ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

Morning comes, the sun rises, and the new day begins whether or not we’re ready. It’s pouring rain outside, it’s our anniversary, we have three sick little girls at home, and as the result of a series of bizarre events, neither my wife nor I will be going to school or work today. A maelstrom of bodily functions is one hell of a way for us to get to spend the day together, but I love this crazy group of females so much, I’ll take it any way I can get it.

I realized that this story had the potential to go on for another 3 or 4 weeks, so here to fore, will be a much consolidated version of the events of that day out of courtesy to you. We made the best of the day that was, with our sole concern being the well being of our 3 amazing daughters. It was painfully clear that my lovely wife and I wouldn’t be going out for a romantic dinner, but sometimes, it comes in handy that I have a Culinary degree, and can cook my rapidly growing ass off.

I was determined to salvage the day, and WOW my wife with a great dinner. I was planning a menu in my head, and it centered on steak. I asked her what she wanted to have for dinner, and she reminded me of the times we used to get a bunch of fresh seafood, and then cook up a feast at home. When we first started dating, and only had two children between us, we would often go to the seafood market and buy shrimp, clams, oysters, mussels, etc. I’d shuck, or cook these items, and we would have a feast that lasted for hours!

So I decided to make everyone happy. I’d start with the seafood, and then cook us big ole slabs of filthy red MEAT! Everyone wins! I walked outside into the elements for the first time that day to hit the stores necessary for this ANNIVERSARY FEAST, with a plan in my head regarding what stops I had to make, and in what order. I drove to the strip mall about a mile from my home. First and foremost, I had to hit the liquor store. I wanted to make sure that we had at least one really nice bottle of wine for tonight. My demeanor had come back around and I was growing increasingly excited about the evening that lay ahead. I perused the shelves of this store searching for just the right bottle of wine. Then, as if on cue, and sticking with the theme of my day, the power went out and the store went dark. Once you’ve spent enough time being Me, you generally come to expect this sort of thing.

I could no longer see the side of the store where the wines were stored at all, so I turned my attention 180 degrees to the beer and liquor side. This was where the emergency lights were. As I made my way there, I heard the young lady behind the counter tell a female patron who was checking out, “well, we’re closed.”

The customer pleaded with the clerk who responded only, “not unless you have cash”, which she sadly did not, so she and her $5 bottle of Riesling would have to be reunited another day.

I immediately found it interesting that the power had now been off for approximately 40 seconds, and yet the girl working in this store had already committed to shutting down and going home. Quite the go-getter. I grabbed a 12 pack of some sort of a cider beverage for my wife, and requested a liter of my brand of vodka from behind the counter. The sweet, ambitious lady responded with, “didn’t you hear me, I said we’re closed?”

I very calmly looked at her and spoke the following words,

“I’ve been awake now for two days, I have a house full of sick children, it’s my anniversary, which evidently I’ll now be spending in the dark, and I’ve had an overall monumentally shitty day. If I go home without some sort of booze right now, even if it’s only just for me, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing me on the news tomorrow. AND, I HAVE CASH!”

She blinked twice, and looked at me with a perfect combination of fear, fascination, and empathy. She then retrieved my bottle of premature embalming fluid and totaled me up. I traversed the rapidly darkening parking lot to place my hooch in the van, and then turned toward the grocery store which was practically adjacent to the liquor dispensary.

Everything else that I had hoped to get for tonight’s dinner could be obtained there, so I was hoping desperately that even with the power out, they might be able to accommodate me. I timidly approached the entrance pretending that I had just exited a vehicle which had rendered me unaware of the fact that there was no electricity anywhere in the immediate vicinity. As I neared the store, I noticed a rather large female employee standing just inside manually opening the normally automatic doors for customers to exit. She glared at me through the door as if she were protecting a nest full of eggs and I was about to breech her perimeter. I stopped right there on the sidewalk for fear of seeing her full wing span and hearing a deafening honking sound. It seemed they were having no difficulty handling the customers who had already been in the store, but they weren’t exactly welcoming new clients. I stood there in the rain like an idiot for the next 15 minutes or so, in hopes that the world around me would be illuminated once again and I could continue my plans.

Eventually, it occurred to me that I had the means, and ability to drive 3 or 4 miles to another store and hope that the power outage was isolated enough not to have reached there. So I proceeded on to the super store. I won’t mention the name of it, but let’s just say it rhymes with ball fart. As I neared the store, I was relieved to see that it was fully illuminated. I also remembered that right across the street from it was a seafood store. I could stop there on the way home and get shrimp and clams which were already cooked since I can’t cook them at my house. The night was coming together after all.

Once inside the massive purveyor of the unnecessary, I texted my wife to see if our power had returned, and she informed that it had not. Now I was posed with the daunting task of bringing home an impressive, yet sans electricity friendly dinner. This was about to become the charcuterie anniversary. I started loading my cart with various cured meats, and things that had been forced into sausage casings, none of which required immediate refrigeration. These of course had to be accompanied by various crackers, and multiple cheeses. I would soon learn that I was not exactly in a gourmet hub for true cheese lovers. I purchased 8 different varietals of cheese, all of which were the same brand, and all in the exact same size and shaped rectangular brick. I grabbed a few more items in jars packed in brine that gave them a shelf life of roughly infinity. Some roasted red peppers, artichokes, and a few others for color. I’m feeling good about this. All of these items, paired with the seafood I’m going to pick up across the street, and the evening is salvaged.

I had now spent over an hour in this store placing things in and out of my cart and constantly reminding myself to stay away from perishables. It was now time for me to check out which would subsequently use the last of my cash. As I was completing the transaction, I received a text message from my wife informing me that the power had been restored. This happened either just too soon, or just too late. I couldn’t go back and amend my purchases to us now having power, but at this point, I was rather looking forward to eating by candle light. Now I’m just going to be some ass eating crappy sausage and cheese in a brightly lit house. How freakin romantic.

I loaded the last of my groceries into my car and realized that I had failed to get my wife some flowers. I ran back into the store and picked out a bouquet of roses. I figured while I was there, I should get a “feel better” bouquet for my daughter as well, so I did. I soon found myself back in the same line with the same sales clerk that I had just left moments ago. On the first trip, I had rung up over $300, and paid cash. Now, about 4 minutes later I’m using plastic for a $20 purchase. The funniest part was seeing the look on her face as she tried to figure out where she knew me from. Just for fun, I told her that she looked really familiar to me just as I left.

This time, I ran to my car unaware of how late the seafood place was open. As I climbed into my soccer mom assault vehicle I was relieved to see the store across the street still lit. In the time it took my minivan and I to get a green light, and travel the 300 yard across the street, the store had closed and it was dark. I pulled up at 8:03, and apparently they close at 8:00. The hits just keep on coming.

When I got home, my wife saw the look of shear defeat on my face and asked what was wrong. I proceeded to tell her the detailed story of the events which had transpired since I left our house. Eventually, we both found the humor in it, but she found it immediately. Being the consummate good sport that she is, she turned off the lights, lit some candles, and we enjoyed our non perishable meat products while giggling like children.

Over the span of the next 16 hours, both of our younger daughters would contract the same vicious stomach virus that had attacked our oldest. There was more projectile vomiting going on in my house than fraternity row during pledge week. Everywhere I turned, a petite, beautiful young girl was throwing up. It was like being back stage at a fashion show.

It was a rough day, but everyone got through it. The kids are all fine now, and my wife still seems to love me – it may have been the cured meats that saved the day. Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols