A low gurgle escapes out of my open mouth, along with a hearty, grizzly bear-esque yawn. The clock reads quarter to seven, but that clock has been stopped for days and is rarely correct anymore. Although unsure about how long I slept, one thing’s for sure: I need Crunch Berries.
I scour the apartment, but to no avail. I’m aching for those sweet, sweet berries and grinding my teeth like the berry junkie I am at the mere thought of packing up a nice, fat bowl of that tasty goodness.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Fate knocks but once, and I realize it’s time to go. I grab my bathrobe, the apartment’s “casual” merkin, and my wallet, which, in reality, is a sandwich bag filled with crumpled bills and coins. In twenty seconds, I’m out the door on my sidewalk surfboard.
I power-saunter into the first set of automatic doors, through the airlock, and then pass through a second set of automatic doors into the grocery store. The airlock seems necessary; otherwise the rank odor of that bag lady’s foul jowl sweat that’s entwined with the rancid fragrance of rotting food could escape and stink up a little neighborhood that I’m quite fond of called Planet Earth.
Not used to buying food from places that aren’t convenience stores or gas stations, I’m overwhelmed. You’d think I’d have been here when I had bought my Crunch Berries originally, but no. Up to this moment in my life, every box of Crunch Berries I had eaten had either been given to me as a present or had been left to me through the last will and testament of dead relatives.
The cereal aisle was looking flush with a United Nations of breakfast sorts. It’s moments like this that make me especially swell up with patriotism. Unfortunately, as I neared the cereals beginning with “Captain”, I realized that there was but one box of Crunch Berries left and a little girl was Jack Reaching for it.
An involuntary grunt came out of my mouth, like that of a wild boar ready to eat, mate, or furiously nap. I lunged for the box of Crunch Berries while the tiny female simultaneously grabbed it. Now that this box was up for debate, the girl’s father stepped in and also took hold of the prize.
“Alright, Rummy, it’s her birthday and she wants Crunch Berries so just let it go.”
“Rummy?” I thought to myself. I’m not drunk, I’m not a card game played by old ladies trying to kill time before they die, and I’m certainly not the former Secretary of Defense. At this point the little girl had cowered, along with her mother, behind her father and a rack of Nabisco cookies. Surely, even it was her birthday, which she had yet to verify, there I stood, not her, locked in tussle over a box of Crunch Berries.
I tried to explain that I really wanted these Crunch Berries, but he wouldn’t listen. I knew I wanted it more. The moment intensified and Little Miss Birthday Boo-Hoos started the waterworks. From there her father tapped into his reserves of pent up aggression, leftover, I’m assuming, from raising a child instead of doing what he wanted to do with his life.
His nostrils flared. He clenched his jaw. I could tell right then that was the incident he decided to take a stand on, you know, just to make sure that he is at least still in control of something in his life. I’m sorry, pal, I realize you’re going through a thing here, but, buddy, this is your Waterloo.
I released my grip and dropped my hands to my sides. Overly proud and a little surprised it hadn’t escalated, the dad took the box into both hands and admired it, like it was a trophy won through years of hard work and dedication.
There’s a reason pride is one of the seven deadly sins.
As he took that brief second to revel in his apparent victory, I took a swift step forward and knocked the box out of his hands onto the floor where I quickly scooped it up and bolted the other way down the aisle.
Enraged, he chased after me. From the looks of him he appeared to have been an athlete at one point in some very distant life that he was desperate to cling to. I rounded the corner, my bare feet gripping the linoleum like a rally car gripping a tight turn.
As he took the turn, his clumsy, dad loafers skidded across the floor as he lost his balance and slid into a table full of ice cream samples.
“Stay cool, dude,” I catch-phrased back to him while he shook his fist in disdain and then put, what I can only assume to be, a cyanide tablet in his mouth.
I hurdled a seeing-eye-dog. I didn’t need to; a couple was holding the man and his dog out of my path already, but, really, I just wanted to see if I could do it.
I tore into an open checkout lane and jumped into a slide down the rail of the conveyor belt. The cashier, oblivious and caring exactly as much as someone who is paid eight dollars an hour should care, took my exact change as I finished coasting down the railing before snapping her gum in a way that said “I had no idea I’d be this aroused at work today.” Don’t sleep on the champ, sweet cheeks.
I sprinted out the door and hopped onto my skateboard like I was some sort of cereal-obsessed Marty McFly. Huey Lewis And The News could have played over the scene: me valiantly riding away on my skateboard, Crunch Berries in tow, and that bitter little birthday bitch having to settle for those non-boxed, generic Crunch Berries that come in bags, like they’re weird milk in Canada.