Every once in awhile, Karma smiles down upon you and grants you the opportunity of a lifetime. In my case, her gift was two tickets for a taping of The Daily Show in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention. Now, some of you may be snickering or rolling your eyes because you’re complete and utter morons I think watching Jon Stewart doing his gig in person can only be surpassed by an event that involves me sipping Moët from the Holy Grail while David Sedaris reads aloud to me and Johnny Depp massages my feet. Sure, I realize his show shoots five days a week for most of the year up in Hell’s Kitchen, so you’re probably thinking that filming The Daily Show isn’t exactly rare like, say, a sober Amanda Bynes or a pale Donatella Versace.
But you would be wrong.
Shooting Comedy Central’s top–rated show in Tampa is extraordinarily unusual. And after Stewart and his team openly lambasted the city in which I reside with embarrassingly accurate observations about the heat and humidity (describing Tampa as the ideal environment for “a struggling strand of streptococcus”), the casual attire of the indigenous population (“the city where flip flops are considered evening wear”), and our fondness of clothing-optional gentlemen’s clubs (“Jon, I’m here in Tampa’s famous strip club district or as they call it here – Tampa.”), it’s unlikely that the program will ever be filmed in the Peninsula of Death again – unless a palmetto bug decides to run for President in 2016.
Remember when bath salts made your skin soft and smell faintly of something like lavender? Remember when the worst thing that could come as a result of using bath salts was a UTI? Remember when bath salts were merely part of one of those crappy, bath product gift baskets you bought your great Aunt Edna for Christmas because they were cheap, but looked expensive, plus you could pick them up at any pharmacy you passed on your way to visit her at the old folk’s home. And, let’s face it, Aunt Edna smelled like urine mothballs – on a good day. Well, those days are gone, folks.
For years, experts have predicted that the zombie apocalypse would be brought about by a virus – one so powerful that it would render homo sapiens helpless to control their most savage impulses. Adrenaline rushing through their veins, the infected were predicted to exhibit an unusual level of endurance, lumbering at a slow, but terrifying and consistent, pace. As with all flus and viruses, young children and the elderly were expected to become the first casualties…mostly because they weren’t fast enough to outrun the newly-created zombies who would be thirsting for their blood. And just never tired.
But the virus never manifested itself. The zombie watchers got their panties all in a bunch when the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 petered out in mid-2010 – and no one went crazy and dined on their neighbors; they just died of respiratory failure. The books predicting the zombie apocalypse came and went out of vogue. Yeah, we all thought Pride, Prejudice and Zombies was a really clever idea. At least until it was followed by the release of another 8,000 dystopian novels about badass classic book characters/U.S. presidents/unusually attractive teens surviving a fictional zombie apocalypse. Sure, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a big hit and World War Z is coming out next year, but let’s face it, zombies are quickly becoming passé. Like Paris Hilton and Robert Pattison, they are suffering from overexposure. Even my zombie-loving Hubby banned the undead from this year’s Christmas and Birthday Wish Lists after he received a zombie video game, several zombie-themed books, The Walking Dead board game, multiple zombie t-shirts, undead underwear and a birthday cake decorated with – you guessed it – glow-in-the-dark zombie figurines for the holidays last year.
Overall, the future of the zombie apocalypse didn’t look good. Zombies were destined to fall by the wayside just like vampires, werewolves and pathetically pale, whiny heroines from Washington. Until this week.
Last Saturday, a stark naked, 31 year old Miami man, Rudy Eugene, brutally attacked an elderly homeless man in broad daylight and chewed off his face. When police attempted to approach the real-life Hannibal Lecter, he growled at them and resumed, erm, eating the transient, Ronald Poppo. Even after being shot once by police, Eugene continued his meal. In the end, the officer was forced to fire multiple shots, killing the nude man and finally ending his gruesome feast. Armando Aguilar of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told NBC that close to 80% of the victim’s visage was missing and confirmed that Eugene was “actually swallowing pieces of the man’s face.” Poppo remains in critical condition and doctors anticipate that his recovery will be a lengthy process.
A week prior, Dr. Zachary Bird, a Central Florida anesthesiologist was arrested on various charges including suspected DUI and battery on a police officer after the physician nearly sideswiped a state trooper’s vehicle, then failed a field sobriety test. Glassy-eyed and smelling of alcohol, Bird allegedly had at least $54,000 in cash on his person or in his car, two handguns, a vial of an unidentified liquid and prescription medications. But this is where the story starts to get crazy. After being cuffed and placed in the back of the squad car, the doctor went on a rampage, slamming his head repeatedly against the polycarbonate partition in the back of the car, causing his forehead to bleed profusely, screaming at the top of his lungs – over and over – for the officers to “stop stealing my money,” kicked the car door, and then, finally spit blood into the officers’ faces.
