Sunday, November 18, 2018

Walkaway Non-sequitur

I was at the supermarket today, crouching down, looking at the "honey butter" crescent rolls. Four days before Thanksgiving, the regular rolls were blown out. There were plenty of "Hawaiian" ones, and "big and buttery" ones, and "big and flaky" ones and "butter flake" ones. I suspect those are all the same dough in different canisters, but I am suspicious by nature when it comes to things that rise. 

A lady crouched down next to me. "If you're looking for more of the regular," she said, "they're over there. What are those?"

"The honey butter," I said. 

She stood and walked away, saying jovially, "Oh no, I can't put those on my rattlesnake bites."

Now, I realize I should have run after her and asked her to elaborate, but part of me was afraid. I figured she was either a Pentecostal snake-handler or, worse, just a snake-handler. She appeared normal, but you never know with grocery shoppers. Especially outside the organic department. 

She said it so casually, as if one always throws out snakebite remedies to total strangers who aren't snakebit. Honey butter crescent dough for a rattler? Are you trying to get me killed? 

I learned what a poultice was by reading "Clan of the Cave Bear." A poultice was apparently great for applying to an open wound 30,000 years ago. Here is a typical exchange on the topic, paraphrased from my memory of reading it in the 1980s:

Ayla: (using crude sign language) Let me treat wound, Creb. 

Creb: What wound? I fine.

Ayla: Your arm, flayed by giant cat. I fix.

Creb: That not wound. That ketchup.

Ayla: Ketchup not invent yet. That blood.

Creb: I invent ketchup two moons past. 

Ayla: I put poultice on ketchup then.

Creb: Mmmm. That good. That Pillsbury crescent dough? Good on ketchup.

Ayla: Yes. Honey butter.

Creb (recoiling) Honey butter?! You try to kill Creb?!

I gave the lady nothing. No nod. No "Ahhhh." No affirmation that her knowledge of yeast-based snakebite remedies was at all unusual, or appreciated. I played it off as completely ordinary, so now I picture her at home with her husband:

Lady: I did the snakebite schtick at Vons and the guy didn't even look at me weird. 

Man: No dirty look? No disgust? He didn't even back away slowly?

Lady: Nothing. He just read the calorie info on the honey butter rolls, cool as you please.

Man: Next time, finish with a crazed cackle. 

Lady: Yes! A cackle. That's what it needed. 

Man: And a leer. Then you're golden.

Lady: People are getting harder to freak. I blame the president.

Man: Did you get the rolls?

Lady: Ohhhh. I totally forgot.

I will never know if she was crazy or just a fan of the walkaway non sequitur. If it's the latter, she has my admiration. A lot can go wrong there. You may get followed. Yelled at. Insulted. The timing has to be just right; the delivery, the nonchalant turn, the exit. Yes, I admire it. 

I found the regular rolls around the corner, just where she had pointed. She may have been nuts, but she saved me a trip to another store, another gallon of gas, saved the environment a little bit, saved me from having to write about my dumb dog again. And that's not nothing.