Today I bought a rice crispy square from the vending machine at my work.
This is not an unusual occurrence. I purchase a lot of things from machines that require loose change because I have a palate that easily forgives bagged or wrapped goods.
I would wager a guess that I eat anywhere between two and four rice crispies a week, and am completely non-discriminatory between those procured from vending machines and those created in our cafeteria’s kitchen.
This lack of discernment is a huge black mark on my character, I know.
Anyways, today at noon I rushed downstairs to buy this snack, and as I hadn’t yet eaten anything, I was feeling particularly ravenous.
I inserted my dollar fifty and greedily eyed the package as it fell into the machine’s retrieval void. As I picked it up, I noticed that the wrapping was a little suspect. There were no rips or punctures, but its rather ramshackle appearance did give me pause: what the hell had happened to this bar during its transportation from the factory to its final destination?
Unfortunately, I didn’t wax long on these thoughts before tearing right into it.
As I sat at my desk and munched away at my “lunch” (like the depraved feral animal that I am), I noticed that there was a strange colour coming out of the second half of the packaging. Upon closer inspection I could see that it was, in fact, a hair.
A long, black hair.
A long, black hair that had wrapped itself around my snack, like some angry, follicly-born anaconda (a real medusa-like foe) that was all too ready to squeeze the life out of me and turn me to stone.
I turned to my colleague and said, “I don’t feel so good about this.”
And she said, “That’s because you definitely shouldn’t.”
No doubt I am probably going to contract some kind of tropical fever and all I will have to show for myself is the contents of my work waste paper basket.
Talk about a legacy.
This is not the first time something like this has happened.
When Marc and I were living in England in 2009, we spent a week in Scotland scampering about Edinburgh and St. Andrews. When we weren’t hiking Arthur’s Seat in severe windstorms, or running along the beach Chariots of Fire-style, we were doing the things that most twenty-four year olds do when travelling: drinking too much and staying out too late.
One night, I asked Marc to take me to the Oxford Bar – the drinking establishment frequented by Inspector Rebus, the fictional detective and misanthropic protagonist of Ian Rankin’s best selling novels. You see, we had very limited internet access in our flat back in Birmingham, and in the absence of ever being online, I read about fifty odd Rebus books during the months that I was studying at the city’s university.
Now that we were in his city, it was imperative that I drink at the bar in which he like to drink.
We started out at the Oxford – me with white wine and Marc with a dark, bitter beer. It was there that we decided, being as it was that we were poor as hell students, that our nightly budget was to be spent on alcohol, and alcohol alone.
From there, were began our own Scottish bar crawl, venturing into both the shadiest of underground establishments and the absolute poshest of speakeasys – though we made a point not to linger in the latter.
At one of the bars, we were invited to join a Marks and Spencer’s Christmas party where I was gifted many glasses of wine, and Marc about one million shots of whiskey.
By the time we were sitting in the last bar of the night – a cozy little space right off of the royal mile – I could hardly feel my face. When the waiter came over to take our orders, it was all I could do to croak out: “One glass of water please.”
Marc, steadfast and brazen, ordered a scotch.
I’ll never forget picking up my water, taking a sip, and blurting out, “This water tastes like a shoe.”
It was a quarter to 3am, and it was time for bed.
But the problem being – there was no way in hell that we could return to our hostel in such rough shape. We needed food and we needed it right away.
There was a late-night diner just up the road from where we were staying, and having completely forgotten our plan of “no food, only booze” we both ordered burgers and milkshakes.
I had ordered a veggie patty with melted cheesed and when it came I didn’t even hesitate. I tore into that thing like David Attenborough was narrating my life. What I didn’t expect however, was to pull out a very orange, very plastic looking thing from inside the bun.
Puzzled, I turned to Marc and whispered, “What the hell is that?”
Marc, hammered, and intensely focused on consuming his food, looked me straight into the eyes and replied, “Oh man. Babe. That’s a piece of cheese with the wrapper still on.”
Horrified, but also cognizant of the fact that I was inebriated up the yin yang and insecure that the staff already thought me a belligerent American, I shuffled up to the counter and shyly inquired, “Ummm, excuse me? Is this cheese with the wrapper on?”
The woman stared and me for a long beat before answering in her strong Scottish brogue, “That’s a roasted bell pepper.”
“Oh,” I said. “I see. Thank you. So sorry for the trouble.”
The total embarrassment I felt in that moment precipitated an almost immediate sobering. Marc and I grabbed our milkshakes and beat a speedy exit out of there.
Back in our hostel we laughed ourselves silly before falling into bed. I remember drifting off to sleep thinking if this was the last night of my life, it would be one for the annals.
And now, compared to my imminent rice crispy doom, a much better way to go.