The following day, a New Jersey man reportedly stabbed himself in the abdomen, neck and legs with a knife while police watched. As Wayne Carter proceeded to disembowel himself, officers pepper-sprayed him – with no effect whatsoever. In fact, Carter responded in grisly fashion by throwing his intestines and bits of flesh at the police officers. It finally took a SWAT team to subdue the man, who is hospitalized in critical condition.
So besides each of these heinous acts involving people who were clearly batshit crazy, what do they all have in common? Perseverance. Endurance beyond that of a triathlon winner. An inability to feel or be hindered by pain. Like a zombie, perhaps? But what caused their zombification?
Police have revealed that the Miami “Causeway Cannibal,” as the press has dubbed Rudy Eugene, allegedly favored a particular drug: bath salts. No, not the kind you gave Aunt Edna. You don’t have to worry that she’s going to chew your ear off the next time you see her – at least not literally. No, these bath salts, labeled with benign names like Lady Bubbles and Ivory Wave, are a fairly new, toxic drug that is available on the streets, but often sold in tobacco stores and head shops.
A dangerous cocktail of MDPV, mephedrone and pyrovalerone, the DEA views bath salts as a similar to mescaline or ephedrine, while dealers claim that the drug can cause users to experience LSD-like hallucinations…for example, a homeless man’s face suddenly looks and tastes like a Thanksgiving turkey. According to a Huffington Post article, the drug “can cause severe agitation, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, paranoia and symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions.” In addition, the drug user’s body overheats – making their blood boil, both literally and metaphorically, so it’s not uncommon for him or her to strip completely naked.
Whether or not Eugene exhibited super human strength during his gory rampage is still unknown, but he did manage to beat and partially strip the Ronald Poppo before he began tearing the flesh from his face, eventually leaving only the man’s goatee intact. Hey, I don’t like hair in my food, either. However, Poppo did have a history of drug use and alcoholism; perhaps he was intoxicated and, therefore, was an easy target. Regardless of whether or not the transient man put up a fight, it’s undeniable that the first shot police fired at Eugene struck him…and didn’t do a damn thing. The Causeway Cannibal wasn’t relinquishing his face tartare for anyone.
Likewise, Dr. Bird was allegedly intoxicated at the time of his brutal head-banging, blood-spitting tantrum, but on what? I’ve seen booze make people crazy, but this man was still wearing scrubs when he nearly sideswiped that squad car. Did he stop at a bar – after visiting his bank and the hospital pharmacy – and down two dozen shots of tequila before hopping into his BMW – all because he was allegedly on his way to help his friend, Fred, who’d been “fucking with the wrong people?” What was he going to help Fred do? I suspect he wasn’t going to pay off Fred’s mortgage or lend him money for the plastic surgery he’d been wanting. After all, Bird founded a plastic surgery clinic in the small Florida town of Weston. Fred could have had calf implants, a nose job and his eyes done for cost. Considering the weapons, cash, assorted pills and mysterious vial of liquid in the Doc’s possession at the time, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that alcohol probably wasn’t the only intoxicant in his system.
After all, the graphic video of Bird in the back of the police car shows him slamming his head hard against the partition six times in a row, opening up a large gash on his forehead. The physician then proceeded to smear his blood all over the partition (ick!) before demanding to be taken to the hospital, then chanting at the top of his lungs – ad nauseum – that the officers better stop stealing his money, sounding like an infuriated, overgrown toddler on a raging chocolate high. He wasn’t dazed. He appeared to feel no pain. He seemingly didn’t tire. Hell, I whacked my head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet yesterday, and I was whining like baby and cradling an icepack against my head for the next ten minutes. If I’d managed to bang my skull a couple more times in a row, I’d have been out cold.
The Deranged Disembowler, Wayne Carter managed to remove his own entrails and stab himself over 50 times, yet police couldn’t subdue him with pepper spray. In case you didn’t know, pepper spray is also used to deter grizzlybears from attacking! When the SWAT team has to be called in to restrain a man who reacts to pepper spray in the same way a model reacts to a spritz of Evian on her face, and who has severed an artery and whose guts are on the wrong side of his belly button…hello, he’s on something! Couple Carter’s unexplainable endurance with a history of mental illness and – surprise, surprise – drug use, and it’s suddenly not so inconceivable that a human being could tolerate that much pain and blood loss, yet still be able to lob his intestines across the room.
