Tag Archives: food

My Dear, You Look Radishing


Sometimes you just have to know when to run for it. That fight or flight response kicks in and you know that punches will be less effective than a trail of dust, so you kick up your heels and get out of dodge. I had an experience like this once in a local grocery store, and while there was no pedal to the metal, I did make good time on the aisle corners with that buggy. Like a million others before me, all I wanted to do was buy a few vegetables. Enter Weird Grocery Guy.

The perfect place for an ambush

The perfect place for an ambush

I was standing in the produce section trying to decide between asparagus or zucchini squash when I turned to find him blocking my cart.

“Excuse me! I don’t want to interfere with your shopping, but I simply had the urge to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.”

As far as opening lines for men declaring their affections against a backdrop of Portobello mushrooms and pole beans, it wasn’t a bad start. But the fact that he was blinking like a caution light, sweating profusely, and gesticulating like an Edgar Allan Poe narrator made me take a step back into the red cabbage section.

“Oh, I don’t want to bother you!” Blink, blink. “I have zero expectations about dates!” Jab wildly into the air. “I just think that women like you should be told more often that they’re beautiful.” Blink, blink, blink, mop forehead.

“Oh,” I said, curling my fingers around my buggy handle and scouting the area to my immediate left for an opening. “How. . . nice of you.”

“Oh, don’t mention it.” Arms flailing. “I’m the perfect man for the job!” Blink, blink.

Two thoughts crossed my mind: one, why couldn’t rising unemployment rates put this man out of a job, and two, why didn’t I have the FBI’s number on speed dial? I was just about to arm myself with red potatoes and pelt away, but then he stepped around my buggy to close the gap, and I took off like Secretariat at Belmont. To heck with asparagus or fresh squash. It was feeling more like a double-bolt-your-door-and-have-a-slice-of-frozen-pizza-while-oiling-your-shotgun kind of night by the minute.

I made good time through the candy aisle and finally shook him in the cheap wine section. He must have been a Baptist, since no self-respecting member of that denomination would be caught dead amidst the Chardonnay lest a deacon spy him and set up an intervention plan to pull him back from the evils of alcohol. Sometimes it really does pay to know your local demographics.

I can lose him in here!

I can lose him in here!

I shopped cautiously the rest of that trip, and when I reached an end cap of an aisle, I tentatively peered around the corner before emerging in plain sight. At the end of the soup aisle, I saw WGG with another victim hemmed in by the salad starters. I couldn’t read expressions from that far away, but I could see the broad, sweeping arm motions, looking as if he was trying to land a plane on the Vidalia onions. By the time I reappeared on the other side of the pastas, Victim 2 was wheeling away with enough velocity to lay tire tread on the linoleum. Just another satisfied customer of the Beautiful Compliments industry.

© 2014 – Traci Carver


Friend or foe?  Or new family member?

Friend or foe? Or new family member?

I can still remember a time when you walked out the door and left technology behind you. Sure, you got into a car and walked into stores with air conditioning, but you left the gadgets at home. Phones rang endlessly because no one was at home, and you missed whatever was playing on television because you went out to socialize instead. Losing the programming from all two of those channels was no great loss anyway. From May to September you were living off reruns, and Sunday afternoons afforded nothing better than golf – the dregs of entertainment. Even kids lost all interest in that magical box other than Saturday mornings, when cartoons reigned supreme for four hours. These days children have access to entire stations that stream talking sponges nonstop. Oh, the progress we have made. But perhaps we have also ensnared ourselves with our modern conveniences. Now instead of being able to leave your work at the office, you can access your email on a screen the size of a saltine cracker right from your purse. And instead of leaving that ringing contraption at the house, friends and family members expect you to answer the phone anytime they deem to hit the Call button under your name. I don’t really think we have a grip on technology; I think it’s the other way around.

I ate supper with my best friend a few nights ago in celebration of her birthday. While the restaurant may be modest by New York standards, in my small town the local Japanese steak house is one of the premier places to feast, so I marveled as I watched the family of three across the reflective grill. The wife never took her eyes off of her phone.

About thirty seconds after they sat down, she got a call. She proceeded to talk for the next twenty minutes. She chatted through the drink and meal order, through the wonton soup, and through the salad with the yummy ginger dressing. Her husband and daughter talked briefly to each other, but it was hard for them to compete with her. Shannon and I were having a hard time, and we were clear across the steaming pit, at least four paper lanterns away. She was even still talking when the chef rolled out his cart and started tossing eggs in the air, but when flames rose three feet off the grill and threatened her Lifeproof case, she finally told Jojo she’d call her back. As if there was anything left to say at this point.

