Some days, you just gotta get your funk on! So, of course, you go to your local specialty cheese store. If you are feeling blue, have they got the cheese for you!
I recently explored the highly-select, curdled delicacies of The Cheese Lady. This particular gouda merchant has been in business for over five years within walking distance of where I work. I have never been to such a specialized store since I visited the short-lived “Get Oiled” lubricant emporium at a nearby mall.*That establishment overestimated a beer-drinking town’s appetites for strictly olive-oil based tastes. Fortunately, cheese goes magnificently with beer. So, against the economic odds, The Cheese Lady is thriving.
You wouldn’t think you’d find someone willing to pay $28.00 per pound for a cheese.** But, if you casually drop into the conversation that you are a blogger, apparently they are willing to break out the 15-year-old, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, to dazzle your senses.
I was given several different samples to try–like many addictive substances, the first taste is free. My personal favorite was a strong cheddar with a soft name: Prairie Breeze Cheddar. If you go to their site, you can read the details–or misread them as I did–and learn that this cheese is made by milking the Mennonite Amish in Iowa. I hope it isn’t a painful process, but even if it is, it is certainly worth the price for the pleasure. (I’m sure there is a bondage joke somewhere straining to break free in that sentence.)
Prairie Breeze has the bite of a 10-year aging process and the crystallization that makes each nibble a squeaky pleasure against the back of the teeth and palate. It is also made of vegetarian rennet – in case you are squeamish about abusing animals for your taste buds but not enough to eschew cheese consumption entirely.
I’m a bit of a foodie, I know a hard Italian can be found beyond the covers of a romance novel.***But this place had names for cheese I’ve never heard of. I’m scanning the wall of exotica and I point to one that just screams to be tasted, which is how I ended up the victim of what has to be a practical joke cheese.
If you have a penchant for the pungent, you may want to give it a try. (Or, if you are a wicked prankster and have a cheese-loving victim in mind…) Sample the Red Witch. She’s to die for. Be warned, I had to spit the offending Wiccan out of my mouth because it went past my ‘blue cheese’ tolerance levels into a zone I gaspingly describe as “People Actually Eat This?” It is definitely an acquired taste. It was also created for a specific event so it’s a limited ‘pleasure’ to be had before it’s gone, gone, gone.****
You don’t need a special occasion to stop by. However, it’s a great location to throw together a one-of-a-kind gift. The store sells decorative baskets so you can pull together your sundry delights. There are cheeses galore and more–gourmet items you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. There were some gorgeous, if pricey, clay sculptures, cheese boards and other sundry specialties to round out your gift giving. Crackers, jams, and dried fruit combos abound. It is definitely a store for the upper market, but, even an everyday person like me can drop a few dollars or sample for free the forbidden fruits of years of cheese making tradition. I missed out on the dessert cheeses this time around. I plan next to hit the blueberry stilton and tantalizing-sounding cranberry wensleydale–in honor of my favorite British duo: Wallace and Gromit.
I may even beg a little mango ginger or lemon stilton while I’m at it. I am not above groveling. For cheese is a pleasure one should not deny oneself. It is a gift from the moldy gods! And there’s nothing funky about that!
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*Not the real name of the establishment, I’m saving their dignity. I entered “Get Oiled” in wonder a few years ago honestly expecting someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise!” revealing it to be a giant hoax. The next time I visited the mall, it was no longer there. Perhaps it was a Potemkin Olive Oil Village?
**You’d be wrong. *nibbles 1-ounce purchase*
***I’m looking at you, Fabio!
****While eating the Red Witch, I highly recommend you gasp, “I’m melting, I’m melting,” before sinking to the floor in a collapse, just to add authenticity to the experience.
Life is funny. And tragic. Sometimes it’s both. But mostly, it’s a fight to the finish.
Bathos Theater in Conjunction with the Below-the-Belt Boxing Federation Presents:
“A Low Blow”
Announcer: “In this corner, weighing it at 8000 pounds pressure per square inch, the reigning champion: LIFE!*
[LIFE bounces around in the corner wearing hardened leather gloves. Shiny, red satin shorts jiggle as the mammoth boxer warms up.]