Thus, it appears that the zombie apocalypse is ON! The terrifying hallucinogenic properties of bath salts have been well-documented since 2010. Last year alone, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 1,000 calls concerning the use of this drug and there are dozens of stories of related deaths, but people continue to buy it. Reportedly, it’s inexpensive and users are willing to suffer bouts of extreme paranoia and horrifying visions in exchange for the temporary cocaine-like high. None of these warnings or tales of cannibalism seem to have any effect on sales. In fact, its use is spiraling upwards. Sure, these high-profile incidents will ensure that bath salts are banned at both the state and federal level nationwide, but that didn’t stop crystal meth from rotting the brains and teeth of idiots across the country.
Why? Because, let’s face it – some people are just stupid. When the CDC is forced to release a warning regarding the teen trend called the “Cinnamon Challenge,” in which kids are dared to swallow a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon without drinking any water, we’ve officially entered an age in which some people have become just too stupid to live. Not only do teens actually participate enthusiastically in the “Cinnamon Challenge,” there’s an entire website devoted to documenting their failures and successes. Do we need to post signs in schools that say, “Just Say ‘No!’ to Drinking Bleach” or “Setting Yourself on Fire Burns” or “Don’t Eat All The Nutmeg Because Your Mom Is Making A Pie Later”? Does the First Lady need to abandon the concept of getting kids to exercise more and focus instead on making sure they don’t eat the entire contents of their mother’s spice rack? Sadly, the answer to all these questions seems to be, “Yes!”
One of the latest bizarre news stories involves teens drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. Have you ever tasted Purell? I’d rather eat bar-b-que chicken with bare hands that have been washed in a bucket of poo than risk licking a drop of sauce off fingers that have been recently sanitized in that foul tasting liquid. But teens will slug that crap down in order to buy themselves a brief high, followed by a trip to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. At least getting drunk off of cough syrup, mouthwash or vanilla extract tasted good.
Now that our society has degraded itself to the point where people will go to these kind of lengths to get high, despite the chance that they will turn cannibalistic or rip their small intestines from their body, there’s little chance for a Robert Downey Jr. comeback. The combination of sheer stupidity and the availability of cheap drugs proven to make you batshit crazy is a lethal combination for humanity. And one for which the sane members of our society need to be prepared. So toss the cinnamon, the bath salts (for those with children stupid enough to eat colored, flavored Epsom salts – which will shut down their kidneys, btw), the Purell and the pepper spray, and buy yourself a hockey mask and a taser. Take up cross country or marathon running, and invest in a good pair of trainers because you’re going to have to be able to outrun and outlast these zombie motherfuckers. Consider befriending one of those wackadoos who believes the world’s going to end in December, and buy up all their guns, ammo, food and water for next to nothing when – on December 22nd – they realize that the Mayans just ran out of room on their calendar. Buy an RV. And a tanker filled with gasoline. The zombie horde is coming, my friends.
The undead may be slow, but they’re steady – and I don’t have to tell you who wins that race. Plus, these drug-addled zombies aren’t as unsophisticated as the virus-infected undead of lore. Nope, they have the manual dexterity to undress themselves (which makes horny men and Pentecostal preachers particularly vulnerable) and use weapons. These are the kind of zombies that make fearmongers the world over cream their panties. Glenn Beck? You listening? Zombies could get your fuckwit ass back on television – especially if you blame the homosexuals, Muslims and liberals for promoting a bath salt lovin’ agenda.
UPDATE: International fugitive and Canadian porn actor, Luka Rocco Magnotta, is being sought in connection with the grisly murder and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose body parts were mailed to the offices of Canadian political parties last week. Evidence of Magnotta’s alleged involvement includes a horrifying and graphic video depicting a naked and bound man being stabbed with an ice pick, decapitated, dismembered and sexually assaulted. This shit ain’t funny anymore! http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/02/canada-body-parts-victim-chinese
UPDATE: Zhang Yongming, known in China as the “Cannibal Monster” was arrested two weeks ago in connection with the murder and dismemberment of at least 20 people in the Yunnan province. Yongming allegedly sold the human flesh as meat and also served the remains to his dog. Authorities found human eyeballs in wine bottles and flesh was hanging from Yongming’s ceiling. This is getting weirder and weirder, folks.
UPDATE: A Swedish man has been accused of cutting his wife’s lips off and eating them. Reportedly, the man suspected that his wife was having an affair and ate her lips in order to ensure that they couldn’t be reattached. (Right, dude! You couldn’t just flush her pucker down the toilet?” Though the man’s name has not yet been released, it is reported that he is a former employee of the Karolinska Institutet, a Swedish medical university. Readers, are your doors locked?
