Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes the little things break you down.

I recently had a terrible day. I woke up on my day off with a mind-erasing migraine that I had hoped was a simple consequence from the previous evenings drinking adventure. It wasn't as simple as I had thought and I had to call in the big guns for pain relief. There were a few side-effects to the powerful prescription painkillers as in most instances of drug consumption. Euphoria being one of these side-effects I embraced a groggy afternoon alone at the house pondering many wonderful thoughts I wouldn't typically have if it weren't for the "help."

As mentioned, I live alone. I have embraced the single life for around three to four years now, and have all the typical living situations one might expect from a modern 20-something bachelor. AXE products in the bathroom, copies of Playboys in "high traffic" areas, a fridge stocked with beer, condiments, leftover boxes I never had the intention of opening ever again, and a sink full of wet unclean dishes.  I recently was blessed by the welcoming of a thoughtful and amazing young lady into my life, but her job requires a large amount of travel. So, her feminine direction of cleanliness and order hasn't gripped my humble abode. 

I'm completely use to eating out on my own or with friends on a constant basis. I keep several jobs in the service industry during dinner hours, and those jobs provide a very easily accessible form of sustenance by way of snacking. It's the time off I have trouble with. I hardly ever grocery shop. I wait till I begin running out of more than one thing before I consider making a trip to Wal-Mart. Laundry detergent and batteries have to be accompanied by a huge withdrawal of ketchup and a need for odor-fighting deodorant before I muster the energy of having to deal with gigantic aisles and the most unfavorable customer base any company has ever known. Once I make it into the walls of wally I occasionally spend time picking out skillet or microwave-ready meals. I hardly ever think long-term in situations that involve food purchasing. I don't eat at home a lot, and wind up throwing entire loaves of bread or bad meat away. Very rarely do I buy something that lasts the standard 2-3 week "grace" period of consumption in my home. 

This fine evening hadn't fallen close to any of those Wally World trips, so my options in the home were limited. I was tired of standard fast food and decided to use the Internet to point me in the right direction. The main goal of my evening meal was fairly easy. Quick food, well prepared, and hopefully delivery. I had already take  the delivery route for lunch via the Dominos heat wave and couldn't stand the thought of cramming another over processed pie down my gullet. Living in a somewhat small area limits my options when it comes to delivery, so usually Chinese is my only other option beyond the pizza predicament. Tonight I vowed I wouldn't settle for the belly-emptying temporary fulfillment of that Asian staple! I opted to search for Thai food. Fingers crossed for a delivery option.  I am a fan of Thai food due to the amazing curry that flows out of a local food stand downtown near where I work. Though, they close around 3PM everyday, and they don't deliver. I was shown a map of a few Thai influenced eateries that were located a good thirty minutes away and would more than likely require a large minimum order if they even considered delivery in my area. However, I randomly found a gem in my general area that was advertised as a "buffet" and had no listed delivery option. After a quick phonecall that revealed a takeout option I decided to take my half drowsy medicated behind ten minutes up the road and place an order. 

"How hot you want it? Scale one to ten." The nice (I assume) Thai woman asked me while I placed my order. Considering part of my want for Thai food is it's epervesant qualities that might loosen up my sinuses I ordered it at a level eight! I blamed the onset of my migraine on my allergies acting up and the congestion that was making my head feel a bit overwhelmed with pressure. She hardly gave me a look and simply confirmed my tounge-killing decision and disappeared into the kitchen.

I was in and out in under fifteen minutes, Disheveled bed hair and all! The red curry was massive! A 32 ounce styrofoam cup filled to the brim was accompanied by a meager 12 ounce cup of rice and a few spring rolls. My stomach was cowering in fright at how hungry my eyes were. It was all going down the hatch, weather Mr. Tummy liked it or not. 

Mr. Tummy seemed to be okay with the decision, but Mr. Tongue was not exactly enthusiastic with my high-heat suggestion. This is where the lack of my grocery shopping endeavors put me in a curious position. I have nothing to drink other than water, mustard, salad dressings, what is almost certainly yogurt in a milk jug, and beer. Water is the safest bet because I want to avoid the whole drinking situation while taking mind-fuzzying drugs. I don't crave water to extinguish the 5 alarm fire that is assaulting my mouth at this point. I want flavor, not just a cleansing cool sink-tap experience. Alas, another gem reveals itself for the evening! A few tiny packets of childhood bliss are wedged behind some expired Boy Scout microwave popcorn. Kool-Aid, with Two flavors to choose from! Being that I hardly use up any food product that enters my home I also have a respectable amount of sugar to mix into this ambrosia . Kool Aid isn't exactly a perfect wine pairing to a red curry dinner, but cherry success ensued, and all tongue fires were obliterated with optimum flavor.

Not wanting to rely souly on ice cubes to continue to keep my KoolAid at it's peak frostiness, I stuck the pitcher of red bliss into the freezer and continued my meal. A few hours after my meal had ended and I had taken in the standard American couch-surfing quota of television for the evening I had the urge to call it a night. I couldn't simply leave the KoolAid in the freezer to become one giant red brick only for it to thaw in the refrigerator the next day and taste all "icky." A location transplant was needed, and I commenced accordingly.

When I removed the pitcher of paradise from the freezer it had already began the solidification process and gave me the grand pleasure of a slushy-like consistency. I didn't hesitate to grab the mixing spoon I had used hours previously to skim off a layer of slush from the top and began sipping it into my mouth. Yes, the spoon was still in my sink. Unwashed. Not in the dishwasher.

I remembered this taste, this feeling, this joy of slightly melted KoolAid ice and I began to tear up a little. The moment flashed me back to my childhood when I would spend time at my Grandparents house in Omaha. My grandma use to let me drink out of this huge beaten metal cooking spoon that was reminiscent of drinking well spoons. She had a rope swing out back and my grandpa use to keep a small garden that would yield delicious rhubarb that was automatically shoved into a pie crust as soon as it was harvested. Though, the one memory I held closest to my heart was the tiny "do it yourself" popsicles my grandma would help us kids make. It's rather simple, and I'm sure we've all done it at some point or another. Mix up KoolAid, dump it into an icecube tray, cover in cooking film, and stick toothpicks into every slot through the film so that after awhile camping in the freezer you have tiny flavored cubes on a stick. It definitely saved a few dollars from being scooped up by the ice-creme truck. 

I held that memory very dear. The excitement of helping mix up a fresh batch of sugarwater, the anticipation of waiting while science alters the physical properties of liquid, and the final payoff of trying to scarf down flavor cubes before they became a puddle on the front steps during a hot summer day. Chowing down on icey sludge in my kitchen reminded me of how much I missed my grandparents and how lucky my childhood actually was. As I've grown older I've taken the elderly for granted and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe they don't drive as fast as we all think we should go, but they also made you take the time to let the cubes freeze all the way.

So thank you grandma, grandpa, and the other members of the greatest generation that I will never know. I look forward to giving my children and hopefully grandchildren memories that will carry smiles on their faces for the rest of their lives.

So, from a migraine in the morning to sincere tear-jerking reflection at bedtime, I realized that sometimes it's the smallest moments in life that will completely break you down and let in all sorts of memories and emotions.

Rough Draft
October 6th, 2010
Composed on iPhone.
My thumbs hurt.