Having been sucked by my own gluttony into the Superstore-at-the-End-of-the-World, I partook of several free samples (strange bits of cheese, small chunks of toast spread with breakfast cereal) as I flew through the entrance area. I had the faint impression that this food had been set aside specifically for me. That impression may have been prompted by the sign on the sample table: "Have some cheese, Aardvark Al."
Is it possible that someone knew I was coming?
Every time I thought the word "possible", a noise outside like the rumbling of a thousand thunders rang in my ears. I should get unlisted ears.
I peeked outdoors through the display of bags of road salt. There was nothing except the murky black emptiness I had come to know and love.
"Do not cling to your past perceptions, whether through fear or terror." said Smike, licking his paw. "Take heed instead of the natural sound of reality. Alternatively, you could just adopt a chimpanzee and carry it around on your back."
I decided not to take him up on the chimp idea. That sounded too weird, and much like something my dog might say.
"Are you sure you're not a dog?" I hissed.
I'm glad we cleared up that ambiguity. Still, I had to ask. Everybody knows they put cat's ears on dogs these days.
I looked around. Inside the Superstore, the ceiling was a deep starry blue. I was in the Fresh Produce department. Bins were piled high with fruits and vegetables. There were vast cataracts of warm, fuzzy, ready-to-eat cling peaches, $1.99 a pound. Red Seedless Grapes, $1.29 a pound. Mangos, 99 cents each. (Even the Customer Service Manager, a former taxi dancer named Mabel, was not that expensive.)
But don’t get me started on the subject of fruit.
I mean, the nice thing about fruit is that it in no way acts like meat.
We've all had the disgruntling experience of being stuck at a party in a conversation with a boring slab of meat. (This is not to impugn people who enjoy being gruntled. If you like gruntling, go ahead. Don't let us stop you.)
There's really not much you can do to get away in one of these party situations, because the meat invariably grabs your arm and holds on for dear life while it tries to sell you insurance or busts your chops about its stock portfolio. Fruit, on the other hand, is a complete delight at a party. Especially with whipped cream, and those little green pistachio nuts, which fortunately are politically unaffiliated.
This is not to say that all categories of fruit are blameless. There is no way we're going to heap praise on either fruitcake or fruit cocktail.
Fruitcakes are actually lethal weapons, according to the airlines, which have recently forbidden people from carrying fruitcake on planes. Yes, if you want to carry a cake to Aunt Edna for Christmas, you'll have to stow it in cargo. Apparently, a number of enraged airline passengers have broken into cockpits and threatened pilots with some pretty menacing looking fruitcakes.
And nobody has any respect for fruit cocktail. I mean the "cocktail" part of it is enough to give fantods to even the most liberal teetotaler. And what do all those fruit think they're doing hanging around in a bowl? And that sugary syrup! I mean, I wasn't born yesterday...
Exactly what is your problem about fruit?
I’m glad I got that off my chest. (If you think it’s not uncomfortable walking around with fruit on your chest, you’d be mistaken.)
Having said that, most of the fruit ilk are strictly OK. Well, bananas are a bit suspect. And we'll be damned if we'll be caught talking to a kiwi. They're just too damned fuzzy. And passion fruit are definitely out. But we see no reason why you couldn't bring home a nice unattached Bartlett Pear next Saturday. Especially if she's from a good home.
You disagree? Oh, come on, now! Man, if there's one thing I can't stand it's a beefier-than-thou attitude.