This is a humor blog, but it’s important to remember that real people were involved in the events that I described in this post. Please take a moment to say a prayer or send some positive energy to the friends and family mourning Rudy Eugene; to Ronald Poppo and his loved ones; and to Wayne Carter and his family. As far as Dr. Zachary Bird is concerned – as a physician, that douchebag knows better and I hope some big ol’ queen makes him her bitch in prison.
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As with all As Seen On TV! products, I was blown away by the revolutionary new baking craze that is sweeping the nation. Bake Pops. Yes, I know. It’s mind-blowing. Cake on a stick. ON A STICK! Certainly, a nuclear physicist or Nobel winning scientist was behind this invention. What are Bake Pops, you ask? Seriously? You don’t know? Some of us clearly aren’t reading Wired, Newsweek, Time, Popular Science or Woman’s Day. Bake Pops are small round cakes with a stick inserted into them so that they can be dipped in frosting or chocolate and decorated to your liking.
No more eating cake off a plate. Talk about a nuisance. If I had a dime for every time someone turned to me at a party and said, “Cristy, I’d rather have a root canal than eat this slice of carrot cake off a plate with a fork. What a hassle!” To begin with, you’ve got to have napkins, forks, and plates available – and in an economy like ours, that’s just not a given. I can’t tell you how often I’ve simply fallen to my knees and sobbed upon discovering that Wal-Mart was out of plastic forks…again. Have you any idea how embarrassing it is to ask your party guests to eat cake with their fingers? Their nails become sticky with frosting and then they need extra napkins. Like you’ve got plenty of those to go around. It’s not like paper just grows on trees. Suddenly, you’re a friggin’ napkin ATM machine.
As a civilized society, we’re expected to multi-task – particularly at parties. Despite the fact that everyone – our families, our employers, our friends, our Facebook friends, our LinkedIn contacts, our fellow bloggers, our Twitter followers, our co-workers, our former co-workers whom we avoid because they left under less-than-favorable circumstances, and people we pretend to like at Starbucks, but just so they don’t spit in our pumpkin lattes – expect us to be able to do more in less time, we still only have two hands and ten fingers (unless you’re a carpenter, in which case, make that eight or nine fingers).
If there’s one thing there’s never enough of at parties, it’s chairs and tables. This is assuming you attend good parties. Now if the guy at work who picks his nose and keeps his boogers on a piece of notebook paper in his top desk drawer invites you to a party at his mother’s house, there is a chance that they’ll be plenty of places to sit and tables upon which to rest your paper plate. However, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, so the odds are that you’ll be standing around trying to juggle your plate, fork, and napkin in one hand, with your cell phone tucked under one armpit and a glass of punch in the other. And maybe Larry from down the street, slipped a little something into that punch. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. Which means you’ll be tipsy. Or sloshed.
As you know, this is when things spin out of control. Melanie, that fabulous hair stylist you’ve been dying to get an appoint with, is there and is willing to work you into her schedule. Scraping your cake to one side of your plate with your fork, you set your cup of punch next to it. Then, withdrawing your cell from your armpit, you attempt, one-handed, to enter Melanie’s contact information. But you’ve had more than a few sips of Larry’s mysterious brew. Your balance is a little off. The hand holding the plate shakes from the added and poorly-distributed weight of the punch glass, and the pink liquid splashes onto the freshly-mopped, tile floor. Your phone rings in the middle of entering the appointment date and time into your calendar and, as you struggle to answer it without having to re-enter the information, you slip on the spilled punch and fall. Landing on your back, you watch in horror as the plate flies into the air, then plummets towards your head. When it’s all said and done, you’ve got a plastic fork in your eye and your hostess is pissed off because of all the napkins you’ve used to sop up the blood. But thanks to Bake Pops, that will never happen again.
Nor will Granny break her good hip in the inevitable frosting slip ‘n fall accident. Every year, thousands of elderly people slip on icing at their grandkids’ birthday parties. Most will die in the hospital of pneumonia – a common complication. Is serving a cake the size of a coffee table worth Papa Joe lying cold and dead in a grave? Is writing out “Happy Birthday, Amber” on a pink cake with a unicorn theme worth the loss of fourteen more years with Nana Gertrude? I don’t think so. Preserve a future for your children with their rambling, incoherent and crippled elders by purchasing Bake Pops. You can dip them (the Bake Pops, not their elders) in pink chocolate and sprinkle them with silver (inedible) snowflakes for little Amber next year. It’s almost like the real thing. Not quite. But then, how will your children ever experience feeding their grandparents by hand – and wiping the baby food and spittle off their mouths – unless you convert to the new Bake Pops revolution? Would you deprive your parents of their second childhood? I think not.
