Cybernetic Eating Habits of a Poor Reporter

(NOTE: Sometimes I write things and forget I wrote them. Usually, with good reason. Here’s an example.)

Typical freelance journalist—at least, one living on the cusp of the communal cup that was the U.S. dole, filled with whatever sketchy dross…whatever watered-down witches brew… you might expect to find at the bottom of such a public assistance barrel at the end of a long reign of conservative Republican plutocracy. He was a diabetic from a long line of poor Irish Methodist diabetics, which was slightly funny (or not) when you paid attention to his one decorative vice: collecting soda pop memorabilia from the turn-of-the-20th century sugar-syrup and soda water gluttony…when a hundred brands proclaimed their prohibitionist Puritanism with the rise of the soft(er) drink, just as the medicine shows were drying up thanks to the Pure Food and Drug Act curtailing the magic of enough heroin, cocaine, and laudanum to raise the Titanic on good cheer alone.

The bottlers went from Doctor Pinkman’s Powerful Powder to Pepsi Cola, and those heavy old dope bottles lined wooden shelves, with Gibson Girl soda trays and framed adverts from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He pulled a box of frozen Argentinean line-caught Tilapia filets, bought with a Food Stamp debit card thanks to the kind words of a French-Canadian doctor, whose son’s indiscretions with a local transgendered prostitute and crystal meth cook had been creatively edited from a Page 2 Police Blotter filler. (The Power of the Press)

The frozen machine-prepped squares of fish went into the oven. He waved the box over the oven’s scanner, and it adjusted the temperature and timer, and added another box to his shopping list, downloading a USDA/Food Stamp Coupon for $1.00 and entering his name in a contest which offered as the grand prize a Virtual Reality “Be An Alaskan Snow Crab Fisherman” give-away.

The hologram on the box downplayed the Argentinean Sea Lab where the “fish” had been “caught”…instead: there was a bearded Yankee wearing a yellow slicker, at the wooden wheel of a barely-suggested fishing vessel circa 1875. The fisherman winked at him. If you winked back he would pull up an animated USDA Eat More Protein! display.  Instead, he pulled the tab that deconstructed the box, and began the auto recycling program, folded the box in half and pitched it into the Pig. The Pig oinked! a thank-you.

He took a bottle of expensive Saucier Works sauce. The kind that was like wine: you were supposed to add a thimble-full of Balsamic Vinegar, and it would distill something exotic that got better with each month you let it cook-down in the fridge. Except he had forgot to feed it the vinegar, so it was now mostly just expensive ketchup, which was okay, too.

When he was a kid, his mother would take him to Cap’n Jacks and he would get Fish Sticks and dip them in that sweet ketchup that you squirted out of the Pirate by mashing down on his head.  His mother always said that was disgusting, because the menu said the REAL Cap’n Jacks was a pirate who used to cut people’s heads off with his cutlass.

It had been his favorite restaurant.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting piece… but I have to ask— The doctor’s son would not happen to be based on a someone we both know, would he?


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