Nabisco Premium Saltines with Unsalted Tops, to be precise.
Where did they go?
Was there an explosion at the Nabisco factory where only the Unsalted Tops production line got melted to slag?
Is there a huge underground market for Unsalted Top Saltines? Are they some sort of delicacy for newly liberated pot smokers in California?
Was there a toxic batch of “unsalt” which made them all get recalled?
I don’t know the answer, but it’s been three weeks and four different markets and I can’t find the Nabisco Premium Saltines with Unsalted Tops to save my life. Nada. Zip.
They all have the regular Saltines, mind you. Lots of them! In two of the stores I actually found the spot on the shelves where the Unsalted Tops were supposed to be, but that shelf space was filled to overflowing with the Regular Saltines.
I tried to call Nabisco to raise the alert, sound the alarm, raise a ruckus. Nothing. No comment. (This might be related to the fact that I was calling at about 22:00 on a Sunday evening and they’re only open 9 to 6, Monday through Friday, but I’m trying to go on a conspiratorial rant here!)
The one Ralph’s superstore did have the Kroger brand unsalted tops crackers – bleh!! I’ve tried them before. They’re one of the key reasons that “house brand” gets such a bad reputation.
[LATE EDIT] – After writing most of this last night, tonight on my way home I found them in a local, non-chain, mom-and-pop style grocery store. Our long, national nightmare is over!
Or maybe… Maybe that’s just what they want us to think…
The anger sneaks up on you. You think you’re over it, living back in your head instead of your gut. Then in a flash, you’re back in the fire, wanting to set all the bridges ablaze and laugh while you watch them go up.
You don’t, of course. (“This time,” the little voice whispers.) You know how horrible the consequences would be.
But the anger’s like acid, wearing away at the walls of your self-restraint and decades of congealed adultiness.
Which will happen first? Will you find a solution and temper the flames? Or will the anger find a chink that leads to a crack which widens to a fissure which leads to your “responsible as-if” personality cracking like an eggshell with an M-80 inside?
So you breathe. You listen to the Brandenburg Concertos. You calm down. You watch videos of the Falcon Heavy launch. You adult.
And you wait.
Well, not “us” exactly, not in the “us = this household” sense. In that definition, no, we don’t know how to party. We’re dull as two-day old dishwater. But if you mean our neighbors here in the West San Fernando Valley, well then, party on!
At least, one of “us.”
Because of some major sporting event today, the grocery store was as crowded as I’ve seen it outside of maybe Thanksgiving morning. So I had some time while waiting in line to observe my fellow citizens.
Next to us in the “15 items or less” aisle was a couple. Not exactly dressed for church on a Sunday morning, but who am I to judge? It wasn’t their choice of attire that caught my attention however. It was what they had in their shopping cart.
- A four-pack of bargain toilet paper.
- A half-gallon of the expensive, name brand drinking water.
- One cucumber
I’m not one to be jumping to conclusions or looking down on my fellow man, particularly on a Sunday morning in the checkout aisle. But I do give my brain free rein to wonder about the universe around me, and I had to wonder about those facts.
What set of circumstances leads a couple, not just one of them or the other, but a couple together to get dressed and come to the big grocery store, not the convenience market or 7-11, to get those three items?
If you’re going for the premium drinking water, why the bargain toilet paper? Or vice versa.
And the one cucumber?
The mind boggles.
Springfield, Vermont (probably 1969, might be 1970)
(Ice and cold – could it be coming up on fifty years. This was a time of cold and isolation, everything symbolized by ice and snow, black and white with dirty grey everywhere in between. But there’s that one spot of color – green means go. And with time this world melted and warmed into a place quite beloved in my memory. I survived, as did this grainy, flawed slide, somehow now echoing across the decades. Ice and cold again now, inside if not always out, looking again for that spot of color and a way to hang on and get through. Spring is coming.
But for now it’s only the end of January.)
Perception. It’s a funny thing.
I liked this picture on the phone, but couldn’t figure out to save my life what the snippet of writing was or any of the other forms. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much for this post.
Then, just before hitting “Publish,” one element goes “SNAP!” in my brain, recognizable despite the aspect change, color change, spin away from the horizontal. Like lightning dominoes the pieces fell into position.
The brain is weird.
Which is frustrating when I’m trying to be witty and wicked and clever and deep and urbane and wise.
These days, however, the bar for being a madman is shifting around so quickly, it’s tough to keep track of.
As I said to someone the other day, I had always hoped that when the hallucinations overtook me they would be more entertaining than this! I wanted Escher or Willy Wonka or Dali. Even Jackson Pollock.
Instead it’s work here, stress there, work AND stress there, and a government that more and more resembles a Three Stooges movie.
My apologies to the Three Stooges. They were far, FAR more organized and sane than our current government.
The point being that I’ve worked hard for my collapse, I’m tired of waiting for it, and when it gets here I want it to be entertaining, not boring and scary.
My fellow Americans – we deserve a better class of nervous breakdown!
…it’s that whole, “If you can’t say something nice, shut up!” thing.
When this is piled on top of that and it’s all wrapped up in oodles of some other crisis with a bit of panic-inducing whatever it is sprinkled on for spice, it’s easy to just scream until you run out of air.
But that doesn’t accomplish much. It probably won’t even help you release tension. Feels like more of a positive feedback loop, the adult version of letting a baby cry itself to sleep. (Wait, I can get to sleep if I do that?)
I think it was somewhere in Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” that I heard a description of the ideal test pilot on a flight where EVERYTHING is going wrong and a horrible, fiery, painful death is just seconds away. The guys with the right stuff never had a change in their tone of voice. To try to save the day (and live) they would try “plan A” – that didn’t work – “plan B” – that didn’t work – “plan C” – nope – moving on to “plan D” – nothing – next we’ll try…
Never any panic. Just trying to figure out what the next step was as efficiently and quickly as possible before either fixed it and saved your ass or you were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash.
That’s what it is that causes the screaming. Panic is not knowing what the next step is, or not being able to take that step, or just lashing out blindly in the hope that something you might do completely randomly and unpredictably will turn out to be the one in a million thing that works.
We’re not there yet. Still trying to keep working through that alphabet of plans. Still trying to keep that tone of voice in that flat, steady, West Texas drawl.
But I am starting to worry that the smoking hole in the desert is getting close. For all of us.