Announcer: And in this corner, weighing it at… (looks down at card)… None-Of-Your-G.D.-Business, and facing the wrong way: The Czarrrrina of Pain!*
[Czarina looks down at pink Hello Kitty boxing gloves with perplexed bewilderment.]
Kiri-Czar: “Hey… there’s been some kind of mistake here.”
[Announcer walks to center ring, dragging reluctant Czarina along with him and holding a hand up to stop LIFE from plowing right over her before the bell rings.]
Announcer: (grabs dangling mic) “This fight will go ten rounds until one of the fighters is knocked out or their manager throws in a towel.”
Kiri-Czar: (looks frantically around) “Where’s a towel? Wait…where’s my manager? Somebody get me a manager…or a towel!”
Announcer: “Are you ready to RumbbbbbbbbBBBBBLLLLlleee?”
LIFE: (snorts like bull, nostrils flare) “AaaROOOOOoooooOOOOOO!”
[Bell Rings *DING*]
Kiri-Czar: (holds up Hello Kitty clad hands) “Wait! You wouldn’t hit a girl with glasses, would you?”
LIFE: (swings) “Snarl!”
Kiri-Czar: (ducks frantically) “I guess you would.”
[The next five minutes are a slap-stick routine where the Czarina runs around the ring trying to hide behind an annoyed announcer while LIFE tries to pin her to the ropes. Brace yourself, sports analogies are not her forte.]
LIFE: (growls, dances back and forth) “Stop running away!”
Kiri-Czar: “Stop chasing me!”
[The Czarina grabs an oar from an audience member and WHACKS! LIFE over the head with it! LIFE shakes head as tiny yellow birds tweet in a circle around LIFE’s head.**]
LIFE: “Oh, so that’s how you wanna play it?” (grabs tweety bird, throws it at Czarina) “I whip the bird at you then!”
Kiri-Czar: (ducks bird) “That’s not how you whip someone the bird…” (tries to whip bird…stares at boxing glove) “Oh…right.”
[The Czarina raises the oar once again as LIFE stomps toward her. She swings. Misses. LIFE snatches oar with dismissive snort.]
LIFE: (breaks oar over knee) “You can run…but you can’t hide!”
Kiri-Czar (eyes announcer): “What happened to Three Mississippi?”
Announcer: “If I don’t count…LIFE gets to come over and stomp you until you get up again…”
Kiri-Czar: “What kind of crooked game is this?”
Announcer: “It’s the game of LIFE. Two-and-three-quarters Mississippi.”
Kiri-Czar: (scrambles upright) “Does that mean LIFE always wins?”
Announcer: “It means, no matter how you play, sometimes, you gotta lose.”
Kiri-Czar: “Well that’s just great.”
LIFE: (charges) “ROAAAARRRRRR!”
[Czarina drops to her knees and crawls through LIFE’s legs.]
LIFE: “Get back here punny human!”
Kiri-Czar: (stops to correct LIFE’s spelling): “I think you mean ‘Puny!’ ‘Punny’ would be like if I said I would called you a banana…except you have no appeal!”
LIFE: “PUN THIS!”
[LIFE lands a sharp jab—a sweet kiss to the Czarina’s glass jaw.]
Kiri-Czar: (staggers back, one drunken blue bird whizzing before her eyes) “Now, that’s a bird of a different color!”***
LIFE: (Feints left, crosses right) “That was a play on words. Not a pun!”
[SMACK, SMACK, KA-POW! THUD.]
[Announcer looms over Czarina, counting while LIFE gloats.]
LIFE: “Just for that, your son gets chronic constipation and an addiction to popcorn.”
Kiri-Czar: (aghast) “Noooooo!”
LIFE: “Plus you have to give him this medicine for three days until he goes ‘Pop!’”
Kiri-Czar: “Don’t you mean poop?”
LIFE: (*evil smile*): “You’ll see.”
Announcer: (wheezing) “Two and ninety-nine-one hundredths Mississippi…”
Kiri-Czar: (staggers to feet) “That’s it. Go ahead. Pick on the little guy!”
[Wildly swinging, the Czarina advances throwing haymakers as she goes. She lands a glancing blow to LIFE’s bread basket.]
Kiri-Czar: “How do you like that, you…you big bazooka?”
LIFE: “Do you mean ‘Palooka?’”
