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I should just SHUT - UP. I’m at the grocery store today, looking at a big display of 2 for 1 soft tortillas. It’s my brand, inasmuch as I have one.

“That’s a really good deal,” says a familiar voice; I look up, and it’s a guy from work. Hey, how are you, what’s going on. We get to talking about this 2 for 1 thing, how this store not only has 2 for 1, but that misleading “2 / $6.00” thing, which really means one for $3.00. This prompts a minor peroration on my new peeve, BOGO; when I went to Lunds Friday night to get a frozen pizza all the pizzas were BOGO, and again I raged in silence: all standard commercial transactions are BOGO. You mean BOGOF.

I noted that my friend had some peanuts in his cart, and I noted how that was my preferred brand. “But they’re usually between $3.79 and $4.19, which is too high. Menards sold them for $2.50.”

He laughed: “Menards. My preferred store for groceries.” (It’s a hardware store.)

“Yeah, laugh all you want, it was a loss leader. And now they closed the store to build a new one and I’m out cheap peanuts.”

“They’re two for five dollars today,” he said, adding that his wife had sent him to get peanuts for something.

Whoa whoa hold on.

“Are those Golden Roast?” He didn’t seem to grasp the enormity. “Fisher took the Golden Roast name off the containers, but I think all their peanuts are still Golden Roast unless they’re Honey Roast. Check the ingredients. Look for onions, garlic, spices.”

He looked at the ingredients. “There’s spices.”

“Okay, well, if your wife sent you for peanuts, was it for a recipe?” If I recall the conversation correctly he said it was something like that, and I thought: I have saved you from disaster. If she sent you for peanuts and you come back with fancy flavored peanuts there could be trouble. We went back to the peanut aisle. “Your Food Club or your unsalted won’t have any flavors,” I said, thereby revealing I was a man who was intimately acquainted with such things. As I am: I know this store inside and out, like all my grocery stores. “If you’re not sure,” I said, “call her. Ask what she’s using them for.”

That’s where I left him, getting out his phone. Monday I’ll probably learn his wife just wanted some fargin’ peanuts. But if that wasn’t the case, I saved him.

You can’t use Golden Roast in a recipe unless you know what you’re doing.

Swung through the ice cream department: my favorite brand was 2 for $6.00. It’s usually $5.99 for one. So that’s three bucks.

Bought two.

I think I was a quartermaster in a previous life. I love provisioning.

Sunday was daughter’s first communion. At the same little side chapel where she was baptized. The font is still there. Nothing changes. Except: I saw one of the pastors come through a Secret Door in the wall.

I’d never known it was there. You can’t see it. You’re not supposed to see it. When I looked into the main church I saw another pastor go behind another Secret Door I’d never noticed, and you couldn’t help but imagine a network of private tunnels threading through the building, leading to Secret Places. There were two such doors in the church where I went as a kid. One admitted the choir to the loft; the other was by the organ, and was the portal through which the pastor passed, as well as the acolytes. I was an acolyte.

My job was to light the candles. Went out in a robe carrying a long wooden stick that had a wick; a sliding mechanism lengthened or shortened the wick. You lit the candles in a particular order with as much solemnity as you could muster. Of course, one guy could have come out with a Bic and done the job, but there was ritual involved: the flame was taken from the Eternal Flame on the wall, which had been burning for decades, as far as anyone knew.

All these things were important.

I do remember first Communion, which introduced you to the mysteries of the wafer - specifically, the mystery how anything that tasted like this could possibly be called bread. It’s like a poker chip made out of rice, or a slice of styrofoam. The wine should put kids off wine forever as well; it’s sickly sweet with a strange aftertaste. Nothing has changed. Daughter and her friend made faces: yikes.

When it was done I looked up to catch the pastor’s eyes; we BS from time to time about this and that, but he was gone.

Vanished through the secret door.

We walked out through the courtyard where the pre-school kids played, and I looked up at the window where I stood watching her a million years ago. Paused to pose: picture time. Home for ham sandwiches and relatives! No. If this was actual Confirmation, perhaps; that’s how I recall the day. (That comes later.) All the relates come over to have ham sandwiches and coffee and cake, and pass me an envelope with a tenner. The men went downstairs to smoke and the ladies stayed upstairs to talk, and I wandered around accepting congrats, waiting for the appropriate moment when I could melt away and go back to my room and read a comic book.

Instead we went to Broder’s, a local Italian joint that always feels like a New York neighborhood place - crammed, small, gloriously odorous. Had a slice. A women in the adjacent table leaned over and said - appropos of absolutely nothing - that she was here because she’d seen the place on the Food Channel’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show, and she’d come all the way from Anoka. Every time she saw a local restaurant on the Food Channel she dragged her sons down from the burbs to eat.

“It’s not a diner, a drive-in, or a dive,” I said. We all looked around the room, and silently concurred: Dive, if you must.

My wife told her about a cupcake place that was also on Cupcake Wars.

“Cupcake?” I said.

Wife nods.

“No, is that the name?”

“No - why?”

“There’s a place called Cupcake that won Cupcake Wars.”

She looked at me: and this you know how?

“They provided cupcakes for the intermission at Orchestra Hall last week,” I said. “I had to give them a pitch.”

“And it’s called Cupcake.”

“Well, yes. No doubt what they sell. So there’s two cupcake places that were on Cupcake Wars?”

The woman from Anoka is wondering whether my wife’s right and I’m just Dad McDolt, thinking that CUPCAKE is the name when obviously CUPCAKE is the product, the rationale, the animating spirit. I get out my phone to settle the issue, because this is the modern world. You can pick up your thin pocket genie and say “Find me cupcakes” and it tracks down the nearest place.

But somehow this didn’t seem necessary. We did, however, have a yen for cupcakes now. While my wife went next door to the running store (this is why I live in the city, BTW: this corner, which is unremarkable, has this great little Italian joint, a runner’s store, a dentist, a gallery across the street, an old gas station converted into a pasta bar, a used book store, a French restaurant, a consignment store, a bagel shop, a frame store, an aquarium store, a pizza restaurant and - ready? - a scuba supply shop) my daughter and I looked at all the merchandise for sale, the pastas and olive spreads and chocolates. When it became apparent Mom was really seriously looking at running shoes, we went back to the car to fight over the radio. Went through the narrow hall to the back. Past the framed pictures of BEST OF magazine covers.

“I know that guy,” I said, pointing to one cover. “That’s Rich Kronfeld. I did a TV show with him a million years ago. Had lunch with him last year.”

“You know everyone,” she said, sarcastically. Then she caught herself being a proto-teen and said "no really I mean that. It just came out sarcastic."

I gave her the advice I keep repeating these days: "Be careful of speaking in memes."

So we drove to the cupcake place.


After I dropped them off I went to get a ramp for the stairs for Jasper. Also a pee-pad for the hamster. It’s come to this: I am sent on a Sunday errand to buy a piece of absorbent fabric on which the resident rodent can excrete his waste fluids. Jasper needs a ramp to get down the back stairs, and I finally found one. Not cheap. But. I’m not the one who has to have his weary old joints shocked. The problem is getting him to use it.

It’s a new trick.

He’s an old dog.

There seems to be some folk wisdom about this.

I’ll keep you posted.

That was Sunday. It rained, too. The world just drank it down.


So that was my weekend, more or less, except for some scathing notes on some crap I watched, but that's tomorrow.. Enjoy a matchbook update! See you around.



















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