Monday, March 19, 2012

Artichokes Made Me Abandon My Car!

I'm not kidding!
   They look like pods from the monster in Little Shop of Horrors. Artichokes. I love them. There are several ways to prepare an artichoke, but I like the simple way: I boil them. They're not cheap in this part of the world. They can cost as much as three bucks a piece. I boil them until the leaves are soft. To eat them, you peel the leaves off, dip them in melted butter, and scrape the meat off with your teeth.
   Tasty. Darn tasty. They were a rare treat for me when I was a kid--because they're expensive vegetables (succulents, really, but let's not get bogged down), and because they're not easy to find.
   When I was fresh out of college and got my first paycheck, I went grocery shopping and found artichokes. I was thrilled. I bought four of them, went straight home, and started the water boiling. I ate all four of them all by myself.
   The next day I was minding my own business, merrily driving up I-75 toward the office, and I my nether regions. There was gas building up inside me and there was no stopping it. I released the gas with a satisfying sound most mothers would not approve of. Then I released more. And more.
   This might be hard to believe, but a green cloud rose from under me. It was noxious. It was palpable. I think it's name was Guido! I tried to ignore it--but it was like trying to ignore a fist shape block of tear gas. A greasy film covered the windshield and windows. The green cloud rose to my shoulders. I couldn't hear the radio. A flock of birds flying overhead swooped over passing vehicles--I'm sure in an attempt to warn the drivers of the toxic substance filling the Chevy Cavalier in the right lane.
   Rolling down all four windows did not provide release for anything except my screams of terror. Have you ever tried to scream without inhaling after you emptied your lungs? It ain't easy, but by golly, I wasn't going down without a fight!
   After about 48 seconds, maybe 49, I stopped on the shoulder of the road. The noxious gas--Guido to his friends--won. There was no way I could remain in that doomed vehicle. Cars swerved to avoid the fingers of gas forming a log fog-like cloud over the interstate. And no one...bothered  to stop and ask the man standing on the shoulder staring at the vehicle with a mix of pride and horror if he needed assistance.
   I think I was late to the office that day, and I'm glad I didn't have to explain why. I got back in the car eventually...but I waited a good ten minutes per artichoke before I got back in the car.

Artichokes -- eat at your own risk.

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