Supermarket Specials

Yesterday the supermarket down the street from our house had five apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container with a “Today’s Special” sticker touting the nice price of $1.99.

Since the cheapest apples at this store usually go for a minimum of $1.89 a pound, my hand suctioned up this deal the way a hungry frog’s tongue curls around a fly.

You’re perhaps wondering if there was a catch to this nice price for five apples wrapped up tighter than a plastic surgeon’s $3,500 tummy tuck.

Well, heck, I’d bet a dime to a donut you know as well as I do that any produce with a “Today’s Special” sticker on its styrofoam and cellophane container probably has a problem.

And this special offer did have a problem.

You see, even though these five apples were encased upside down, I could tell one of them was a bit long in the tooth because it had wrinkles all over it; wrinkles, as you may or may not know, often being a result of too much time in cold storage. This fact, of course, holds true for apples as well as for Golden Agers Like Me Struggling to Live Sanely in Modern Times.

Speaking of my fellow Golden Agers Struggling to Live Sanely in Modern Times… no, wait, we best not venture down that twisty road today.

So, yeah, anyway, one of the five apples carried sufficient wrinkles to pass for a prune if it had been 85% smaller.

From previous experiences with reduced price produce, I knew this wouldn’t be a great apple but I also sensed that the wrinkles weren’t yet deep enough to disqualify it from consumption.

And the other four apples looked just fine.

I mean, seriously, a buck ninety-nine for five apples. Who could turn down such a deal?

So, at this point, I’m thinking… Hmm, four of the apples look like Fuji’s, but I’m not sure about this wrinkled one. It’s bigger than a Fuji and thumping it suggests crispness, but I can’t count on that satisfying solid sound since thumping on a Red Delicious often suggests crispness too, when, in reality, biting into one of them is akin to chomping down on half-cooked pork belly.

Hmm, I’m pondering, really wracking the old brain cells now, pushing my cognitive powers to the limit, what kind of apple might this be?

Still maintaining much of my mental acuity (I was having a good day!), I turned the package in multiple directions but much to my annoyance couldn’t find a little identifying sticker.

Then, whoa, revelation strikes me with the force experienced by Paul on the Road to Damascus.


Wait a second.

I think Saul traveled that road, didn’t he?

Or was it Paul?

More intense brain wracking, neurons transmitting so intensely that sparks may well be flying around in my skull box.

Finally, as my cerebral matter settles down to a crawl and finishes its fiery review of Acts 9:1-19, I recall the correct name: yes, yes, it was Saul.

Hmm, that particular name has the potential for a writing project, doesn’t it?

Maybe even a TV series?

Better call my agent.

Oops, that’s right. My agent dropped me after my second novel flopped in 1989, and I no longer have a New York representative to take 15% of any money I make from dipping into my endless river of words.

Well, so, let’s put that TV series idea on the rear burner for another day, too.

Back to identifying stickers.

I know, I know… now I have the explanation — it’s the two produce guys, and they’re dressing up their jolly times at work by messing with me again!

You see, both of the two chaps who man my local supermarket’s produce section have good senses of humor as well as perhaps traces of sadism because they far too often hide (or even remove!) the tiny identifying stickers that now mar the natural skin of most produce.

(Note: though I see some utility to planting identifying stickers on produce to help high school students who — warning: PC word change for Modern Times coming — wo(man) the scanning technology at the check-outs, the cynical old fart in me wants to know why so many young people in Modern Times can no longer tell the difference between an avocado and an artichoke. I mean, seriously, what’s being taught in homes and schools these days?)

Anyway, back to the apples entombed in the styrofoam and cellophane container. At least for now, I’ll spare you my rant about how annoying it is to have a seventeen year old grocery bagger — who looked me up and down as if I were Bob Dole drooling over Brittany Spears in that 1998 classic erectile dysfunction television commercial — ask me if I need help carrying out my order.

