I’ve been working in downtown Cincinnati for almost a year now. I’m not crazy about the location. I pay $110 a month for a parking spot and traffic is insane from 7am to 7pm. Everything is more expensive downtown from the twenty dollar lunch to the fifteen dollar martini. There are plenty of amenities nearby though I can’t think of them right now. I did meet the Reverend Jessie Jackson one day when he was coming out the front door of his hotel at the same moment I was strolling past.
But I don’t take many strolls here. Downtown is a magnet for the disturbed. I walk three blocks from the parking garage to my office and back again and not a day passes without me walking alongside someone having a loud, animated conversation with no one in particular. There are panhandlers on every corner asking for a quarter or a dollar. If I ever meet one who asks for a sandwich I’ll buy it for them — but that’s not happened yet.
I did find a small deli tucked into a street corner about four blocks away where you can get an excellent sandwich and bag of chips for seven bucks — if you’re willing to stand in line. There’s always a line. The food is good and ladies that work there are friendly. I guess I’ve gone there enough that they know my name and my peculiar eating habits.
I don’t like tomatoes and I don’t like pickles. I understand these are staples at a delicatessen but I don’t want any part of them. Our conversation was like this every time I went in for a while:
Me: “Gimme a ham and cheese on rye. Plain. Nothing else on it.”
Them: “Do want tomato on that?”
Them: “Do you want pickle on it?”
Them: “Do you want pickles on the side?”
After playing this game for a few weeks they finally remembered and started calling me “Plain Jeff”. I’m okay with that because it’s funny and serves a useful purpose.
I wish I had the same luck at other places where I order a “plain hamburger, nothing else on it” and then nine times out of ten it arrives with a slice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. When I complain, the afflicted burger makes a quick return to the kitchen where the unwanted elements are manually removed and the sandwich returned to me.
But I know. Pickle sweat has an unmistakable stench.
And don’t get me started on tomatoes.
Pickles are nasty but tomatoes are their even nastier cousin. Slice open a tomato sometime and take a good look inside, if you can keep from retching. Seeds floating in a snot-slimy jelly — that thing is still in some pre-historic larval stage of development. Pro-lifers should be raising holy hell about the needless massacre of all those tomato fetuses.
The only reason people like them is that they’ll grow anywhere. Even the most feckless gardener can grow tomatoes. It’s a low-skill, low-brow food source. And I should know, I live in Indiana where we grow millions of tons of them every year.
Still, I amuse at the home gardeners who keep growing these abominations. They plant too many, the plants yield more than anyone expected and the result is that most go to waste. But not at first. Hope springs eternal. Take a drive in the country around my house in June and every other house has a table full of them for sale with a sign that reads, “Three for a dollar”.
By late July the table is still full but the sign has been changed to read, “Free tomatoes – take all you want” — but no one ever does.
If I didn’t hate the tomato so much, I’d probably pity it.