Shark Stew


Is it just me or have we become a society of sharks? Not the predator type like Shark Tank, but in the sense that we must constantly keep moving or we will die. #1p3560383_b_v8_acWhy do you think there is an espresso shop every five feet? On the streets, in the markets? They are everywhere! To keep us continually fueled on high-octane caffeine. Starbucks has drive-thru locations like Indy pit-stops.

These are the kinds of things I think about when I’m wide awake at three o’clock in the morning.  Move! Move! Move! Wake up; Ninja Bullet green slime smoothies for all; Kids out the door; Move! Move! Move! Go to work; Pick up kids; Kids to soccer; Kids to baseball; Kids to music lessons; Laundry; Clean the house; Make dinner; Move! Move! Move!


My mother suffered from “Bettyism”. Her work ethic made Betty Friedan, the Grand Dame of the feminist movement, seem more like Betty Crocker with Betty White’s sense of humor. Alas, I can’t help but think being “liberated” is a burden, so much responsibility to constantly achieve, it’s overwhelming. No one wants to be the “slacker.”

FemThat’s not to say I’m not glad for my over achieving sisters of the sisterhood who have been banging their heads against that glass ceiling trying anything to break through, from throwing rocks, to jimmying it open with the stiletto heel on their Jimmy Choo shoe. Now they are free to be CEOs, doctors, and even sit on the boards of big corporations. For the rest of us, I’m just not completely sold on this concept of “having it all.”  It feels more like “doing it all.”

With my kids now old enough and our bank account low enough, I had run out of good excuses. It was time for this minnow to jump back into that shark tank and get a job. But having been on dry land for years, I realized I didn’t have any viable skill sets. Or so I thought. Apparently those years spent trying to convince my kids to taste something new was grooming me for the perfect position. So when my friend asked me to help her launch her new line of salsa I couldn’t say no.

I am a demo girl. (I’m not really a girl, it just sounds cuter.) That said, I’m not one of those ladies that you see in Costco wearing hairnets standing by a worn out toaster-oven either.

“People watching” is a great activity to pass the time while passing out salsa samples. I find the moment I sling on that green apron I become invisible in a Harry Potter kind of way.

Shoppers come in different species:

The Allergist – This is someone who randomly puts food in their mouth. Eat first, ask questions later. I’ll watch while they put the cute little morsel in their mouth, swirl it around like a fine wine and swallow. “That’s very good, but I hope it doesn’t contain cilantro.  I am horribly allergic to cilantro.” (Cilantro is a common herb used in most salsa). Dude, seriously? If I were allergic to anything that could cause me to die I would never put any unknown substance in my mouth. I have some bad news…you are about to blow-up like an inept terrorist.

The Spitter – Taste test failed.  “I don’t like it.” Then, without a moment’s hesitation, proceeds to take the cute sample out of their own mouth and try to place in my hand. “Here, I don’t want it.” “Sorry no returns.” I didn’t even take chewed food from my own kids’ mouths.

The Medusa Effect – Circle around the table looking curiously from the corner of their eye. Then suddenly their head drops, “Don’t make eye contact. Don’t look! Don’t look! Walk away.”

Today I was working in a market in Beverly Hills, where the clientele was the cream of the pretentious crop. The kids were dressed better than me. Women and men were grocery shopping in Prada pumps, carrying little green plastic baskets, dabbling at marketing.

Wearing my invisibility apron, I observed two women walk up to the butcher counter in front of me. They were right out of central casting for the Housewives of New Jersey. I’m guessing in their forties, but it was hard to tell since their faces were infused with Botox and their lips were so filled with collagen it looked like two gigantic red caterpillars sprawled out on their faces. Spindly legs slipped into tight fitting, bold printed leggings with big-heeled ankle booties to anchor them. Oversized t-shirts flopped about like bat wings. Each girl sporting enough booty to make Captain Jack Sparrow launch the Black Pearl.

Characteristically, they talked loudly, chewed gum and spoke with such a distinctive accent that Henry Higgins would have cringed with delight.

“My sista and me are making a fish stew and need loabstas,” Blondey said, marching around the counter to the large tank of lobsters as if she were Ariel the Little Mermaid. “Here, take that one out, check the claaaws. Na I don’t like that one, put it back. Look, this one is already dead,” she said poking it.

“Whadaya care? We’re gonna kill ‘em anyway”, the sister with dark hair said.

“That’s not funny.” Blondey turned back to the butcher who smiled politely. “Don’t listen to her, I’m the chef, she is not. I know my lobstas.” She clunked back around to the front of the counter while the butcher began boxing up hundreds of dollars in crustaceans.

The dark haired sister spoke up, “Shrimp. Get these.”

“Oh my Gawd! You are so stupid. Those are already cooked!” She turned to the butcher, “I told you, don’t listen to her, she doesn’t know anything. I am da chef of da family.” Now, turning, exasperated back to her sister, “You don’t put cooked shrimp into a soup with other things not yet cooked. Am I right? Give us da raw shrimps please.”

“How about squid? Do you mind if we put squid in?”, the now miffed dark haired sister asked.

“Shuwer. I’ll take some squid too. But I don’t want it with da TESTICLES.”

The sister looked at her, tilting her head like a collie. “Don’t you mean tentacles?”

“How many times do I have to tell you? I am da chef here. I know fish, okay. You’re just embarrassing yourself. Please stop tawking. Will you please let me do the ordering? I’ll take 5 pounds of squids, but weigh them after you’ve cut off the testicles. I don’t like squid with testicles. Too sticky. Too slimy. Too hairy.”

It was only then that Blondey looked over at me and commented, “Spicy things upsets my insides plumbing, if you get what I’m saying.” She turned back to her sister, “That poor woman, having to work like that. There but for the grace of God go us.” She said shaking her head.

Me?! I’m a girl, not a poor woman! People can be so castrating!

Lucky for me, Ya’ can’t hit a moving target.


Da da, Da da… I think I need a bigger boat.

Till next time. Live with Waffletude.







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