Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bird Brain

I made a serious mistake when I first arrived in American.

I went to a health food store to buy yoghourt covered peanuts and raisins, tofu and some Bombay mix.

I had spotted the shop in a strip mall in the first week of our arrival. It took me a week to get there as I was unable to navigate the one way, no u-turn system and was always distracted by the fact that I was willingly going to a place that had the word ‘strip.’

On arrival, I experienced a tortured conversation, the details of which I can no longer recall. In essence, I was in the wrong place, not for the first time. I learned that Health Food Stores are hideously expensive and do not sell food. Should you be the slightest bit interested, Health Food Stores in America sell packets of life enhancing powders sold by mysterious persons with muscles like Jeff Cape. As a travelers tip I would note that it can be mentally scaring to talk to the personification of American malehood during the first seven days in a new country. I still have his imprint: white marble tombstones for teeth, a smile that connected his ear lobes and a chest glistening with something that smelled like toothpaste and lavender, at a distance of fifty paces. Why does spell checker tell me that ‘malehood’ isn’t a word? It should be.

Inspired by the new programme, ‘You are what you eat!’ on BBC America I head off out. My favourite shop, Lucky’s, will fit the bill. The chances of my flock consuming Shepherdess Pie, is remote, but it is always better to travel hopefully and get stuck in a cul-de-sac. I twitter back and forth along the aisles, my beady little eyes seek my quarry, without luck.

I turn to the produce section to hurl in mountains of fresh things and leafy greens from the new organic section. I keep my head low so as to avoid the price labels. I decide to swoop onto a sales assistant for assistance. “I know this is organic but I was wondering if it was also local… any chance?”
“Local? Most of this comes from the San Joaquin Valley. This is California ya know?”
I beam, not to disguise my stupidity but confirm it. Under the circumstances I decide that it probably better not to correct his pronunciation. Americans rarely give enough gusto to their ‘qu’s, but give them an ‘r’ and they’ll roll it forever.

I give up and move to the check out. They ask the question that they always ask, “D’ya find everything today?”

I dither.

I decide.

“Actually, no. I couldn’t find any millet.”
“Isnit over in aisle 10 between cat food and dog food?”
“Hey Sadie go an check for the lady.”
“No, no, no, that’s o.k. I didn’t mean bird seed ……just…….millet.”
“Millet not birdseed?”
“Sadie, have we got any other kinda birdseed?”
“No, no, no,…….I meant……millet that human’s eat.”
“Yes……humans…….us……people……yes,……. people food.”
“Oh right. You’ll probably get that kinda stuff in a health food store.”
“Oh yes of course. You’re probably right.”

He lies.

I beam.


flutter said...

I love it

Almost American said...

Ah yes, the "can't-get-there-from-here" rows of shops and 'health food stores' that sell packets of chemicals. . . I recognise the description. They have them in New England too :-(

Linda said...

Ah yes, the San Joaquin Valley - I used to live there back in my younger years and even though I remember lots of produce and such I'm afraid I don't recall any millet at all!

Angela said...

You mean you can't live on powder crap
Good luck on your search for the human bird seed

Hammer said...

those GNC stores with the muscle powders really piss me off. I checked out the herbal remedies I noramlly buy for $8 at the grocery store aney they want $40 for the same thing.

Angela said...

Ha! I only just discovered that health food stores did not sell food a few years ago myself...

Shellie said...

This was so funny, and often true. The health food store near me also has every grain known to man. It just costs a small fortune. There's a supplier online you can order in bulk from I think it's called Waltons Grain? Maybe if you google them.