Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Heartbreak of Veggie Enlargement, or The Strange Case of Ken's Rutabaga Envy


On a platform high above the turnips and rutabagas was a redfaced man with a brush cut and a Fu-Manchu mustache. He was dressed in a red jacket and red-and-black plaid pants. He was seated upon a Lion throne, and held the Rotary Club wheel in his hand. Suddenly, the combined membership of the Lions and Rotary clubs drove up in a taxi and Mabel danced on top of it.

Musical stylings were compliments of Leo Beers, the World Renowned Whistling Songster, (born in New York City and based in Freeport, Long Island) and his pianoforte (born in Cleveland), and late of the Orpheum Theater in Philadelphia, regaling us with his rendering of “The Waters of Venice”. All attending thought his whistling entrance and exit were effective and his piano playing contained much that was unusual and clever.

Taking no notice of these theatrics, the Fresh Produce Manager (as I was later told to call him) raised his hand in greeting.

"Hi, I'm Ian, Pleased to meet you."

"Hi. I'm not sure what I'm doing..."

"We buy only top grade number one quality produce. That makes the job of giving customers a great produce experience a little easier."

"I don't really want to buy any..."

The man sitting beside Ian interrupted me. He had a slightly longer nose and a toothy smile. He wore orange spangled lederhosen. However, he wore a manly blue tie adorned with a 15-year service pin.

"Hi, I'm Ken, Assistant Fresh Produce Manager," he said. "I judge the quality of my produce by my own high standards. Making sure that my customers can choose from the freshest possible produce every day is my number one concern!"

By this time I was fairly sure that these two guys weren't listening to me. Ken looked suspiciously like Ian, except that Ian had a beard and Ken was sporting a red Kaiser Wilhelm mustache. They both had broad, wax-bean smiles and tight, Simonized faces. I checked my wallet. My face-waxing appointment was in two weeks. 

Through all of this, I did not fail to notice that an electrical cord led from Ken’s left cloven hoof to a power bar next to the cling peaches bin.

Suddenly, Ken stood up and launched into a long apology about the size of the Rutabagas their suppliers were forcing on them. Apparently, there was a drought in Rutabaga territory. Then he flipped a switch, and a colorful video splayed across the back wall, showing a man fitting a mechanical contraption onto a subtly smiling rutabaga. A voice-over said:

"Now, you too can enlarge your rutabagas without invasive surgery or embarrassing doctor's appointments. The VeggieExtender will increase the girth of your rutabagas right in the privacy of your own home! The VeggieExtender uses the very same proven principles as the extender invented by Dr. Hugo Chickenstirfry, a certified horticulturist and specialist in Rutabaga Epanouissement in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, and then back to Denmark before withdrawing all of the cash and taking a fast flight to Argentina..."

Somehow, I had the feeling that Ken was compensating for the bad karma involved with his disappointing rutabaga shipments. As if in anticipation of my thoughts, he shoved his thumb into his mouth and blew on it until he turned blue, causing an intense blue aura to radiate from the Seedless Valencia Oranges.

"And you thought oranges glowed naturally!" he said, lurking back to his lair behind the nuclear power plant.

At the same time, Ian turned his head, shook his Rotary symbol majestically, and coughed.

Immediately, Smike and I were caught up in an immense swirling cataclysm. When the dust and fruit settled, we realized that we had been whipped to an airless planet with a dung-colored sky, two moons, and no professional hockey for at least a year.

"It could be worse," said Smike.

"What could be worse?"

"According to my i-Pod, our luggage is on its way to Pittsburgh."