there.

We’re all too busy trying to staunch my fridge’s handiwork to notice, but somehow Nick sees the guy, jumps up, and sprints outside, hurtling toward the thief like a gigantic boulder of fury. We think he’s just in the throes of a blood frenzy, but before we can even give each other accurately confused looks, he’s out of sight.

Apparently, Nick chases this guy through the entire apartment complex and out into the street. He’s gibbering like a madman and waving his bloody hand everywhere, and it’s spraying like crazy. The thief takes one look behind him and freaks the hell out, so the guy, in an attempt to save himself with a well-timed distraction, hurls the laptop through the air. Nick’s split-second-animal-instinct brain determines that saving the laptop is the highest priority and makes this epic dive for the thing, soon-to-be hand-stump stretched to its absolute limits—

And falls a couple inches short.

The laptop shattered, but it’s ok, cause Apple gave us a new one for free! All thanks to my fridge, because who knows if the thief would’ve chucked the laptop if he hadn’t been so terrified of Nick’s gruesome hand, which was only as frightening as it was because of my shelf-building skills…but then again, I guess we wouldn’t have been out of the apartment if the fridge hadn’t sliced him up, and then he wouldn’t’ve had to go the emergency room, and he wouldn’t have that hideous scar, and I wouldn’t’ve had to spend the night bleaching blood out of my carpet like a serial killer, and I wouldn’t need to keep going to therapy because I no longer feel safe in my home…

Maybe I should try to improve my craftsmanship skills.

56 Comments

Filed under Stories