Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Kleenex Proclamation

Glorious Haloumi. Or as the Canadians call it, Haloom.
Which is fine by me, because it's delicious, either way.

Note: quite a bit of foul language below.

A few months ago, I blogged about Glen's assumptions about food, which are abundant, passionate, sometimes hilarious, and usually, spot-on. The bulk of Glen's hardcore opinions revolve around food, and that which can be used to prepare food (have I mentioned his small appliance collection?), but he will, on occasion, branch out into the world of general retail, as well.

Glen is a maven in the shopping world, actually. He can quickly discern the value of something, whether or not the shop you're in happens to be the best place to buy it, whether it's made well, will perform properly, will taste good, etc. He's usually right, too, even though he often sounds like a complete madman, especially on the occasions he offers his very quick, visceral opinions on something. Madman or no, Glen knows his stuff: he has a gift, and what didn't arrive with his birth, has been acquired by an incredible amount of reading. Reading reviews, in particular.

It can be difficult to take Glen's opinions seriously, though, since they usually seem hasty, and completely over-the-top. But if you prod him for answers, you'll find that he's usually done his research, and failing that, you'll learn that he just has a really good instinct about shopping. I struggle with the trust factor because his opinions are plentiful, and colorful. But take it from me: he is usually right (except for about Kleenex, but we'll get to that).

We went shopping twice last week (trips which stocked our freezer, the stock which we fretted we'd lose in the ridiculous power outage over the weekend), once to a local supermarket, and once to a large warehouse store. I struggle philosophically with the big warehouse shopping sprees, in that I'm aware these stores are ruining the livelihoods of smaller shops, but since Glen is such a smart shopper, we tend to purchase only very specific items there, usually items related to tending a multitude of cats (which is costly), and we saved a bundle in litter and chow last week. I respect the fact that the smaller shops should have a livelihood, but also that we work hard for our money, and need a lot of freaking cat chow and litter.

Anyway, at the grocery store, we walked up the produce aisle, and noticed some specialty cheeses tossed in — rather willy-nilly, if you ask me — with the veggies. One was called Haloumi; we're familiar with this cheese, because it's relatively popular in Canada, and when Glen's family visits, they bring it to us, only they call it Haloom. Either way, it's a Turkish/Cypriot cheese. I would liken it to mozzarella in several ways: it's a white cow cheese, it's mild, and it's a bit rubbery. But it's tougher than mozzarella: the joy of Haloom/Haloumi is that you can grill, fry, and saute it, as-is; you can hit it with some brandy and light it on fire, and use lemon juice to douse the flames, and it will hold up. As long as you don't stick it on the grill with the chicken and let it cook for the same length of time, you can abuse this cheese a bit. The heat can be intense, but you should keep it brief.

I discovered it, among the radishes and bean sprouts and said, "Hey, look! We don't need to import the Haloom anymore." Glen was instantly skeptical: this Haloumi in our local grocery was longer, and kind of freeform (think fresh mozzarella), kind of like a braided rope. And, unfortunately (for Glen), covered in herbs. Looked to be parsley to me. Glen looked at the package quickly and immediately proclaimed, "This is shit. The Canadian stuff is better." And he put it down, and forged on, in search of the perfect onion.

"Wait!" I said, "How do you know it's shit?" I am, of course, skeptical of many of Glen's proclamations, even though he usually winds up being correct, and figured this one was due to a fierce national pride. I'm an American, AND I'm a realist: I know that Canada kicks our ass in a lot of areas, but I'm not going to let him get away with deeming a Canadian product better than an American one, just because he's Canadian. Especially when the items in question are both imported from Turkey.

He said, "That crap is covered with green shit."

"So what?" I said, "It probably imparts a nice flavor on the cheese, and besides, I might serve it with herbs, anyway."

"Well," he said, "they should have left that up to us. I don't want their green shit."

I was expecting an argument on how the Canadians have higher food standards, but it came down to "green shit."

