The Fountain of Youth Is In The Grocery Store

I shopped for food this week, lots of it. Most everything I bought was in a package of some sort – plastic, paper, glass or aluminum. The only area of the store without packaging was in the produce section, but even there, I wasn’t so sure I was getting fresh. Everything looked perfect, shiny, and blemish-free.

There’s a scandal in the news about our genetically modified corn. It seems Russia has refused to import it, citing it’s dangerous to the health of Russians and can cause cancer.

Good for Americans but not so good for foreigners? Hmm. 

This GMO food thing is scary.

Have you bought a tomato lately? It tastes like corrugated paper, but it’s oh so pretty to look at.

How about grapes? They’re getting plumper every year. And not a blemish anywhere.

I bought a bag of shredded cabbage a month ago, threw it into the cold drawer of my refrigerator and forgot it. I discovered it a month later buried under a bag of carrots.

“There’s something fishy about the cabbage,” I told Alf.

“Oh yea, what?”

“It’s bright and perky. If should be rotten by now if it was real.”

“Let’s give it to Calvin and find out,” Alf said.

“If he starts to smolder, we run for cover,” I said.

Calvin says, “I don’t smolder. Fart, that’s another story.” 

Are Museums For Americans Too?

In his book Priceless, author Robert Wittman says that more Americans visit museums than go to ball games.

Hmm.

I was recently at the MoMA in New York on a Friday night when you can get in for free. There were hordes of people waiting in line, more crowds already inside the building, and there were ten people deep by almost every painting hanging on the walls.

All of them were speaking a foreign language. French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, you name it, I heard it.

And the Americans?

There were two. My friend, Elle and me. We didn’t speak much because we were craning our necks to see the Picassos, Van Goghs, and Monets in the room.  

There was a group of Italians occupying the middle of the room listening with rapt attention to their guide. He was a tall man, with greying hair at the temples, immaculately dressed in a European-cut suit and a yellow ascot. He was pointing out historical details about the artists with a flourish of hand gestures. This all in Italian, of course. And without a textbook.

Behind me were people of all ages, jostling for position, photographing Van Gogh’s Starry Night on their iPads. They spoke Russian.

Even the guards, in their blue uniforms, whose job was to make sure visitors kept a respectable distance from the masterpieces, looked foreign-born.

So where were the Americans?

In the Architecture and Design exhibit? No.

Viewing the current exhibit? No.

In the contemporary galleries? No.

When I rounded the corner by the Painting and Sculpture Galleries, that’s where I spotted them.

In line waiting to get into the restaurant.

Does that count as a museum visit?

Calvin says, “Only if you snap a few pics on the way to the bathroom.” 

The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

The Olympics Are Over. Now What?

The Olympics are over. I’m going to miss them.

It was something to look forward to every night. Especially the weekends when television programs are notoriously bad.

Television producers should take note of the Olympic events: they had drama, tension, suspense, tears, and happiness, all under fifteen minutes. The gamut of human emotions was on display for the world to see and react to. There were successes and failures. Highs and lows. Every event had its moment. And as a spectator, you lived through them with the athletes.

London did a smashing job as host. Granted it cost them $14.5 billion to pull it off.

I always ask where does a host country get that kind of money when they can’t seem to do a very good job of taking care of their domestic affairs?

And here I thought Europe was in a financial crisis with the euro. Apparently not in London.

Did Queen Elizabeth use some of her stashed cash under her mattress at Balmoral Castle?

Did Prince Phillip sell a few gold bricks?

Maybe the newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sold some of their wedding loot.

The question of where the money came from eludes me completely.

But the bigger question that stumps me is this: what is London going to do now with the new stadiums, race courses, and buildings that were build specifically for the Olympics? Who pays for their upkeep?

Calvin says, “I spotted the Queen in her bloomers warming up for a game of beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade.”

Making Ice Cubes is Passe

Alf and I went to the home improvement store today searching for ice cube trays. You know, to make ice cubes in. The kind you bend and shake in order for the ice cubes to break loose so you can cool your drink.

We walked in, headed for the refrigerator section, and checked the shelves. They weren’t there.

We looked in the housewares area. None there either.

Our third attempt was in the pool section. Crazy, but hey, we were growing desperate.

No luck.

So we asked a sales clerk.

“Nope, we don’t sell them.”

So Alf and I bought a new toilet instead.

It may not make ice cubes, but at least they haven’t discontinued those.

Calvin says, “You forgot to look in the garden section. You’ll find them filled with dirt with little green things growing out of them.”

A Soul For Sale

A dialogue between two women in a restaurant. The tables were so close I couldn’t help eavesdrop.

“Someone’s selling her soul on eBay.”

“Does she have a good rating?”

“Yea, people are bidding.”

“What format is it in?”

“She just got out of a coma.”

“Is that with free shipping?”

“She’s crying for help.”

“Does eBay allow therapy?”

“All those gurus. There would be a bidding war.”

“Can you reach her by email?”

“I think so.”

“Write this poor soul before the bidding closes.”

Calvin says, “Hey, that’s an idea. Instead of donating my nose to science when I die, I’ll sell it on eBay. The bidding wars would skyrocket.”

How To Make Spaghetti Sauce With Your Dog

Alf and I went to the organic food market to find sun dried tomatoes without preservatives. We found them high on the last shelf. You needed to be a giraffe to spot them. Imported from Italy, of course. Why can’t Americans do this? Meanwhile, there were plenty of other brands on lower shelves within easy reach. Those were floating in olive oil and chemicals.

“That reminds me of a story when I was a child,” the clerk at the check-out said as he bagged our purchase. “Our Pekinese had a fascination with the tomatoes my mother grew in the back yard. Every summer one by one he’d pluck off a ripe tomato and deposit it in the back yard. He did this until all the tomatoes were off the vines. My mother found them shriveled up in the sun, and that’s how we made our own sun dried tomatoes.”

“Hey, you know, that’s not a bad idea,” Alf said when we climbed into the car. “Can we train Calvin to do that?”

“It’s got to be his idea.”

“We could make it his idea,” Alf said as we pulled out of the parking space.

“How do we do that?”

“We spray the tomato plants with some irresistible odor that will drive him wild and he’ll attack the tomatoes.”

“Calvin doesn’t have a dainty mouth like a Peek. He’d snatch and smash,” I said.

“I could train him to have a gentle bite,” Alf said.

“His jaws would crush everything. You’d have spaghetti sauce instead.”

“Hmm. We do have basil and oregano growing…”

Calvin says, “I heard that. I’m not Italian. There’s no flipping way you’re going to teach me that trick.”