It was only leftover penne arrabbiata, from a week ago. I figured it’s the oldest thing in my fridge and I better eat it before it started growing fungus. That would be bad because I don’t have any good recipes for mushrooms. I’d have to throw it out and as I’ve said before, that goes against everything I’ve been taught in Sunday School by Sister Mary Giada De Laurentiis.
What? Turning on the Food Network on Sunday counts as Sunday School. It’s a deeply religious experience: first I turn on the serene, beatific Giada, then I tune in to Tyler’s Ultimate and imagine myself prostrate on the altar of Chef Tyler Florence, naked, writhing on a bed of romaine, covered in his special brand of thick Italian dressing. The thought of it makes my bread rise. Soon enough, it is warm, thick and splay--ready for eating.
My penne arrabbiata was in a Chinese take-out container, which is weird, because Leona’s is an Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria. You’d think that the container would be something more fitting for Italian food, like maybe, you know, a gondola. But I can see why they opted for a Chinese take-out container. It’s cheap, just a piece of cardboard folded into a container--ingenious, really. It’s just one of those things that the Chinese have graciously shared with the world, like the fortune cookie, tofu and the classic ‘me rove you wroooong time!!!’
Most days, I half-expect not to find my food in the office fridge. Has someone ever stolen your lunch? Have you thought about taking somebody else's lunch?
Once, I had half a steak sandwich gone missing. This troubled me greatly. I wished that I had a photo of the sandwich so I could put up a “Have You Seen This Sandwich?” sign with the photo of my young, innocent sandwich and my phone extension on it. Instead, I had to settle for a description: ‘6 day-old steak sandwich, medium rare on foccacia, light mayo--no cheese, last seen lovingly wrapped in a pale yellow wax paper.’ They say that by individualizing the victim, it humanizes them to their captor.
This person had to be stopped. I mean, who who who but a sinister person would take some unknown co-worker’s food from the fridge and eat it? This person had no morals whatsoever and should be stopped before they molested some child like they molested my poor steak sandwich. Did they rub it on their privates before consuming that tender, seasoned flesh? My stomach turned at the thought.
It’s totally insane, just the idea of eating somebody else’s food. What if the person didn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom before making the sandwich? What if it was made by a vengeful wife who peed into the spaghetti sauce after finding lipstick on her husband’s underwear? And oh-dear-god-in-heaven, what if it was a salad that had ICEBERG LETTUCE. Shock!
But my food was there, so I took the take-out container by its aluminum handle and put it in the microwave oven. I don’t know about you, but I like my food piping hot--scalding, if possible. I like to feel the sizzle; it’s more appetizing that way. I hate eating through my food and finding a cold middle. It’s almost like dating a Korean guy and finding out he can’t do calculus or my laundry. It’s annoying and somewhat disappointing.
I figured that five minutes should do it. Since I am always afraid of bacteria, I add an extra minute to kill off those tiny little buggers. 6-0-0, I punched into the keypad. Start.
I settled down with my current book, a real page-turner: Soon I Will Be Invincible, so I am quickly absorbed. The lunch room was empty so it was pretty quiet save for the low, steady hum of the microwave.
Then suddenly, a few minutes in, I smelled smoke. Looking up, I saw wisps of black smoke seeping out of the sides of the microwave’s door. I jumped up and flew across the room to shut it off.
The door of the microwave sprung open. Inside, the white container was black where the handle was attached, small embers forming around the super-heated aluminum. I grabbed the hot container and threw it into the kitchen sink, burning my fingers. I turned on the water.
The inside of the microwave was sooty. Panic rising, I close the door, took the wet container from the sink, threw it into the trash and ran out of the lunch room. I felt a bit like a criminal leaving a crime scene. I wished I had time to wipe down for fingerprints. Everybody’s a fucking CSI these days; forensics is the new porn.
An hour later, I passed some people in the hallway jabbering about the lunch room. I kept quiet, avoiding eye contact. I was afraid that my guilt, combined with my now-acute hunger, would show on my face.
Inexplicably, at around 330pm, I found myself back in the lunch room. The counter where the microwave sat, was bare; only a smoky outline the evidence of its existence. What was it they say? A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime?
My stomach rumbled and churned.
I was drawn to the refrigerator. I opened the door, staring at the contents. Now, my colleagues’ food are somehow different: enticing--sexy. With nervous fingers, I picked up somebody’s Gladware, peering inside. It looked like pad thai; bits of peanut clinging on the pale, translucent noodle strands.
I struggled briefly, then I put it back. Right then, I was that person who stole your lunch. A foodnapper. A snack pirate. A hamburglar.
Right then, I didn’t even care that there could’ve been, you know, pee in the pad thai...
I finished reading the book Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman and I loved it. This book is about a super-villain Doctor Impossible who escapes from a maximum-security prison, who despite several failures to take over the world, compulsively plots to do it again, like it was a tic. At one point, he finds himself blurting out “I. Am. A. GENIUS!” and then kicking himself afterwards for being so stereotypical. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend Lily (good? evil?) joins the equivalent of the Justice League. She, who has intimate knowledge of his personality. Would she help bring abut his defeat or is she a plant? This book is for you geeks. It’s funny, exciting and it fucking rocks.
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Check out my other recommendations, including "Books You Must Read" and "CDs for a Desert Island" here.