Of course, every hostess is worried about one of her guests choking to death because, in an attempt to emulate the Man vs. Food host, one loser will try to cram an entire slice of cake into his mouth at once. Nothing’s worse than having to explain to the paramedics, the medical examiner and the dead idiot’s wife that the deceased inadvertently killed himself because he thought he could top the portly Travel Channel television host. “Watch me while I cram this entire cake into my mouth within the next two minutes!” he’d cried triumphantly. For the last time. Don’t let this happen to you. Why spend unnecessary hours being questioned by detectives, comforting the dead moron’s widow, and paying a cleaning crew to clean up the urine and other fluids that tend to ooze out of a body upon death when you can simply buy Bake Pops? It’s impossible for a drunken guest to squeeze an entire slice of cake into his mouth at once because Bake Pops are bite-sized.
In addition to preventing permanent disfigurement and death, this amazing new product will also help you avoid committing many of the dreaded, social faux-paux associated with cake serving and cake eating etiquette. For example, cutting the cake. Who does it? The birthday girl, the hostess, the guy with the Bowie knife in his sock? Do you begin cutting in the corner or, in the event that you’re serving the classic bikini cake, do you start with a nipple for the birthday boy?
How do you determine cake slice size? For example, do you give a translucent slice to the fat girl? What do you do if the fat girl passes her skinny piece to Nicole Ritchie (What? She doesn’t come to all of your parties? That’s ’cause you haven’t been serving Bake Pops!) and asks for the chunky, corner slice you’ve just plated – the one with all the frosting and three blue rosettes? If you were serving Bake Pops, this would never be an issue. Bake Pops are all the same size. Unlike cake slices, Bake Pops can be exactly the same. Not different, but equal. Yes, equal. If you choose, your Bake Pops can all be the same color, with the same sprinkles and the same number of rosettes. Or, if you’re planning a tea party, the vanilla Pops can be richer and taxed at a lower rate than the chocolate Pops…but that’s totally up to you.
A generous company, Bake Pops isn’t only committed to preventing blindness, saving lives and promoting portion-controlled diets, it is sincerely committed to recycling. In light of this fact, here are some other great ways in which you can use Bake Pops’s patented “stick” to bring even more efficiency, safety and enjoyment into your life.
1) Egg Pops: Tired of chopping your hard-boiled eggs using one of those uber-complicated, one step, egg slicers? Why not insert the Bake Pop stick into your egg instead? Save yourself all that sweaty, difficult, single-step slicing and let your teeth do the work for you! That is what your chompers were designed for.
2) Potato Pops: Try grilling these babies along with some New York strip steaks at your next pool party. Dip them in sour cream and chives – and your guests will be talking about them over the water cooler on Monday. Watch out! They can be a little warm in the middle.
3) Brussels Pops: Tell your kids that they’re cabbage-flavored lollipops – and serve them with plenty of butter. Kids love butter. And at their age, cholesterol really isn’t an issue, now is it?
4) Onion Pops: Talk about the perfect pre-date appetizer for your teens. No one’s gonna get pregnant at this Homecoming Dance. And no cooking required! Looking for a twist? Try it with a bulb of fresh garlic. Your eyes will burst into flames just trying to read a Twilight novel.
5) Poop Pops: For us dog lovers, we know nothing satiates our canine’s appetite more than another dog’s feces. Or, if your pooch is into the exotic, try using kitty poo – the litter tastes just like vanilla sprinkles to them! Don’t forget – nothing compliments an ass-kabob like a little au jus dipping sauce. Rover will lap it right up.
6) Soylent Pops: Looking to keep your carbon footprint as small as possible? Why not dine on your like-minded, green counterparts who, instead of dedicating their bodies to science, dedicated them to sustenance? To keep the cycle-of-life turning – and as green as possible – consider nourishing another human with your flesh and celebrate in the knowledge that no paper or plastic products will be used in the serving of your dead, cooked corpse.
7) Salt Pops: Why should a cow enjoy the ease of a salt lick whenever it wants, when you’ve got to concern yourself with seasoning your food or salting the rim of your margarita glass? Why rip open teeny tiny containers of salt or struggle with the hardened white mass stuck inside the restaurant shaker when you can carry your own discreet salt pop everywhere you go? What – you want to do shots? No problem. Lick your Salt Pop, slam that tequila and then suck on a slice of lime. Easily shared, Salt Pops will make you the favorite drunk at the bar.
For more information on Bake Pops, tune in to your favorite television station late at night when advertising is cheap or check out the demo on You Tube: Bake Pops Demo. Your kid’s eye could depend on it.
