Commentary 23 Apr 2010 06:21 am
This week’s column, fresh from the pages of The Alliance Review on April 22, 2010:
While you are all singing the praises of spring, I’m a dissonant voice in the choir, noting the season’s negative effects on dairy products.
I’m talking milk here, created by our bovine friends sometime in the 14th century exclusively for use on cereal, which wasn’t invented until Cyrus Cereal (cousin of the even more obscure Seymour Cereal, who named the little flap of skin between thumb and index finger) discovered Froot Loops growing along the Amazon River in 1919. Which meant that for something like 600 years, milk served no function, except as a salve for poison oak.
But I digress.
Milk and spring go together like oil and water, like Republicans and Democrats, like conservatives and liberals.
Consider: In the winter, you buy a gallon of milk, chuck it in the backseat of the car, and reasonably expect that it will be usable when you get home (the milk, not the back seat, although that should still be functional too.)
Not so in spring — and don’t even get me started on summer — when the plastic jug starts to sweat the moment you leave the air-conditioned grocery store. This is when the clock starts ticking and the race is on to get the milk home before it goes bad.
(It sounds like a Far Side cartoon: The milk lurks in the seedier section of the refrigerator — behind the cottage cheese, maybe — enticing the orange juice to light up a cigarette, or the squeezable ketchup to shake down the Miracle Whip for lunch money, with the caption, “When Milk Goes Bad.”)
My family makes fun of my obsession. They vetoed my plan to keep a cooler full of ice in the trunk for such occasions, pooh-poohing my valid health concerns and chiding me with lighthearted, loving names like “jerk,” “fathead” and “clinically insane.”
They cite lots of evidence to debunk my belief that milk cannot be safely transported home without running traffic lights and mowing down little old ladies in crosswalks (peeling their orthopedic hose off the windshield is a real drag, let me tell you), hair flowing wildly like a character in a Basil Wolverton drawing, mouth open like that poor guy in Edvard Munch’s “Scream,” yelling out the window, “Get out of my way, you pikers! I’ve got milk in the backseat! MIIIIIIILK!”
Their so-called proof consists of online documents from health organizations that maintain it’s perfectly fine for milk to remain unrefrigerated for a reasonable time — say, the 10 minutes it takes to get from store to home — even in warmer temperatures. But I don’t believe them. The Internet is full of hoaxes, including a recent one that roving gang members are throwing eggs onto windshields to force cars to the side of the road where they will attack the drivers — probably to get their milk.
Even dear old Mom, who should support a son in the face of so many unbelievers, can’t resist a joke at my expense. A few weeks ago, she dropped off some brownies. When I invited her in, she said she couldn’t; she had milk in the car. Giggle. Grrr. (But I kept the brownies.)
Scoff if you will, but I prefer to buy milk at a local drugstore two blocks from my house. If I leave the car running and the air conditioning on, I can transport it from store cooler to home refrigerator with no drop in temperature, although the damage I do to the environment through exhaust fumes and Freon probably negates any health advantages.
I’ve considered buying my own cow, but rumor has it the milk comes out warm, and as there isn’t enough room to keep Elsie in the refrigerator, I don’t know what else to do.
All of which explains why, if you see me in the store during the spring and summer, I won’t stop to talk. Catch me before the milk aisle, or talk to me in the winter. Otherwise, I’m on a strict time schedule, and I dairy not dally.