Fat chance they sell molcajetes
I wonder whether I've become too angry. Then I squelch my wonder for fear that I can't help it, anyway. Why ponder what one can't change? Oh, for the power to choose those things that enrage or delight us!
I love homemade salsa. I'm still searching for the perfect recipe. Although I've made some whiz-bang salsas, I have yet to unlock the perfect combination of vegetables, spices and blending technique. My salsas are always good -- not great. But I'm getting closer. Salsa is a strange and magical food. When you nail it, as a few local restaurants do, it's the most delicious dish on the planet – particularly odd when one remembers it's composed of vegetables, a notoriously unsatisfying and often disgusting food group. Barring salsa, I haven't eaten a vegetable since I was 12, and then only under protest. But I never met a salsa I didn't like.
I recently learned about an ancient food processing tool called a molcajete. It's a mortar and pestle made of ceramic, marble or lava rock. Its two components are a large, rugged bowl standing on 3 legs, and a blunt club for pulverizing foodstuff. Cooks process herbs and spices in them, or mix sauces and pesto. Salsas, too, are a traditional food whipped up in the molcajete. Legend has it molcajetes make the best salsas because they release the flavors of the peppers in a way food processors can't. We'll see.
What does the above have to do with anger? I'm glad you asked. I had to buy a molcajete, which brought me to the local Crate & Barrel, where one can find novel kitchen items. Anxious to learn whether I would find a molcajete, I burst through the entrance. To my horror, I see a tall, pear-shaped fat man hobbling with a cane and clogging the aisle. Imagine Paul Bunyan aged another 30 years and having swallowed his ox whole. Bingo.
The reader should know the store files patrons through an “in” and “out” aisle. So I can't sidestep this gimpy rhinoceros and get along with my shopping. I have to deal with him. By now I observed him moving at roughly the speed of moss and with the nimbleness of an anesthetized koala bear. Aw, jeez! I'll never get by! Even when I do, I'll be bouncing into this behemoth for the length of my visit. God forbid I have to double back to the stoneware section or something. I'll need a springboard, rocket boots and a climbing pick to scale over him. Jesus, you're fat!
See all the anger, above? Please know I was as appalled as you at my internal dialogue. Yikes, that's harsh! I had a moment of clarity just then in the Crate & Barrel. I observed myself hating on this guy, fantasizing the number of ways I'd assail him, saying a little prayer asking God to condemn him to hell (which for him would surely be a grocery store devoid of Hostess products). Suddenly I wanted to punch myself in the face. What had I become? What gave rise to my rage? Why am I such an impatient jerk? Why am I so angry at this?
Just as the self-awareness struck, I dissected my thoughts: It's unfair. I feel cheated somehow. His very presence is an imposition... But that imposition was really just 10 or 15 seconds of my time until he waddled this way or that, and I could pass. Fifteen seconds? How could that matter? It's trivial. After all, I had the day off. I needed to kill some time. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful store. I might just as easily have yielded 15 seconds to the food sample clerk or the lovely recipe book display. So if not the brief time he threatened to steal from me, then what?
It had to be the moral implications of being fat. Somehow, indulging his appetite to the point where he became a human barricade – that offended me. I don't begrudge a man a few extra pounds. But how dare he grow so big that he clogs a thoroughfare? That's the precise moment a fat person becomes offensive – when he blocks your passage. Take stock of yourself. You're blocking passersby. You're a one-man fire code violation. Stop being so complacent and bow your head in shame, you blimp.
Here's the rub. I don't want to be that angry. I don't want to be a cauldron of hate that boils over at the slightest offense. Instead, I want to be one of those a-holes with the “Life's a Beach” t-shirt and the live-and-let-live attitude. On second thought, fuck that guy. But still, I don't want to hate obese, wayward shoppers! The fat guy's only crimes were bumping Pizza Hut's stock a few points and having the metabolism of a zygote. I should let it go, right?
I would, but I just don't know how to change. How do you stop anger from getting the best of you? It sure as hell isn't positive thinking. I've tried that stuff and it just pisses me off. Once I caught myself getting angry in a traffic jam. So I went to the positive thinking. “LBB, aren't you glad you weren't one of the unfortunate people involved in the accident ahead. You're lucky that for you, it's just a delay and not something more serious...” “Bullshit! These Stevie Wonders cost me 20 minutes because they don't know how to drive. I'd better see a torso in the ditch!”
You see? Positive thinking failed me. My negativity only redoubles its efforts and squashes the positive thinking. Plus I hate myself a little bit for being disingenuous. So now I'm worse than when I started Thanks a lot, positive thinking. I knew you wouldn't work!
Back to the anger and its causes. I think it's evolutionary. Hating pathetic people is encoded in our genes. Elsewhere in the animal kingdom, stuff like this happens. I've watched it on the Discovery Channel. Chimpanzees and lions will ostracize or even attack one of their own kind should he exhibit a conspicuous flaw like a crooked tail or a deformed appendage. It's Mother Nature's way of purifying the gene pool – or at least for filtering out the fat guy in the Speedo wading around in it. We've retained the millions-of-years old instinct to eliminate the weak before they bring harm to the herd. It may be in our higher nature to accept and love those with genetic anomalies, but our primitive brains invoke the emotional circuitry of hostility. And so it is that I could feel two opposing emotions for the fat guy: antipathy and compassion (yes, I left the store feeling compassion for the fat guy once I calmed down). I also felt concerned about my mental well-being, what with the glaring anger issue. But neither sentiment lasted long. It turns out the Crate & Barrel had molcajetes! I was off to the neighboring grocer to buy fresh vegetable for my salsa sublime. Incidentally, it turned out to be the best salsa I've ever made. Thanks for not eating all the vegetables before I got there, fat guy!