Okay. I’ve got a huge confession to make. Lately, I’ve been hitting the sauce. Hard. I do it alone, during the day, when my husband’s at work. I do it at night after he’s drifted off to sleep so that he won’t notice the smell. I’ve gone through so many bottles in recent months, I’ve taken to hiding them in the bottom of the garbage can under vegetable cuttings, instead of rinsing them and disposing of them in the recycling bin. I’d be mortified if the neighbors found out.
I’m not a desperate kind of addict. You’ll never catch me dumpster-diving behind a Ruth Chris Steakhouse holding nearly-empty bottles up to my lips, trying to suck out the last few drops. Now, I’m not above filling my shopping cart with the long, slender bottles if the store has a Buy One, Get One Free sale – which doesn’t happen very often – but I’ve got no choice. It’s an expensive habit. The stares I receive from other shoppers is, of course, embarrassing. You can practically hear them thinking, “Leave a bottle or two for the rest of us, would you.” That said, they are standing there, waiting to buy some as I clear the shelf with a broad sweep of my arm, so they’re not exactly innocent. Perhaps they’re more casual users. Maybe they only use it “socially.” That’s how I started. But when you start stocking up during sales, the bottles call to you during the day. Just take a nip. A little bit won’t hurt. No one will know.
As you would expect, my esophagus no longer likes me. The stuff burns on the way down even though I’m careful to hit the sauce very slowly. But sometimes, I just crave it. I can’t control myself. When I imbibe too much, it causes my tongue to crack into angry crevices like a parched desert at midday. I’m not sure if it’s the sodium content or the vinegar, but A-1 Steak Sauce is harsh stuff – straight, anyway. And I’m not talking about a few drops on a piece of steak either. That’s strictly for amateurs. I eat it out of a bowl. Off my finger. Oh, please. Like you never wiped up an awesome bit of sauce with your finger and stuck it in your mouth. It’s not like I don’t wash my hands first. And I don’t have cooties. Anymore.
My relationship with sauce – not just A-1 – is long and enduring. Some would say it’s unhealthy. For the most part, I view food as a “sauce delivery system.” This may sound strange, but it’s not exactly a new concept. Back in 1996, the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the tobacco industry revealed that cigarettes contain chemical additives that promote addiction to nicotine. At the time, Jeffrey Wigand, a whistleblower and former V.P. with Brown & Williamson, indicated that cigarettes were considered by the tobacco industry to be “nicotine delivery systems.” This was a revelation of Sixty Minutes’proportions and Big Tobacco got sued. And they lost.
Tonight at dinner, my friend insisted that burgers are just a “ketchup delivery system.” I was shocked to hear her use a term so familiar to me – and one that I was already writing about. Even more shocking was the fact that my husband chimed in and claimed that cake frosting also has a delivery system. When prodded to reveal the nature of the system (i.e. cake, cupcakes, brownies), he responded, “Frosting.” Ah, so what he really meant is that a spoon is a “frosting delivery system,” since he’d never use his finger because he thinks that’s gross. By the way, I’ve never seen my husband actually eat a can of frosting. If you remember from earlier posts, this is the guy whose favorite shirt reads “I Make Stuff Up.” Then again, perhaps he’s doing it while I sleep. Hmmmm.
Regardless, I know I’m not the only one. Still, for years now, I’ve felt ostracized, hiding my secret from friends and family. Hiding? Really, you ask. Yeah. Picture the scene: several friends have joined us at our home for something meaty I made in the crock pot because that’s where food comes from…at my house anyway. As I gather up the empty plates, the inevitable question is proffered, “Dessert? We’ve got ice cream.” All heads nod and, a few minutes later, I serve bowl after bowl filled with Breyer’s vanilla – the kind with the specks in it. Then I join them with a bowl of A-1 and my finger. The dribbling of caramel and pouring of chocolate sauce stops momentarily as all eyes quizzically focus on the contents of my dish.
One friend – we’ll call her Molly – puckers her lips and makes her stern face. “Are you eating a bowl of chocolate sauce? Do you know how many carbs are in that?” She shakes her head, eyes my waist significantly, then shares uncomfortable glances with the other dinner guests. As this is an imaginary dinner party, I immediately jump up, turn into a huge, hairy monster and eat Molly whole…except for her hands. I take the time to dip each and every one of her fingers into the bowl of A-1 before I crunch them down.
Assuming I restrained myself and didn’t eat Molly, the dinner might have continued in this manner. Smiling awkwardly, I say, “Molly, you crazy bitch, you. Just like I’d never tell anyone about your third nipple, I would never eat a bowl of chocolate sauce. That’s just crazy talk.” After Molly bounds out her chair, presumably running towards the bathroom for a good cry, the rest of the crowd begins to demand to know what it’s the bowl.