[Czarina continues to piffle away at LIFE throwing more dope than rope. LIFE holds her off with one leather glove pushing against her sweaty forehead.]
Kiri-Czar: (winds up and swings): “Whatever! I’ve had it. I go canoeing. I go camping. And wherever I go, I get no peace. There is always this counter attack waiting to knock me down, every damned time I step in the ring. I’m beginning to feel like a punching bag. When am I gonna get a break?”
LIFE: “You want a break?”
Kiri-Czar: (Hello Kitty balled fists on hips) “Yes. Yes I do!”
LIFE: (shrugs) “Okay. If you say so.”
Announcer: (bellows into mic) “LIFE feints left and then crosses with a right hook to the head. Czarina’s glasses go flying. She’s blind now, ducking a barrage of punches. Hello Kitty gloves are no defense against LIFE. LIFE isn’t pulling it’s punches anymore. LIFE delivers a damaging blow to the kidneys. The injustice! There’s no Marquess of Queensberry here, folks! Next, the Czarina dodges a jab only to walk straight into an uppercut. Oooh, the Czarina’s on the ropes. The blows are pounding her like hail on a Kansas wheat field. LIFE is raining down. Rain is raining down. LIFE switches to KickBoxing and the Czarina takes a roundhouse to the noggin. The Czarina’s on the ground. She’s taken a beating, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think she’ll be back up again for quite some time. I’m calling this fight. The Winner by KO and Ultimate Fight Champion of the World is…LIFE.”
[LIFE dances around the ring, both arms raised, pumping the air in victory. Stops to stand over the inert form of the Czarina sprawled on the floor. In the distance, the final bell *DINGS*.]
LIFE: (shouts) “Get the cutman…we’ve got a bleeder!”
[The crowd departs, LIFE raised on its shoulders. The loser is left in a pile on the floor, the white towel of surrender shrouding her face.]
Cutman: “C’mon, let’s get you patched up.”
Kiri-Czar: (wakes confused) “What…what happened?”
Cutman: “It’s 3:00 A.M. LIFE dropped a tree on your house and took out your electricity. Your kid is on the power laxatives for two more days. You get to stay home and wait for the shit to stop pouring in.”
Kiri-Czar: (jaw drops) “WHAAAAAT? You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
Cutman: “You asked for a break from the routine chaos, right? You were tired of everything you’ve been dealing with, yeah?”
Kiri-Czar: “Uh…yeah. But, I didn’t ask for…” (looks around, gestures to the dark and utter chaos)… “THIS!”
Cutman: “LIFE’s tricky that way. You asked for a ‘break’…it gives you a ‘break.’” (points to tree on roof, shakes head) “You just gotta be grateful it wasn’t your leg! Or worse.”
Kiri-Czar: (holds ice to black eye) “Right…just, ask LIFE…no more breaks for me for a while, okay? Please?”
Cutman: (packing up gauze, tosses loose pinecone to the Czarina) “I can’t make any promises. But let’s agree…we won’t be complaining about ordinary LIFE so much after this, right? That’s what LIFE gives you…perspective. It can always be worse.”
Kiri-Czar: (raises pinecone in disbelief) “If life gives you lemons…you make lemonade. What’re you supposed to make with pinecones?”
Cutman: (looks around and the devastation/deforestation) “I don’t know…Pińa Coladas, maybe?”
Kiri-Czar: (wincing) “Ugh…what a terrible pun.”
[With a flourish, the Cutman whips off the surgical mask revealing the grinning face of LIFE.]
LIFE: (taps Czarina gently on the chin] “Nuh Uh! It’s a playon words, not a pun! I think someone’s had just enough PUN-ishment for one day.”
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*Or, as my friend put it when she heard the news: “You’re some kind of shit magnet, you know that?”
**LIFE looks a bit like the HULK and MR. CLEAN had an angry, bilious baby.
***Look, coming up with sports-related puns was definitely not in my wheelhouse. And, even if it were, someone would probably drop a tree on it.
You’ve read the whole thing bonus:
I will be selling Roof Killer Pineconesat a reasonable price of $25.00. Drop me a line if you too want to plant this decimating conifer in your backyard.
And if anyone wants me, I’ll be at a cabin this weekend watching the campfire with a disturbing amount of pleasure as I watch the kindling burn. Burn baby, burn!