Saturday, June 18, 2011

Confessions of a Defiant Mule

It started off as an annual trip to Georgia. The plan was to spend a week with my sister and my Dad. I had already enjoyed baseball game at Turner Field. Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Dan Uggla tried their noblest since Jason Heyward was on 15 day disability. Alas, they lost to the Cincinnati Reds that night. That’s OK. A bad game at Turner Field is still better than a good day at my cubicle. I even helped my brother in law renovate my Dad’s room. Between pulling up carpet and making multiple trips to the neighborhood pool, I had a lot of quality time with my brother in law that I truly enjoyed. It was a great week of diversion and respite.

Unfortunately, such trips often cause some very old addictions to resurface. I had hoped that I would be able to keep most of these addictions under control. Yet, there I was taking 48 individual wrapped 1 ounce packages and dividing them between two large zippered plastic bags so that I could take them back to New York in my luggage. I was doing fine until one of the individual packages ripped. The precious, grainy, substance spilled onto the floor. I had travelled far for this stuff. Nonetheless, I decided to take the single ounce loss and vacuumed it up. I sat there pondering on what just happened. I asked myself: “Self, how did I get to this point.”

I suppose it all started back in 1988 when I first relocated to Western New York. It was a bit of a cultural adjustment at first but I was handling it well. At least, I thought I was handling it well. I was browsing through a local grocery store and missing my home state. I figured I could fix myself a simple meal to remind myself of home and lift my mood. I went down the breakfast aisle and viewed the different items: cereal, oatmeal, farina (YUCK!). I then thought I was getting closer to what I wanted. I found a nice cylindrical canister of grits. I then looked at the boxes of instant grits and nearly wept. They had butter flavor and original and THAT’S ALL. There was no bacon bits flavor. There was no country ham flavor. To add further insult to injury, there was NOT ONE SINGLE, SOLITARY CHEESE FLAVOR. I approached the store manager about this. As soon at he heard me say grits, I had clearly lost him. I drove to store after store after store all with the same results: original and butter flavor and THAT’S ALL. I then came to the conclusion that President Grant MUST have written some law during the Reconstruction period that made such varieties of instant grits illegal north of the Mason-Dixon line.

I tried to find a way to right this grievous wrong (at least in my own home). It started with me calling my Momma and asking her to send some in a plain brown package from Georgia. I often made these requests from a payphone in case my conversations were being tapped by the FBI (Farina for Breakfast Investigators). It ultimately escalated to the point where I was even making long distance trades with friends and family members. My wife even made a deal with a sister of hers in Florida. Her sister would send instant grits from Florida for a variety of pasta that is apparently illegal there (Curse you, Ulysses Simpson Grant). I almost feel ashamed for bringing my wife into my addictions. I say almost because my wife loves grits as much as I do (bless her beautiful heart).

I now had the incident of the aforementioned package ripping behind me. I had made it through the security checkpoint in Atlanta and was now back in Rochester. I felt sort of like Johnny Depp in the movie “Blow”. I picked up my suitcase from the carousel and tried to think of something. I tried to think of my kids’ birthdays or something festive like that. I actually transcended myself to that place if you will. I tried to think about anything except what could happen to me if I get caught with the 47 ounces of instant ground hominy in my suitcase. I began to walk out of the airport. I was stopped by a government official with a badge. He was a Farina for Breakfast Investigator. I was surrounded by four other investigators. They had caught me dead to rights. I was busted. I looked at the investigator and asked “Parlay?”. The eyes of the investigators were wide with frustration. “We have to let him go” said the lead investigator. Another protested: “But he’s referencing the WRONG MOVIE!”. I walked away with my victory, my suitcase, and my grits. I thumbed my nose at the Anti-Grits government conspiracy. And I must confess, if it means I get to exercise my God given right to more variety of instant grits in my Western New York home, I’LL DO IT AGAIN!!

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