When out shopping, when you're tired and hungry and a little bit doped up on pain pills, there are several important things to remember. FIrst among these: Be very careful about buying dog treats and beef jerky that have similar packaging.
I was running errands a few blocks from my house in Brooklyn. It was sleeting and snowing hard as I crossed Flatbush Ave.
First stop: health food & grocery store. Shopping list: baby spinach. Impulse buy: beef jerky.
The "All Natural Applewood Smoked Beef Jerky" looked wholesome and ecofriendly, like the beef jerky that hippies would buy. I hadn't eaten anything but an energy bar since breakfast. I was also on a cocktail of prescription drugs for a bad back, which made me spacey and hilariously clumsy.
Second stop: pet store. Shopping list: dog food. Impulse buy: dog treats.
The pet store smelled like an unclean gerbil's cage, and was not very well-run. The dog food ("Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Original Ultra" -- yes, the dad on "Eight is Enough") was missing a price tag, and the cashier had to call her boss at home to figure out how to enter it into the register. While I waited I admired the miniature puppies scrapping in the window display. They were dirty and the size of hamsters. I bought the dog treats ("New Zealand All Natural Real Meat Chicken and Venison Jerky Treats") out of boredom.
I trudged home in the ice and snow, dumped my bags on the table, and flopped facedown on the hardwood floor with some pillows. My back was aching. I had the presence of mind to grab the jerky on my way down. I was getting a little light-headed, and some dehydrated cow with extra liquid smoke sounded like just the ticket.
It was nice on the floor. My back stopped hurting. My dog Reny was all over me, licking my face and trying to get at the jerky. I was at her level and could not easily escape.
"She thinks you're eating one of her treats," my wife said.
I cautiously chewed at a piece of jerky, which had a processed taste with a weird richness, like Combos. It tasted great. But somewhere in the back of my mind, alarm bells were ringing. I glanced down absently at the bag. Time seemed to slow down. "New Zealand All Natural...." Sounds okay. "...Real Meat..." Hmmm, that's weird. "...Chicken and Venison Jerky Treats." Time briefly stopped. A realization: I am eating dog food.
I looked over at my wife. She was doubled over in laughter. I quickly adjusted to the fact that this was going to be a story that she would bring up at embarrassing moments with strangers and loved ones alike, and possibly blog about for the amusement of the entire Internet. Twenty years from now when someone Googles me, "My Husband Ate Dog Food" will be the first result.
I sighed and opened the "real" beef jerky. It was terrible. It was as hard and dry as jerky found at an archeological dig, an extinct animal cured by the Aztecs or Olmecs or something. As I chewed it splintered into ropey shards in my mouth, leaving a faint, generic meaty taste.
Reny was still inches away on the floor, gazing at me with her eyes full of want. My belly growled.
I tossed her a clod of beef jerky and reached for the dog treats.