Every day at twelve, regardless of craving, I can be found bent over a black cutting board in my minute kitchenette, sawing at a loaf of homemade wheat bread. To my right, a blue-lidded jar of peanut butter rests on the manila countertop, as tempting as a bead-swinging prostitute bathed in a pool of red light. As I slice away two pieces, I begin my query. Do I use a teaspoon for the peanut butter today, or a butter knife? After deciding, I swing open the cupboard to my upper right, reach for the decided implement, and then begin the daily ritual of unscrewing, smearing, unpeeling, smashing, and quartering. Only Elvis Presley could take me down in a Peanut Butter and Banana eating challenge, providing his progress was not slowed by his preferred addition of bacon.
Any addiction needs a supplier, however. Now, were I banana-conservative, a hand of seven would last a week. But because my intense love for this peculiarity is so demanding, I usually buckle after dinner and make another half for dessert, resulting in another demi-banana invested in my sustenance. At ten bananas a week, the dwindling hand that dangles from my banana hangar calls for replenishment; thus, trips to the grocery store are a neverending affair.
This past weekend, I gripped another hand of seven bananas while waiting in line at a nearby grocer. Glancing at others like a paranoiac lest I be discovered, I espied an energetic gentleman with hair the color of snow jauntily directing himself toward me, singing and swinging a red plastic basket heaped with frozen peas. I recognized him as one of my subjects and greeted him by name. Noting his bin’s contents, he began our conversation.
“We were in the middle of dinner, and we ran out,” he said.” So I decided to make a quick trip to the grocery store.”
I sympathized. In my years of service, I have worked through Mexican cantinas ‘“86”ing’ corn tortillas, olive oil wells drying up at Italian trattorias, and the eternal substitution of broccolini for asparagus. The sight of a chef asking a back-of-house employee to quickly run to the grocer is as familiar a sight as watching a neighbor walk a dog.
Noting the urgency of his trip, I let my friend step in line in front of me. After all, the forty-year industry veteran did have an eatery to run. Myself, I only had an addiction to feed.