What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Shell Fish Story All About Me

While I was eating dinner tonight I had a sort of existential thought. Amanda and I had prepared one of those Bertolli bags of pasta for two. We really like those little bags. They are very tasty and allow us an easy dinner without anything left over that doesn't ever get eaten anyway. Just sits in the fridge until one of us decides it's disgusting enough to throw out. I finished my portion, and as is our usual fashion, Amanda handed me what she couldn't eat. Suppose we had too much bread. As I am a human garbage disposal, I had no problem finishing it off.

The sauce was a creamy cheese/tomato sauce the color yellow. I had no more bread for sopping and did not want to waste this tasty sauce. As I was alone at home and not confined to the typical rules of decorum of a public restaurant, I decided it was more than within my rights and abilities to begin licking the plate clean. I had not shaved since Thursday, so ensuring my chin of prickles didn't graze the gooey goodness, I commenced my inauguration as President, nay emperor extraordinaire of the Clean Plate Club. I had relieved the entire porcelain disk of any excess sauce save for one little triangle shaped portion of the plate that had miraculously been preserved. It happened to be the exact width of my tongue and so I went in to rectify the situation with one fail swoop. Alas, the plate was clean, I was full and...and...What was this? There was something in my mouth that did not appear to be pasta sauce at all. Was it a spare piece of asparagus or shrimp that had been neglected earlier during the main event? No, it was textured like an asparagus or a shrimp. Or at least the edible part of the shrimp. I pulled out of my mouth what seemed to be the shell of a shrimp that had not been peeled away properly. I put it on the plate and moved to the kitchen to begin the dishes.

As I concluded the dinner portion of the evening I began to think about this rogue shampoo shell. I began to think about the process by which a company like brutally would shell the shrimp that went into their frozen dinners for two. I wondered if the shrimp were shelled by hand or if done by a machine. It would seem to me that doing such a tedious thing by hand would be extremely costly in man hours. I could just see hundreds of women (I don't know why I only see women, but I do. I'm thinking Les Miserables) working at a table of shrimp for hours shelling and tossing. Shelling and tossing. Shelling and tossing. Surely such primitive methods for shelling had been done away with at some point in the last fifty to one-hundred years. After all, they have millions of shrimp to shell. When I shell just 12 it might take me 15 minutes. Of course I'm not a professional. (By the way, why is uncooked, unshelled shrimp more expensive at the store than shelled, precooked shrimp.)

Then I started thinking about Bertolli's business integrity and that they probably wouldn't have liked that even one shell made it into one of their frozen bags and consequently into my mouth. I wonder if I would get a refund if I called them. That's not my kind of thing to do, after all the most harm it did was cause my readers to be subjected to mindless dribble.

What I mainly started thinking about was coincidence and fate. I did not find that shell until the very last bit of sauce. Not to mention that I was partaking in the dreg of my wife's meal because I'm a shameless pig. Why was it that, of the entire bag of pasta only that one little square inch of pasta sauce contained a shell that likely only resided in one out of every five bags at the most. I am guessing this figure based on our previous purchases and consumption of brutally products. Why was I destined to find this shell? Did the previous owner of the shell make it into my bag of pasta or another. Was the shrimp from whose back my shell was peeled even part of the Bertolli family or had the journey taken the shell from the peeling machine/lady to a truck that took the shell miles away to the Bertolli company, perhaps on the back of another shrimp. Was the original shrimp then shipped to a different company and perhaps some celebrity in Hollywood is eating it right now as a part of an expensive dinner at a posh L.A. restaurant? Or maybe a drunk Girls Gone Wild chick is puking the shell's original wearer out after having partied way to hard on Burban Street in New Orleans. Her girlfriends told her not to order the gumbo, but you're not in he French Quarter every day, you know.

So, who am I, through this seemingly inconsequential shrimp shell connected to? It made me start thinking about people and how we are all connected on an even larger scale than frozen foods. We are all a part of the universe and of the human race and in acknowleging that we can be at greater peace. A person can kill his or her own brother, but somehow it's considered more of a sin and more taboo than killing a stranger. Maybe if we considered everyone our brother most of us would be incapable of killing at all. Wars would be diminished and suffering would die out. Who among us would not take in our brother or sister if we found them lying in the cold, hungry and sick?

As we passed the men and women of Houston's homeless community today on my walk from my parking spot to the Astros game Amanda turned to me and said, "That's sad." I just said "yeah." and I kept walking. Not that I can cure the world, but maybe if we were all as interested in helping the poor, who are our brothers and sisters, as we are in seeing our sports team win we could make a much bigger dent in the lives of those who suffer under the bridges and on the sidewalks.

By the way, when they ask me if the Astros won and I let them in on the end result, they glow with delight or playful disappointment, depending on the outcome, just as any fan. Well, there's another connection.


Jason said...

So a random piece of shell that most people would either ignore or simply by mildly annoyed by caused you to ascend to a social commentary about the homeless of Houston? That's an amazing quality about you, Kyle. The mundance becomes profound, and the routine becomes extraordinary.

I too have felt a strong pull to action as I've walked back to the car in my jersey and cap, often with Aidan in tow. I can't shake the adolescent, justice-perspective mantra, "Something must be done!" Had this been 5-10 years ago, I probably would have looked into doing something. Even if I never followed through, I would have felt better about it, even if I didn't enact any real change. I've become cynical, though. I have a harder time convincing myself that any reasonable action that I take would have any real effect. The homeless of America need so much, and I have simply lost track of a good starting point. I think this is what they call, "liberal guilt". I feel horrible about the conditions that my fellow humans live in and the opportunities that no one will afford them, but the problem seems so big and intimidating that I don't feel that I can do anything. I feel paralyzed. So I just let my "liberal guilt" fester.

At least when we had a Democrat in the White House, I felt that SOMEONE was acting as an advocate of the silent, powerless masses.

marcus said...

conservatives feel those same pangs. we're not all cold and heartless.