What is it with old geezers who seem to think they, and the rest of us, have all the time in the world when they dodder over to the grocery store. And puhleeze, don’t get on your high horses about the dignity of our elders and how MJE should be respectful. First off, have these fossils looked in a mirror lately? The grim reaper doesn’t take a number at the deli counter my friends. We’ve all been at the mercy of geriatrics who stand in the lunch meat line clutching their paper numbers, peering into the case with an intensity usually reserved for members of the bomb disposal squad trying to figure out which wire to clip. Even after reaching the head of the line they remain maddeningly indecisive, weighing the relative merits of olive loaf vs hogs head cheese, liverwurst vs bologna, etc. At long last they cautiously settle on a preference. Then the weary hair netted clerk embarks upon the hunt for the buyer’s selection, rummaging half heartedly among logs of salami, hunks of ham and slabs of pastrami. However, more often than not, the selected item cannot be found and the clerk shuffles off into the meat locker for the remainder of his shift.
A new meat monger eventually appears on the scene and the entire process begins anew. Finally, we reach the point where a choice has been finalized, and we enter into phase two of the process. The all important taste test. I may be overly suspicious but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the pensioner’s first rodeo in the cold cut corral. And I will further surmise that he or she has a pretty good idea what that slice of compressed meat tastes like. Yet one can’t be too sure, so a tranche is gently laid upon a square of wax paper and offered to the potential buyer like the krupp diamond upon a velvet pillow. It gets a good once over, a sniff and then is masticated slowly and deliberately. Our senior gives the appearance of a master sommelier thoughtfully pinpointing the terroir of a fine vintage, assessing the bouquet and savoring fruit forward notes of cherry or kombucha followed by a clean mineral finish. The buyer hesitates, the throng in line behind him shuffles restlessly, hopeful for a swift and positive judgment; he hesitates, then offers a nod of approval. The crowd goes wild! No it doesn’t because by now all of the other geezers in line have had to dash off in search of the bathroom.
However there is one final hurdle: the intensely subjective preferred proportions of the slice. The deli meister carves a sliver and holds it up for approval. If it should get a thumbs up, then the full order of 1/16 of a pound will slide over the counter, however should it receive a thumbs down, off the scrap goes into the trash bin. And it often takes several attempts before the ideal slice is achieved, with each imperfect pass tossed onto the garbage heap.
For god’s sake america, half of ethiopia could subsist for weeks or even months on one grocery’s single day’s cast off bits of deli meat. But then those poor people would all develop hypertension and high cholesterol and drop dead of stroke or heart attack before they had a chance to starve to death.