42. Summit Lake
I woke in the morning, meandered downstairs, drew the curtains and realised that the day before perhaps was not hell, but rather the mystical concept of purgatory. And that perhaps we had spent the whole previous day of excruciating pain atoning for our sins in preparation for the paradise that greeted me on the other side of the window. My eyes were hit by the view of a placid and tranquil lake, laced in a fresh light sprinkling of snow. My ‘jamy-clad’ body also became aware of a fresh intake of cold air. It was time for me to do one of my favourite things and light a fire in paradise.
Well I do not think that you need to hear every detail of our holiday. I guess you wouldn’t be interested in us drinking hot chocolate and eating s’mores in front of the fire. Or us watching the American Country Music awards and Democrats and Republicans fighting on the local news. You probably won’t be interested in me watching football and reading my book either.
By the time Sharon rose from her slumber, both the fire and the coffee were nice and cosy. Sharon had a cold, which meant it was my duty to trek the twenty-nine kilometres back into that horrible oversized intersection and do the grocery shopping for our next four days.
Men should be banned from entering supermarkets without suitable feminine company. It probably was not the dreadful toppling of the ‘Twin-Towers’ that triggered George Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan, it was probably the fact that Laura had sent him out to do the week’s supermarket shopping all by himself. George being left all alone trying work out the difference between Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Diet Coke Caffeine Free, Diet Coke Cherry and Coke Zero would have been enough for him to race back to the Oval Office and aggressively push that fatal red button. Thus, boom, Afghanistan was invaded.
When I know what I want and where it is, then I can shop and exit the supermarket with a few frazzled follicles left on my scalp. My method is to be quick and keep my head down. I fair-dinkum storm down the aisles and sweep the merchandise catapulting into my trolley whilst speeding from the corn chips to the water.
On this occasion, on account that I knew nothing, I was doomed before I started. What a way to start a holiday, being stuck in an oversized country, in an oversized supermarket, with oversized people, searching oversized shelves for oversized produce. Whereas I was one little person, buying for two small eaters, for four days, wanting healthy, additive-free food on a very limited budget.
“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain” is the expression that springs to mind. But it would have been a more pleasant experience to sharpen my toes in an electric pencil sharpener than conform to this particularly torturous corner of American culture.
Did you know that in America you can buy 100% pure orange juice with additives? I guess either the additives were pure, or I have a totally wrong concept of what 100% means, or an incorrect understanding of the word pure. And butter, oh my goodness, buying butter caused an udderly ridiculous spread of milky emotions. First, buying butter in anything less that a forty-four gallon drum(130) was near on impossible. Almost every container had picture-postcard-perfect pictures of cows, grass or butter on them, but only about ten percent of those containers actually had butter in them. The rest were all kinds of slick-additive-packed oily spreads. It probably took me about thirty minutes to read the copious amounts of fine print, before I had narrowed down my selection to about three brands of possibly 100% additive-free pure butter. Then I plucked out of the fridge the one with the lowest fat count, but promptly put it back on account that it was about the size of your average Kiwi hay bale(131). I am not 100% sure of what I left with, but there was a lot of it, it was almost too yellow and was high in fat content.
Now should we talk about buying corn chips? They come in sacks big enough to have sack races in. The big problem was actually the size versus price factor and again finding the natural without the additives. But on account of that there was a whole aisle of them, that was another thirty minutes gone. I will spare you the details. And the final thing that I learned, was that there seems to be no such thing a 100% cranberry juice. Beats me why?
And lastly what needs to be mentioned is paying, or perhaps rather, with what I paid. America, where are your stinkin’ fifty cent coins and why do you not have one and two dollar coins? And for goodness sake, what nation in the world would be so, so mean as to write ‘one dime’ on a coin and not tell us that it is actually a ten cent piece. And thanks, thanks a lot for actually writing ‘quarter dollar’ on your twenty five cent coin. Do you think it would be at little easier and understandable to just write twenty five cents? I mean surely it is not just foreigners and immigrants who have to learn your money, I presume your kids need to learn it as well? I note that you very cheekily plaster the word liberty on all of your coins, I presume this is your humour in reminding us that you have taken the liberty to confuse anyone who dares enter into your capitalistic spirit. Now correct me if I am wrong, but are all of your notes the same colour and even possibly the same size? If so, then putting ‘In God we trust’ on all your notes makes perfect sense. For indeed when I buy a fifty cent can of fizzy on the run, I am really trusting God that I am handing you a one dollar bill rather than a one-hundred dollar bill. I know I am being harsh. If I want to use it, I need to get over it and adapt to it. It is just why did your forefathers make it so hard for you?
Finally I drove across the supermarket car park across the road and across another car park to an op-shop(132). The driving distance was about the same as between any two rural Kiwi towns. I was still in search of my bib-type-overalls. Came up empty handed here as well.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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