A short time later, we found ourselves in the freezer section, and Glen wanted to see if his favorite frozen pizza, Tombstone, was on sale: frozen pizzas are handy in a pinch, though I am loathe to admit we eat them. He'll agree to purchase Tombstone when it gets around the 3 for $9, or 3 for $10 range, never more. That evening, Tombstone was in the $4.50 each range, and Glen was displeased. The middle finger of his right hand sprung forth, and he said, loudly, "FUCK YOU, TOMBSTONE!!! Hey, babe, let's get some pita, and we can make some hummus."

The "FUCK YOU, TOMBSTONE!!!" was ringing in my ears, and because a slightly shocked mother with two young children were standing near us, I almost didn't hear the bit about the pita and hummus. I put my head down and just followed Glen, but, as I skulked away, I decided then that I had no reason to feel the burn of shame. "FUCK YOU, TOMBSTONE!!!" in front of the family, were not my words, after all, and I have no control over what Glen says. So, it was that moment, I decided to detach while in the store with Glen. He's a grown man, and we've been together long enough that I know I will never be able to retrain him for better behavior in the store.

It's hard, though, and will take some effort, and I'll probably fail, a lot. But at least I now realize it's easier to detach and observe Glen than to remind him every, hmmm, 8 minutes or so, that we're in public and he needs to be on best behavior. Later in the week last week, we made our trip to the warehouse store, and as we rode through the parking lot, Glen's right arm extended in front of my face, and again, his middle finger rose up, pointing at, I thought, the passenger side window, which he rolled down with his ultimate power from the driver's side console. "FUCK YOU, DICK!!!" He yelled out the window.

I chanted to myself, "detach and observe, detach and observe, detach and observe," but my heart was racing and I was really thinking, "holy shit, holy shit, holy shit." Glen can be crazy, but he's usually not combative. I had no idea whom he was verbally assaulting, or how long before the fight would begin.

"WHO the HELL are you yelling at?" I asked, incredulously, and terrified.

"Dick's," he said, "I needed to buy new hockey gloves a few months ago, and those cocksuckers had them tied too closely together, and I couldn't try them on to see if they'd work for me, and when I asked the guy if we could cut the plastic cord so I could try them, he said no." He offered a visual of what it would have been like to try on those gloves, and it looked, roughly, like a set of hands praying. "Hockey gloves are expensive," he continued, "that asshole could have retied the gloves if they didn't fit me right. They lost my business. Fuck him, and fuck them."

I said, "I think that's a Sports Authority."

"Same thing," he said. "Fuck them too." His finger went back up toward the sporting goods store. I decided, impulsively, to give the building my middle finger as well. "Fuck you, Sports Authority," I said, but not with the same gusto or volume which Glen used. It felt good to stand by my man, instead of correcting him for his questionable behavior.

Once inside the warehouse, we went to the pet care aisle and loaded up with food and litter, so happy that they were well-stocked. Glen's a good shopper and we don't normally rely on coupons, but last week, we got lucky — cat litter was $2 off the already low warehouse price, and we were permitted to buy 5 buckets at $2 off, each. After procuring that which we came for, we meandered up and down the aisles, just to see what else they had, and came upon the household paper product section. We needed toilet paper, and with guests on the way, we figured it made sense to get the one-gross pack, or whatever it was. It was a lot of toilet paper. While in that section, Glen noticed the tissues, a case of Kleenex, specifically. "Who are the ASSHOLES who buy Kleenex?" he said. "Why can't people use toilet paper to blow their fuckin' noses? They're blowing SNOT out of their heads. SNOT. Why should SNOT get fancy paper?"

I noticed an elderly couple rounding the corner and heading toward the Kleenex, and I felt the urge to clench up, and then correct Glen, but I felt liberated by our experience in front of the Sports Authority, so instead, I leaned into Glen and said (quietly, for the record), "I bet THEY use Kleenex," gesturing discreetly in the direction of the old couple. "I bet THEY have a box right now in the back window of their car."

"ASSHOLES," Glen said, with less volume than usual. Even though he has no understanding of why anyone would use Kleenex, he does respect the elderly, possibly — no offense to the elderly — more than they deserve.