“Is that some kind of tofutti ice cream, you got there, Cristy? Looks like it’s melted a bit.”
“No, it smells familiar. George, don’t you think that smells familiar?”
“It’s pudding, isn’t it? She’s eatin’ pudding. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. Ummm, it is diet pudding – right, Cristy? Regular pudding’s got a lotta sugar in it, you know.”
My veins pulse and my muscles begin to bulge, ready to split my clothes to shreds (except for a few strategically places bikini-esque loin cloth pieces) as my body begins the process of turning into the huge, hairy monster, so that I can eat stupid Pudding Girl and suck the A-1 from her fingers. However, just in time, I take a sip of my perfectly prepared dirty martini (shaken, not stirred) and manage to relax sufficiently to reverse the process. Waving my free hand in front of my sweat-dripping face, I say in a hushed voice by way of explanation, “Perimenopause.” That’s one of those conversation finishers. Usually.
But these dinner guests – they’re not the sharpest crayons in the box. Think about it. If you were going to debut your bizarre food habit, would you do it in front of clever, insightful people who’d spend the evening discussing what Freud would make of your obsession and then blog about it the next day? I think not. You invite your Tier 3 guests – the kind who would somehow mistake A-1 Steak Sauce for melted tofutti. The kind who grew up next to a nuclear power plant and has an extra nipple – and a prehensile tail she’s never told you about.
“Perry-men-all-pause?” one man with an accent thicker than the tires on his John Deere repeats, confused. “You mean like when that Governor tries countin’ to three.” Okay, I might have invited a few relatives.
“No, forget it. Look, it’s A-1 sauce. In my bowl. I like the way it tastes, okay. ‘Variety is the spice of life,’ right?”
“You mean the steak sauce?” I nod. “The stuff you put on steak?” I nod again. Does this really need clarification? “The stuff in the brown bottle that you put on beef?” Oh, Lord. It’s gonna be a long night.
“Yes. A-1 Steak Sauce,” I state firmly. “The stuff you put on any kind of beef you could ever think of. Ever. You don’t even have to mention all the kinds of beef because, I assure you, they’re included.”
“Yes, even London Broil.” The next person to name a cut of beef dies.
Having returned to the table by now, Molly’s eyebrow shoots up as she self-consciously pats down a small, suspicious bump in the middle of her stomach. “Didn’t you dip the roast beef we had tonight in that stuff?”
“Yep, I did. Is it warm in here? Anyone want me to turn the air-conditioning on?”
Molly shoots me her stink eye. “You poured it over your veggies too, didn’t you?”
As I walk over to the thermostat to turn the air on full blast (Shoulda’ worn a band-aid over that third nipple, sweetheart!), I reply, “Yep. And now I’m gonna eat a small bowl of it with my finger for dessert.” As I punch the temperature button lower and lower and lower, I glance over my shoulder at Molly. “Got a problem with that?” She crosses her arms against her chest and shakes her head.
Pudding Girl, on the other hand, still won’t quite let it go. “Have you got a piece of meat swimmin’ somewhere in that sauce?”
“Nope. I’m eating it plain. I’m a purist.” That should shut them up. How do you argue with a purist about anything? It suggests that I’m a connoisseur. That I’m an expert. And, in reality, I am. I don’t ever wander into flavored A-1 territory or settle for HP Sauce or (shudder at the thought) buy a store brand.
But that doesn’t stop Pudding Girl. “Why don’t you use a spoon?” Granted, it’s a fair question.
Everyone around the table nods and I swear, I can read their minds: After all, you weren’t raised in a barn. Nope, I wasn’t…because there weren’t a lot of barns in the suburbs of Miami.
So why don’t I just use a spoon? It is, after all, a neutral, non-caloric delivery system. It could serve the same purpose as my finger. The answer is simple. A-1 is some caustic stuff, let me tell you. A-1’s second ingredient is distilled vinegar and the fourth is salt. Know what a paste made up of vinegar and salt does? It removes lime deposits from chrome sink fixtures. It also kills grass, cleans rust, polishes brass, and removes mineral deposits from shower heads. If meat condiments were whiskey, A-1 Sauce would be moonshine – 150 proof easy. You don’t just shovel this sauce down your throat – or you might not have one come morning. A delicate teaspoon delivering a stream of A-1 sauce down between the tonsils, unimpeded by taste buds, is no different than swallowing a gallon of lye. The finger, unlike the spoon, doesn’t serve up a dangerous river of sauce; the finger is coated in a thin layer of A-1 that can be licked cautiously. Your tongue absorbs the brunt of the blow, much like it does when you eat a bag of Salt & Vinegar potato chips. Much more subtle than a spoon, the finger is a measured sauce delivery system. If fingers weren’t more subtle in every way, people would type with spoons now, wouldn’t they?
