Lettuce comes from a field with an expiration date. Humans come from a seafaring bird, which is inedible and shares the same lack of a definitive expiration date as humans. Working from the premise that certain seafaring birds and humans aren’t raised for consumption and that they share the same lack of an absolute time of dismal reminds me of an individual I once met in passing at an upscale charcuterie at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. His name was Stork and by all accounts he was human.
Born in Cuernavaca during a period of civil unrest and unseasonably inclement weather, not many of life’s chips looked to fall in his favor. Stork was the towheaded son of a diplomat who by the age of eleven he could curse in four languages and woe native girls with all the charm that is afforded by living in government paid home and possessing a different colored passport. Stork is and was the Cuernavacan equivalent of all those Nordic looking folks with once government issued orders that called the Panamanian coastline home. I believe John McCain falls into that category as well.
But lettuce is not cultivated in los cabos de las huertas de Panama and Stork, now a mild mannered man of refined taste and thinning hair, has never been south of Cuenavaca. The weather never permitted and he had read every James Patterson novel up until that point, which would have been the proper reading material to make such a trip, which is not to say he didn’t want to join his brethren (in appearance) in Panama. Quite the opposite, actually. Stork spent much of his youth wondering when he would be reunited with his fellow ex-pat countrymen who his father knew well, but he had never had the pleasure of meeting although it was often assumed he was just visiting, after thirty-five odd years in the place he was in fact a resident.
Since the overthrowal of the last otherthrowers, the Stork clan rescinded their place in Cuenavacan society. To pass the years they took to watching Turkish Delight each evening as a sort of nightcap. When in season, Stork spent his days harvesting their citrus rich orchard while secretly wishing it was possible to grow rutabaga. The father Stork, long since dead from overmedicating with strychnine, left Stork a sizable fortune in the way of an almond farm in California’s central valley, which Stork frequently and regretfully pointed out, was not in Panama, but rather in America.
“There are far worse places than America,” Stork the mother offered. But Stork would hear none of it. He was no longer a towheaded boy with Slavic and Latin based expletives on his tongue. He was now an overwrought naturalized ex-pat grower of citrus, admirer of Rutger Hauer who looked as if he was never going to make it south of the only town he’d ever intimately known.
I knew all of this by the time it was Stork’s turn to pay at the charcuterie. I tried to wish him safe travels figuring it was best to flee while the cashier occupied him. “I’m sure you’ll love Panama, Stork!”
“Panama? Who said anything about Panama? I’m going to Nederland. I’m going to hunt down Rutger Hauer. I want to write his biography.”
What I learned from Stork was although humans don’t come with a neatly labeled and government enforced day upon which it would be best if they were disposed, the human mind is frighteningly similar to an avocado. While you’re fumbling around the display, cupping avocados, which have no doubt been cupped by hundreds of hands before your own, it’s best to pick blindly and without bias to appearance. Stork had the physical attributes of a healthy avocado—blemish free, not particularly mushy. But once you cut that thing open, it became apparent that what bird, man and avocado have in common is all can be rotten at their respective cores long before there’s evidence on the surface.
–The Neapolitan Mastiff