Walking into the supermarket, I was in a good mood. I needed only a few items, so I wouldn’t have to abuse my aching joints by walking up and down every aisle. The weather was nicer than we deserved this time of year, although I realized in a few more months scientists would, once again, declare it the hottest year on record since T. rex realized he couldn’t buy a jacket with short-enough sleeves.
My first stop was at the deli, where I asked for a pound of provolone. I get on dietary tangents during which I eat a certain food every day. I’m sure you do, too, so drop me a note and tell me about yours.
A few years ago, my must-have food was grapefruit juice, until I learned it counteracted certain medicines; fruit is good for you but not always.
Then it was peanut butter. Every day, every night, crunchy Jif in one form or another. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. With crackers. Mixed into dishes you normally wouldn’t associate with it (chili, anyone?). Straight from the jar. I’m not completely over that obsession yet, but I’ve backed off a bit after discovering provolone cheese.
I eat provolone on sandwiches, in salads, in sloppy breakfast burritos that I invented before I found out their neater brethren are sold in fast-food joints. Provolone was well-ingrained in my diet before I realized the thicker the slice, the better the taste. Delis generally call that thickness “No. 3.”
I greeted the man behind the counter, asking him how he was. I placed my order, explaining in detail how I like the thick, No. 3 slices. While he worked, I went looking for a dozen or so eggs.
Back at the deli counter, the man handed me my order. I thanked him. My fingers ran over the plastic bag as I started to walk away.
“Uh, excuse me, but I don’t think these slices are No. 3,” I said in a friendly voice.
“No,” he said, “they’re No. 2.”
I waited for him to offer an explanation: “Our No. 2 is as thick as everyone else’s No. 3,” or, “I flunked math in school,” or, as though to demonstrate that defense: “Just put two No. 2 slices on your sandwich and that will equal No. 3.”
He just stared ahead, though, so I let it drop. If I insisted he reslice the order, the store probably would toss out the thin cheese. My farm upbringing taught me never to waste food, and even if I wouldn’t be destroying a pound of skinny cheese myself, I felt guilty that I would be responsible for it. (Although I used to attend Mass with a girlfriend, the services were in Latin and Spanish so I never picked up any Catholic guilt to go with my farm guilt.)
I was so depressed when I walked away that I didn’t tell the deli man to have a nice day.
Now I feel guilty for being so rude.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419