Containing the ex-boxer in me, the urban legend fighter who allegedly once sparred eight rounds with Pee-wee Herman, I politely reply, “Thank you, no,” the look on my face implying that I still retained sufficient physical prowess to get a single grocery bag containing five “Today’s Special” apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container and a bottle of “Easy Go” laxative out to my car without dropping it or tripping and landing on the asphalt of the parking lot and then having to push the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” button on my Life Alert bracelet.

He smirked at me.

I happily report that I didn’t respond by smacking him aside the head with the bag containing those five “Today’s Special” apples entombed in a styrofoam and cellophane container and a bottle of “Easy Go” laxative!

Yes, age does help one learn to contain oneself, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s not really true.

You see, as I ramble around in my 70’s, I find it harder and harder at times to contain myself… this narrative being a perfect example, as you’ve no doubt already noted to yourself with a long sigh and a tsk-tsk to remind yourself to write sharp prose instead of wandering rants whose destinations might well even elude upcoming AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms.

Speaking of wandering, the other day when I was having trouble finding my way home after my morning walk, I got to thinking about how hikers can use the sun and their wristwatches to determine direction and thus properly navigate their way. So I looked at the sun and then at my wrist, but, damn it, my digital watch lacked hands and was thus no help at all.

At that point, because I wasn’t watching where I was going, I almost tripped on an apple core that some fool had tossed out of his car window while driving through our neighborhood.

Ah, yes, speaking of apple cores, I did manage to find my way home from the grocery store (thanks to a technological marvel that I do admire rather than despise — a GPS system) and promptly took into the kitchen my little bag of groceries containing the “Easy Go” colon product and the five apples entombed in their styrofoam and cellophane container.

With great anticipation, I tore open the cellophane, grabbed the wrinkled apple that didn’t look like the other four nice Fuji’s, turned it right side up and found the little identifying sticker!

This was a tremendous surprise because the sticker ID-ed this apple as a PINATA.

A pinata!

What the hell?

I thought a pinata was a painted paper-mache representation of an animal or person or some other thing containing toys or candy or Mardi Gras beads or some other kind of cheap crap that kids hit with baseball bats until it broke open and they could then push and shove each other to get at the goodies. Kind of like Halloween when rabid children push doorbells until old grumps like me are ready to cut their own throats with butter knives just to get a little peace and quiet while we’re trying to watch old Lawrence Welk reruns on the Aged Fart streaming service.

But, I digress.

Back to the kitchen and the pinata apple, which I sliced with my favorite knife… ah, it sliced like a crisp apple should slice, with a firm white flesh (no, I’m not thinking about the Bob Dole commercial again), an apple flesh that suggested a terrific eating experience soon to come.

So I took a big bite out of that first nice slice.

Hmm, not bad, I thought.

Almost as good as a Fuji.

But then, alas, I noted an aftertaste that I didn’t care for.

I can’t adequately describe that taste, though gargling with Listerine mixed with garlic Hollandaise sauce comes to mind. As you no doubt know from reading the Wikipedia entry, “Hollandaise sauce, formerly also called Dutch sauce, is an emulsion of egg yolk, melted butter, water and lemon juice. It is usually seasoned with salt, and white pepper or cayenne pepper. Hollandaise is one of the five mother sauces in French cuisine.”

Anyway, I didn’t care much for the taste of the aged pinata apple.

I mean, honestly, I didn’t gag or puke or anything, but I’m not going to write home about the taste, either.

Of course I ate the entire apple because, after all, I’d paid close to 41 cents for it, and here at CasaDay, where we live on a fixed income, the still beautiful Ellen Schoenberger Day and I don’t waste 41 cents.

I mean, seriously, 41 cents goes a long way these days.

Think of all the things you can buy for 41 cents…

Hmm, the only thing I can think of are my five apples no longer entombed in their styrofoam and cellophane container.

Anyway, speaking of apples, that reminds me of the time before I fell head over heels for the lovely Ellen Schoenberger Day, a time when I dated a girl named Eve (whose father owned an orchard in Washington state) who caused me all kinds of problems… but I’ll save that story for another day.

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