Sunday, May 06, 2007

Got some catching up to do

Like it? 
You may not remember me, but I used to hang out here a lot. Almost every week or so, I'd have a column here where I made a moron of myself, embarrassed my wife in print and shared pop culture factoids for your amusement. Right in this spot I used to do that, where the Dan-shaped sweat mark still is.

Yes, it was loads of fun. Then, six months ago, I stopped writing these features because I found another job. I had to concentrate on that for a while. And I wasn't sure I'd have time to make a moron of myself or embarrass my wife in print anymore.

How wrong I was!

At the time I left, I wrote this about these features:

"I won't say it's gone for good, because you never know about these things. I could come crawling back to you, begging you to hear another of my stupid stories."

OK, trust me. I wouldn't be crawling back six months later, reintroducing myself, if I had a "stupid story" to share.

Quite the opposite, friends.

This is serious.

Um. You know Shaw's? The one up the North End?

Shaw's now has ketchup-flavored potato chips.

You heard me.

Ketchup. Flavored. P'tata chips.

Right here in Fall River.

This is probably the best thing to happen to anyone, ever.

I'm a complicated man, and no one understands me but my woman. But you can get most of the way there by knowing that (a) much of my diet consists of potato chips, (b) ketchup chips are my favorite flavor, but (c) you can’t find them around here. So that paints a nice little picture for you: saturated fat and constant disappointment.

But now there's (d): a nearby supply of my favorite snack. It's like a crack addict living next to some sort of grocery store that sells crack!

Like pelicans or college graduates, in Fall River ketchup chips are extremely rare. This is a Salt 'N' Vinegar town. But ketchup chips, those deliciously neon red slices of perfection, are better. Don’t get me wrong, though. Salt 'N' Vinegar is fine. The way a million dollars is fine compared to two million dollars.

Ketchup chips originated, as far as I know, in Canada. Snack fiends know that when it comes to potato chip flavors, Canada stands astride the rest of the world like a magnificent, ruffled colossus. And for most of my life, I could only find ketchup chips on visits to that country — visits I allegedly took, quote-unquote, "to see my relatives."

Over the years, various people would tell me that I could probably find ketchup chips in America if I looked hard enough — like out in the Midwest, or in Pennsylvania, or, if I bribed the right 7-Eleven guy, as close as Worcester. Slight problem, though. I don't live there — I live here, and I am lazy.

I eventually became used to the idea that I could only procure my salty, scrumptious crimson dainties every leap year or two. At one low point, I thought about dipping a potato chip in actual ketchup. But it seemed gross, so I didn't.

So picture my wife and I walking through Shaw's the other day. Cart's full of vegetables, and two of my other favorite foods: seltzer water and chicken. We're in the checkout line when my wife nudges me.

"Hey," she said, pointing in front of me. "It's your favorite."

I saw a display of plastic buckets and shovels, the kind kids use to make sandcastles. I had no idea what she meant by this. My wife smiled at me. It wondered wildly if maybe she had some suspicion I secretly wanted to go to the beach, collect shells, frolic in the waves. I don't. I hate the beach. Shells are boring. The water scares the hell out of me. Stingrays. Horseshoe crabs. Drowning. Rip tides. Massive offshore whirlpools. Sand in your socks. But she seemed pretty excited about it. I said, "Right. Buckets. It's true — I love them a lot."

She took my chin and pointed my face an inch to the right. There was a stack of ketchup chip crates six feet high — literally within arm's reach.

I reached my arm out and touched them. Then I took a bag — gently — and caressed it against my cheek.

I wanted a crate, but out of shame I exercised restraint and bought two bags. One bag of ketchup chips later, we pulled the car into my driveway, my fingers and knuckles stained red, ketchup powder dusting my jeans and hair. My wife carried in the groceries. I brought in the second bag. I didn't trust her with it.

"We should save this bag," I said, rubbing ketchup flavor into my beard. "In case I wake up in the middle of the night and want some ketchup chips and my car has four flats and I can't drive to Shaw's. Or if the guy who drives the ketchup chip delivery truck is late to the store next week — or he eats them all himself!" Just the thought made my stomach flip. "I hate that guy! But I love him, too. It’s complicated."

"I'm sure he's a nice guy," my wife said.

Then she looked at me. I had my arm buried to the elbow in the second bag and was stuffing a fistful into my yawning, red mouth.

"Dude?" she said.

Long story short, the second bag's history. That was two days ago. I haven't been to Shaw's since.

I'm honestly scared they might not have them anymore. Like it was some crazy experiment they'll never try again.

So here’s why I came back to write this column.

You — yes, you — need to go to Shaw's right now and buy some ketchup chips.

For one thing, they're delicious. You'll thank me later. For another, Shaw's won't stock them anymore if I'm the only person who buys them.

And then they'll be gone.


What'll happen to me then? I'll go to Shaw's one day and see an empty display of ketchup chip crates and grab the nearest person by the lapels and say, "Where'd the damn ketchup chips go?" And the poor Shaw's lady I have by the throat will say, "Aw, nobody bought them things except some mentalcase who—" And then she'll stop herself, because she'll realize who she's talking to.

So please, if, like, 14 or 15 of you out there could get together and please buy some ketchup chips so Shaw's keeps them in stock for me, that'd be a real big favor.

But don't get greedy about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your precious ketchup chips can be found at the Dollar Tree in Swansea, MA. I recently bought a bag myself and they were delicious.


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