Cream, God Damn It
(Sept. 7, 2000)

There was this cell phone commercial where a guy is standing in the pantyhose aisle in the supermarket looking lost, and he pulls out his cell phone, calls his wife, and says, “Honey? You’re going to have to give me some guidance here. (pause) Well, there’s more than one kind of nude.”

It was, to my mind, a mighty effective commercial, because all men (possibly women too, I couldn’t say) have been in that position. You’ve been sent out to get something by someone who gave you a word and sent you off, and now you’re faced with five different options, all of which are close but not exactly right, and you’re not sure which is best or if you should just give up, go home, and say “they didn’t have what you wanted”. And you get really frustrated at whoever sent you, because this is obviously a much more complicated errand than was originally advertised.

I felt that way about cream today. And I can’t even blame it on my girlfriend (though she has yet to atone for the “opaque knee-high stockings” debacle).

See, I have this recipe. It calls for half a cup of heavy cream. So while I was in the supermarket, I went to get some heavy cream. Said product appears not to exist. They have heavy whipping cream, regular whipping cream, half and half, buttermilk, non-dairy creamer, soy milk, and all denominations of regular milk, but not heavy cream.

I went for the heavy whipping cream on the assumption that it is simply labeled that way so that all the dumb men who are sent to the market for whipping cream do not give up and go home because the carton didn’t say “for whipping, dumbass” (A note at home for those who send uninformed men to do shopping for them: don’t be critical when they bring home the wrong thing. If you do it enough, they just won’t bring anything home and claim the store was out in order to save face).

The worst part is that I realized, while standing there, that this has happened before. But it was long enough ago that I don’t remember what I did, or whether the recipe was a disaster because of what I did. So I’m in the same situation all over again. And I can blame no one, except maybe the cookbook author (who, I should note, writes lousy recipes if you live anywhere that gets non-tiny produce. 4 large onions serves four, my ass. Maybe if you live somewhere that has never seen a whole pineapple, but not here in the Former Desert That Yields Obscene Quantities Of Fruit. I mean, I can regularly go to the supermarket and buy fruit I’ve never heard of. I got a green plum today. I didn’t know those existed. And I don’t even go to the official local Wacked-out Produce Store, where you can buy just about every edible plant known to man in regular and organic varieties. And herbal tinctures in huge dispenser bottles. And bulk bulghur. But I digress. As I was saying, if you follow this guy’s directions you get enough vegetable dish to choke a vegan armada. That was, however, a digression in itself; we were discussing heavy cream, which would really choke the aforementioned vegan armada and inspire a tongue-lashing so virulent as to make you stop sniggering over the word “tongue-lashing”. Thus it all comes together, you see).

After snarling for a while at the dairy case and taking a pass through the meat aisle to glare at imitation crab, I took a half-pint of heavy whipping cream and resolved to prevent this from happening again. So I sat down to write about it, so the next time I needed cream I would remember bitching about it in print and remember that heavy whipping cream was what I bought before that unfortunate incident with the lima beans and the half-pint of heavy cream.

Therefore, while I have you here, let’s all repeat a little mnemonic haiku, shall we?

Heavy whipping cream
Not just for whipping, dumbass
Imitation crab

(I considered a mnemonic sonnet instead, but that seems excessive. And I haven’t really mastered any other poetic forms except Elizabethan blank verse, which would just be stupid.

PUNCASS. Well, here is the Forest of Arden.
   Is that a pint of heavy cream I see?
FOOL. Nay, 'tis a pint of heavy whipping cream.
   The cream is meant for whipping, dumbass.
PUNCASS. Your ass is meant for whipping.
FOOL.                                    Nay, not I!
   My ass is skim; twould not form soft white peaks.
PUNCASS. And yet this whips; and yet it need not so.
   Heavy cream it is; imitation crab.

Anyway, you see my point.)

Daily Dose of Irony Update:
It turns out that I had two different recipes mixed up in my mind when I went to the store. I didn’t need the cream at all. So it’s still sitting on my refrigerator shelf next to that goddamn Costco bottle of ranch dressing. Staring at me.

Ain’t life a bitch?

Originally published in Grumble Magazine