In an overall sense, I would describe myself as a reasonably lucky person (knock wood): I've been healthy, and have never broken a bone. Aunt Flo doesn't bring me down, and I don't have allergies or many sensitivities. I can eat what I want and come in contact with any number of noxious chemicals with no ill effects. In fact, when it comes to verbal irritants, I'm largely unaffected as well. That quality alone has made Glen wonder if I'm really a chick, but I think the truth of it is that dudes are way more sensitive than women, but have been projecting all that baggage on us women for generations, and since we live in an honest age of reality TV and fantastic, revealing memoirs, dudes are beginning to see the truth: they're the sensitive ones, not us. But I suppose, also, women are slightly less idiotic than men (overall). Okay maybe A LOT less idiotic than men. For instance, I don't eat the thermonuclear-level chicken wings just to show my friends how much stupid pain I can endure, and, I guess, how well I sweat. I live in New Jersey, dammit, and while I love the smell of gas, have no need to pump my own, and I don't spend my free time putzing around with cars. So, these days, my exposure to the noxious is limited to, for the most part, do-it-yourself epoxy-resin kits and cat poopies. In the same vein, I try not to spend time around people who are likely to irritate me.

The point of all of that is that I've never really been dependent on any item to clear my nose, though I did mention to Glen that I purchased a box of Kleenex-brand tissues about ten years because the box was "really pretty." Glen, possibly enjoying the fact that I had, instead of suggesting better behavior, taken his side on his assault against Kleenex and the people who use it, said thoughtfully, "I can understand that. Some of the boxes are kinda pretty."

Brenda, Glen's sister, arrived the next night. We met my sister, Jenny, and her kids on Saturday, and went to the thrift stores, and visited the seƱora who sells the tamales. My family headed home, and Glen, Brenda, and I continued shopping: Glen and his family are truly phenomenal shoppers, and the loot pulled from these expeditions is remarkable. Over the course of this visit, we acquired several Chuck Norris, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and More Cowbell t-shirts, a pasta maker that will make a flat noodle for lasagne and/or ravioli (I mentioned once or twice to Glen it might be nice to make our own ravioli), a ton of Zitner's Easter Chocolates (to send back to Canada — Philadelphia-based Zitner's, by the way, is much better than the Canadian traitor Laura Secord's chocolates, BOO-YEAH!! Butter Krak rules!! If you haven't tried Zitner's, get thee to a store which sells them; read this article in the Philadelphia City Paper for more info. And here's another loving testimonial.)

Picture courtesy of The Bridge and Tunnel Club

Brenda also purchased a couple of wacky plastic chirping birds for her boyfriend, whom we lovingly call Jolene (it's a story for another time), though I hope I haven't given away the surprise (of the birds...not the nickname). She unpacked her loot, and she also produced one box of — gasp — Kleenex. I started to chuckle, and Glen scowled. "Only assholes buy Kleenex."

How fortunate for Glen that Brenda gets him. She laughed and said, "I know I'm an asshole, but I have really sensitive skin around my upper lip and nose." I told her the story of the Kleenex Proclamation and Costco, and she had already heard the "FUCK YOU, TOMBSTONE!!!" tale, and since she is Glen's sister, she knows of Glen's opinions, and agrees with me: they're often hilarious, but more often, correct.

Okay, he's usually correct, except for maybe his Kleenex Proclamation, which is just kind of harsh and judgmental, even though I don't use the product myself (like I could get away with it in this house). We've had a number of visitors in recent weeks with either mild cat allergies or were recovering from colds, and well, it's just gauche to hand them a roll of toilet paper. But I do. Because I'm not an asshole. At least I hope not.


Irving Bertrand Clean said...

"you can abuse this cheese a bit"
That, my friend, is priceless.

Also, would it be OK if I were to follow you and Glen on your next shopping trip? Just let me follow with a hidden camera. We might never have to work again.

TOO freakin' funny!!!

Brendage said...

I am an asshole. I didn't bring you any Haloom and I use kleenex. I should be put in the back window of someones car to melt in the sun like an old cassette tape! Whuh!
Fuck U Tombstone!