So why do I eat it? It’s so yummy. Just the right balance of tomato and vinegar and saltiness and garlic and citrus. Hello…people put it on their filet mignon. If you’re gonna put anything on filet mignon, I have to assume it doesn’t suck. And I’m an addict. When it comes to sauces, I go through phases. For awhile, it was cheese sauce and there are so many acceptable delivery systems for that, let me tell you. Bar-be-que sauce is lovely and I’m convinced that the only reason God created eggs was so that we’d have a valid reason to eat Hollandaise sauce in public. (And yes, I totally clean every drop of Hollandaise out of the little cup with my finger after my eggs are gone. Okay, I’ve been using a spoon lately because my husband glares at me if I don’t.)
By the way, this problem of mine is genetic – as most addictions are. My mom is one of those would-you-like-a-little-bread-with-your-butter kind of person. Come to think of it, she’s also a would-you-like-a-little-hard-boiled-egg-with-your-butter and would-you-like-a-few-French-fries-with-your-mayo kinda girl, too. When I was growing up, she used to make me cauliflower drenched in a browned butter sauce. Swimming in it. It looked like little brains floating in oily sewage, but it tasted divine. Manna from Heaven – which I still believed in at the time. Want the sauce recipe? Cook about a pound of salted butter until it browns and sprinkle in a few breadcrumbs. I’m amazed I didn’t stroke out by the time I was nine. Now, as you probably know, plain cooked cauliflower doesn’t have a ton of flavor. Thus, this was my first exposure to food as a sauce delivery system and I bought into it hook, line and sinker.
My husband loves my mother’s cauliflower, incidentally. In general, he’s a sauce enthusiast. But the difference between me and Matt is a chasm the width of the San Andreas fault. How so? When Matt finishes a meal in which a sauce delivery system is utilized – let’s say, fettucini alfredo – he leaves the remaining sauce on the plate. On the plate! He has absolutely no qualms about scraping that perfectly good sauce into the garbage can or rinsing it from the plate’s surface and down the drain. He wouldn’t dream about surreptitiously carrying his plate into the kitchen and wiping up those last few creamy, savory drops with his finger. He’d never – and I mean, never – lick his plate clean. With his tongue. I’m not saying I’ve done that. I’m just saying Matt hasn’t. You infer what you like from that, judgment mongers.
Me, on the other hand, I’m a green kinda girl. I drive a hybrid and in order to reduce my carbon footprint, I don’t just throw sauce away, willy-nilly. I’m not gonna feel guilty about starving kids in Africa because I don’t waste my béarnaise, thank you very much. I appreciate my sauce and I show my gratitude by finishing it.
“Ummm, Cristy. Doesn’t A-1 Sauce have an awful lot of sodium in it?” Pudding Girl picks the bottle up off the table and examines the label. “Omigod! There’s like 280 mg per serving.”
“How big’s a serving?” Molly pipes in, shivering.
“A tablespoon.” Pudding Girl eyes my bowl, fear clouding her face. “There’s gotta be at least ten tablespoons in there. Lord, that works out to…to…”
“2800 mg of sodium,” Molly pipes up helpfully, smirking as though she just won the Mathletes award. Yeah, ’cause multiplying stuff by ten is soooooo hard. Puleeze! “Girl, you’re a walking heart attack. Do you know that the recommended daily allowance of sodium is only 2400 mg.” When did she become a freaking nutritional chart? She’s only a Tier 3 dinner guest. She’s got the intellectual curiosity of George W. Bush.
Okay, no. I didn’t. But it’s not like I do it every day. And I’m sure that this whole “recommended daily allowance” thing is averaged. If I hit the sauce hard one day, I’ll just eat plain broccoli for the next two days. Still, Molly didn’t stare at my waistline when she said it.
“Yeah, but how many calories does it have?” I snipe back. I know I’ve won here. Wresting the bottle from Pudding Girl’s hand, I examine the nutritional content chart, then crow loudly, “Ha! Only 15 calories. This bowl of A-1 has fewer calories than that giant spoon of caramel-drenched ice cream you’re about to shovel into your mouth, Molly.” Gotcha there, you three-nippled wench.
Dropping her spoon with a clink that warms my heart, Molly offers me a tight smile. Then, it’s as if the proverbial cartoon light bulb clicks on above her head and she basks quietly in its smug glow. “True, but sodium makes you retain water,” she says slyly, then glances at my waist.
If you’d like the recipe for Molly’s A-1 braised fingertips, just shoot me an email.