My fiancee (if I were cooler than shit, I’d [a] know which e to put the accent on and [b] know how to put the accent on whichever e, but I don’t, and I don’t, and fuck it anyway) and I received a box o’ Christmas swag today via UPS, who courteously only ran it over twice with their van rather than the customary nine or ten times. I guess the holidays have them rushing. Amongst the wrapped gifts was a nice holiday basket full of luxurious, yummy shit that doesn’t seem to exist anywhere outside of holiday baskets.
You know what I’m talking about: Vaclav Havel’s Pepper-Smoked Aged Hard Salami! Snooty-Ass Farms’ Crumblier-Than-Thou Cheese! Umlaut Brand Honey-Dill Mustard! You don’t find this stuff at the AM/PM. In fact, you don’t usually find them in this dimension. It’s only the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the pan-spatial rift opens between our normal spacetime and the mysterious, inaccessible otherworld known as “Vermont.”
Here there be Boutickue Farmes.
Anyway, it looks like good, uppity stuff; stuff that you’ll enjoy the hell out of right until you’re exactly 3/4 done with it, and then for ill-explained reasons, you’ll shove it into the back of the fridge to grow furry along with the poorly-thought-out batch of homemade barbecue sauce. Go ahead, take a look: you’ve got some cornichons back there from last year. See? There they are. You like cornichons, but there they are, looking wan and neglected. Pity the cornichons, sure, we all do, but you just can’t eat them, can you? Nobody knows why.
But in this year’s basket was something new. It’s so strange I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like a physicist who has discovered a brand new particle, except in his case, nobody is going to want to taste his particle or dip something into a jar of his particles. This stuff is . . . it’s a . . . it’s . . . oh, well, it’s from Vermont.
The label says, menacingly enough, “Sweet Heat Pretzel Dip.” First of all, this sounds like the header to an infrequently visited porn page. And second, pretzel dip? Nobody dips pretzels, and I’m certain of this, because I just said so. Nobody dips pretzels.
But moving on to the ingredients, the terrible mystery deepens. I like to read these ingredients out loud, as if from some Culinary Necronomicon, and pretend I am summoning Elder Kitchen Gods: RED RASPBERRY VINEGAR! SUGAR! MUSTARD FLOUR! (what? no time! keep reading!) CLOVER HONEY! MUSTARD SEEDS! SALT! APRICOTS! AND GINGER!
This is what I’m supposed to dip pretzels in? Why? Why would I do this? What possible aberrance of nature or character could impel me into such inexplicable behavior? Nothing makes sense any more; the world spins crazily on a tilted axis, and all I can do is totter along as best I can, clutching a bag of unsullied pretzels to my chest. It is my charge, and I must keep it safe. I must keep myself safe. I must keep us all safe.
And in moments of clarity, I can still see the jar. It sits on the counter, unopened, inviolate, an entity horrible in its Vermont-y perfection. This jar . . . this jar has a Cthonic power that cannot be released, and even yet, cannot be denied, it can only be . . . stilled. In. That. Jar.
I will do what I can. I know my task. I will take you up, Sweet Heat Pretzel Dip. I will take you up and place you in the back of the fridge.
Rest. Rest may we all.