Mr. Sparky and I drove to Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon so that we could be present for the Baton Rouge Sparkette’s Sunday celebration for graduation from ministry school. On our way home we decided to make a couple of stops in Pensacola. One of our stops was an international deli, a joint that specializes in imported food and also sells some freshly made items.
I like browsing places like this, but this particular one comes with a couple of hazards. One is an owner who can be rather pushy and very generous when it comes to weighing out purchases, and the other is Taster Boy.
Today’s Taster Boy was new on the job, but he was a natural. He approached me with a tiny styrofoam tray loaded with a few samples that he encouraged me to try. I obliged, of course. It would be rude to reject a Taster Boy In Training.
It’s a delicate stage, you know. Everyone needs a chance to learn.
The first sample was some sort of pork tenderloin stuff loaded onto a bit of freshly baked French bread that was still slightly warm. The pork was delicious, and loaded with garlic.
The second sample was a fire-roasted pepper feta cheese glopped onto a bit of freshly baked French bread that was still slightly warm. The feta was delicious, and loaded with garlic.
At this point Taster Boy disappeared and I figured he was accosting other customers. Wrong. He was just reloading.
The third sample was a two-fer: a delightfully smooth hummus topped with fresh tabbouleh, piled onto a bit of freshly baked French bread that was still slightly warm. Both were delicious, and loaded with garlic.
Taster Boy left again, and I thought I was finally off the hook. Um…no.
The fourth sample, my favorite, was a sun-dried tomato soft cheese concoction, smeared onto a bit of freshly baked French bread that was still slightly warm. It was delicious, and loaded with garlic.
At this point I’m pretty sure I could have melted a breathalyzer.
Taster Boy also worked his magic on Mr. Sparky, who purchased some of the pork and a vat each of the hummus and tabbouleh to go, as well as two loaves of freshly baked French bread that was still slightly warm.
I waved aside the green cloud that rolled around me with every exhale and headed for the van. My garlic-fire breathing abilities were starting to subside by the time we arrived home nearly two hours later, but no worries. We had plenty of that pork and hummus and tabbouleh to refuel the flame.
I’m pretty sure I reek, but who here would know? We all ate in self-defense here tonight, consuming the same garlic-laden foods on freshly baked French bread, no longer warm but still wonderful. But it wasn’t the meal that created this Godzilla breath.
It was that first little sample I ate.
One single contact with garlic and there was no doubt what I’d consumed. Every bite after that just solidified the punch.
I find myself wondering if the rest of my life leaves any doubt about what I consume, or what consumes me. Do the people closest to me know what really grabs my heart? What about those who observe from a bit more distance? What do I reflect? Is it obvious what I’m eaten up for in deepest places by what can be observed on the surface? When I open my mouth, does it bring confirmation or create doubt?
Of course, I don’t really know the answers to those questions because I am too close, too caught up in cloud.
Perhaps I shall consider it over a dollop of hummus and some freshly baked French bread.