I posted this back in 2005:
This year I am thankful for…
…the fact that this nutso season will eventually end.
So last night after work I decided to go shopping for just plain everyday groceries. While there, I decided to pick up a few things I’d need for Turkey dinner, so as to spread the misery out over a few days instead of concentrating it all into one day. I decided to initially address the problems of pies and sauces. So I hunt for cranberries first. Produce aisle? Nope. Frozen food section? Naw. Seafood? Hey, you never know. But no.
But seeing as I was already near the baking aisle, I decided to hunt for the elusive and cunning mince meat filling. Aha! I’d found the pie fillings. Let’s see–pumpkin, coconut cream, apple, lemon. No mincemeat. Banana, orange, lotus blossum, motor oil. Still no mincemeat. Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, snozberry, huckleberry, tomsawyerberry, prune. Prune? Yep. Prune. A far cry from mincemeat. But yeah, prune.
So I decided that the aisle had beaten me, and that I’d go crawling to customer service for help. After waiting in line for the cigarettes-for-paychecks crowd to clear, I finally approached the almighty service wench. I triumphantly bellowed my noble request: “Mincemeat pie filling?” She looked at me as if I had made my request in Venutian. I decided to switch to English and annunciate my request more clearly. “Mince. Meat. Pie. Fill. Ing?” The unoiled cogs in what passed for her brain slowly began to turn, albeit slowly and with great grinding sounds. “Miss me pie fielding?”, she chawed like the bovine she was. “Mince meat”, I replied. “Oh, OK”, the answer finally dawned on her. “Bakery.” At last, an answer I could use! I spun on my heels and set a course for the, uh…
Bakery? Wow. It became clear that this was to become a quest of epic proportions. I felt like one of King Arthur’s knights, set out on a holy quest for suety goodness.
I turned back to face the customer service dragon. Raising my shield and drawing my sword, I spoke a magic incantation to the fell wyrm: “Miiiiiiiince meeeeeeaaaaat piiiiiiiiieeeeeee fiiiiiiilllllliiiiinnnnnggg.” The beast parried with a Phone of Slaying, and spoke these foul and devish words: “Ramon to customer service. Ramon to customer service. Ramon will know what you’re talking about. Ramon knows all.”
A strange hush fell over the store. I was about to be visited by Ramon. Apparently this was a singular honor. Mere mortal customers rarely had the good fortune to elicit a visit from the Great Ramon. The very rocks whispered that Ramon could find anything. If they had it, he knew where it was. I’m betting he could even locate prune pie filling, by gum. Angels sang. The heavens opened and beams of Holy Light shone down upon me. The Almighty Ramon had at last arrived.
I have to say I was a little disappointed. Ramon was maybe five foot nothing, weighed maybe 90 pounds soaking wet, and was a little–well, weird looking, ya know? I swear his teeth were made out of masking tape.
“Mincemeat pie filling?”
That’s what I asked. Or thought I did. Ramon’s masking tape teeth curled in a quizzical expression. Oops! Silly me, from his expression I had accidentally asked for the recipe for plutonium. I decided to rephrase: “Mincemeat pie filling?” The great Ramon deemed to bestow on me the wisdom of the ages. In his deep, reverent, and yet somehow whiney voice he intoned the following magical phrase: “Miiiinz meeeeen pyyyyye fleeeeeem.”
Things were not going well.
Utterly defeated and humiliated, Ramon surrendered and called over the store manager. “This man is looking for miiiinnnzz… uh, this man needs help.”
I once again made my request, this time to the store manager. His answer was “Ah, of course, right this way. Wow! I know something Ramon doesn’t know!” He was positively beaming. He led me back to an aisle I’d seen before, and proudly pointed to–you guessed it–prune pie filling.
“Uh, sir?” I asked. “I tried that once already. It didn’t work that time, either.” I could tell he was exerting all of his psionic powers to get the prunes to transubstantiate into mince meat. Let’s just say it wasn’t working out spectacularly.
So he called for Ramon and asked him to bring forth the Holy Tome of Jarred Goods. While we waited, I asked the manager where I might find the cranberries. Yes, I like to live on the edge. “What kind?” asked the manager. “Fresh. Or frozen. Doesn’t matter.”
Apparently I had stumbled across the magic phrase, the mystical glyph of evokation. The manager lit up like a firefly and said “AHA!”, or “Eureka!”, or “Pass the ketchup, my back itches!” I really don’t remember, because I was distracted by my quarry. Following the manager’s pointed finger, I saw, there through the cobwebs, guarded by Shelob the Giant Spider, on the bottom shelf, two dusty jars of miiiinz meeeeen pyyyyye fleeeeeem. At long last! My lovelies, I have found you! I swear it was only three feet to them, but my running for them may have resembled my running across a field towards a lover, my arms outstretched, in slow motion, with sappy Burt Bacharach music playing.
As we headed for the cranberries, I decided to check the expiration date on the jar. It may well have gone bad in 1942, after all. But good news. The expiration date read “OCT/14/2007 11:26.” Now, I don’t know if that’s AM or PM, but I’m willing to take my chances.
At long last we reached the cranberries. Or so I thought. We were in the snack food aisle. He pointed out the Craisins. You know, raisins made from cranberries. For a moment I mulled over the possibility of reconstituting them in water so I could make a sauce. But no. Bolstered by my recent coup over the pie situation, I decided to press on. “Fresh?” I asked. The manager apologized and led me back to the produce aisle, from whence my quest had originated. And there they were. Cranberries. Bags of them. Cleverly hidden behind the mince meat pie filling display.