And now you’re thinking that after leaving her family in a communication desert for the length of time that it takes to watch a Big Bang episode that this woman would shape up and mind her manners. You’d be wrong. As soon as she ended the call, she went head down, totally absorbed in her screen. The only time she spoke to her daughter was to point out an interesting update on somebody’s Facebook page. She missed the onion volcano, the Asian fireworks, and the pulsing fried rice heart spatula. I think our chef could have set himself on fire and she wouldn’t have noticed, although her poor husband looked bored enough to give it a try.

At the end of the hour, the husband finally pulled Mrs. Facebook away from all the interesting posts on the latest in fabric softener and the calorie count consumed by the “friend” she’s never really liked anyway, and they rose from the table, her thumb still on the move. The wife left behind an entire plate of steak and shrimp since she’d been too engrossed to eat. She should have just tossed her $25 on the grill and watched it burn, but I doubt she could have spared the time away from her network.

“You know,” I said to Shannon as I chased the last of my fried rice with chopsticks, “I hope we never get to the point that we can’t have a conversation because our scrolling gets in the way.”

Shannon nodded. “At least if the chef had torched my eyebrows, she would have been Johnny on the spot with 911.”

© 2014 – Traci Carver

May Days


I turned the final corner on the school year with the arrival of May, the most exciting month of the year. Don’t get me wrong; I love teaching, but after grading a few thousand essays over the last ten months, the upcoming golden days of June and July are 24 hour gold nuggets that I will hoard like Midas. I bask in the fact that I will finally have time to read something that doesn’t involve a step-by-step process of how to blast a raccoon right out of an oak tree or doesn’t try to persuade me that “young ‘ins really don’t need no schoolin’ beyond the sixth grade.” I can sleep past the hour of 5:30, and I can go to the bathroom any darn time I want. The freedom is dizzying and tempts you into bohemianism. Or at least a few spontaneous days down at the pool. But the month of May is also bittersweet as it means the closure of a good year with my students. As I think back on the 2013-14 year, I see my kids as possessing creativity, humor, and a distinct sense of justice.

For the many years that I’ve taught mythology to my freshman classes, I’ve asked them to create their own god or goddess and write a myth to accompany their statue. The students never fail to impress, and I’ve had beautiful works of art grace my classroom, each with a unique story behind the miniature figure. I’ll never forget the year excessive rains coincided with the presentation of the statues, and when we left them in my classroom overnight, we returned the next day to find dozens of tiny frogs who had wiggled under my outside door only to expire by the shelf with the 4 inch deities. I told the students this was obviously a judgment in the form of a plague of Egypt since we had so many idols in the room. They nodded sagely and carried those frog-killing totems away.

A photo of student brilliance

A photo of student brilliance

My students also make me smile with their sense of humor. Just this week a student walked in after my junior composition class had already started, and one of my boys told her in no certain terms to hit the bricks. I asked what had happened to their Southern hospitality (a recent essay topic), and Bayly quickly amended, “We really enjoyed your visit. Do come back now, ya hear?” And then there was Lisa’s comment on the Paleo diet: “Sure, you’re supposed to eat the way our ancestors did, but let’s be honest here. If our ancestors had had chocolate cake, they would have eaten it.”

I'm pretty sure any stone savage would have put down the club and partaken of the dirt cake.

I’m pretty sure any stone savage would have put down the club and partaken of the dirt cake.

But more than any other trait, my students possess a strong sense of fairness. During our Grandparents’ Day festivities, I had my students participate in a writing activity and then read their creative pieces aloud to our venerated guests. Given that my class demographics are heavy to the XY persuasion, I gave an admonition to make sure that all material in their stories would be appropriate. I’m sure you can guess where this is headed. One story was moving along beautifully until the boys suddenly had a pig stop to smoke something that isn’t exactly sold over the counter. Perfect. As soon as the spokesperson said it, he looked up to meet my eyes and immediately began apologizing and pointing fingers. The next day, I brought in food for my sophomores, and when that spokesperson happened to peek into my room and see the baked goods, he began petitioning for their class.

“I’m sorry, but what part of a reefer-smoking swine do you think warrants a piece of my homemade pound cake?”

He pursed his lips, nodded his head and responded, “You’ve got me there, Ms. Carver. Quite right.”

He walked out and never questioned the verdict or the sentence. Even when they’ve ticked me off, I still love my kids.

© 2014 – Traci Carver