Cut to story:
Enter Neesha in the mid-afternoon light, feet slapping against the stone kitchen floor, fingers ruffling through a plastic bag resting on the kitchen counter to, ultimately, reveal what it contains: apricot/cranberry bread. (Imagine an expression of utter joy on her face as she pulls two slices from the bag.)
Neesha has given up meat, seafood, cheese and any product made of these elements for Lent this year. For those of us who are vegan/vegetarian this isn't so bad and even for Neesha it's do-able, save for the fact that she is on spring break visiting her parents who love meat and hate seitan, tofu, tempeh...etc True, she is not much of a Catholic, but she is a sucker for a challenge and giving something up for 40 days is a challenge. As her fiance would say: she does it to see if she can.
Envision her small mom standing at the ironing board she's positioned in the kitchen, wedged between the sink and the bread counter.
"Hey Mama, do we have any peanut butter?" Neesha asks, mouth salivating as she puts the slices of bread on a paper plate-the first piece of food she has had time to eat all day long.
Picture tiny Connie pulling a jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter from the cabinet behind her. In Neesha's mind she sings, "Peanut...peanut butter...(jelly!)" although she has no intention of putting jelly on her bread.
Peanut...peanut butter...jelly! She spreads the creamy peanut butter over the yellow and red speckled bread. Peanut...peanut butter...jelly! Peanut...peanut butter...Over the slice...jelly! "Does peanut butter go bad, Mom?" She asks as she screws the cap back on the peanut butter jar.
"I don't know? Why?" Connie asks, a touch of concern and interest in her voice. She eyes the jar.
"No reason. I just wondered. I thought there was mold in there, but realized it was just the empty spot on the bottom of the jar, not a mold spot."
More salivation before, at last, the first indulgent sensational bite...and chew, chew...gag.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the correct answer to the question "Does peanut butter go bad, Mom?" is a resounding "yes." Peanut butter goes rank and vomitesque. (Yes, I created that word just for you.) Ya know when you haven't dusted your abode in a long time, then decide it's past due? So you go ahead and pull out a dust rag but only have one so you have to clean the whole place and all its surfaces with just the one rag? Imagine all the dust that has collected from your entire habitat being mixed in with a jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter remnants. That equalled what I almost threw up from my first attempt at eating of the day.
The peanut butter coated itself to the walls and surfaces of my mouth like quick-dry cement. My tongue stuck to my teeth, my cheeks, the roof of my mouth and all the saliva secreted out...retreating from the foul peanut butter I attacked it with. I could do nothing but gag. My eyes teared up, ready for whatever was in my stomach to come rocketing back out. The problem was-there was nothing in my stomach. My mouth was a hostage to the bad peanut butter and nothing was coming out. Salvation came in the form of my toothbrush which I used to cut through the layer of stale peanut butter and bread that stuck to my mouth. It was torture. Pure torture. I would've preferred battling salmonella from the peanut butter than the gross, bad peanut butter I unknowingly attempted to have for lunch.
When Neesha returned from gagging up her peanut butter and apricot/cranberry bread, a new, unopened jar of peanut butter greeted her on the counter. Still coughing and sputtering, she shoved it back toward her mother, saying, "I think I'm off peanut butter for, maybe, ever. And perhaps you should be, too."
Moral of the story: don't eat anyone else's peanut butter or you'll be sorry.
Oh, and, also...beware of bad peanut butter. It's not like milk which curdles and smells, but a whole new breed of disgusting.
Hope you're all well. Miss you desperately!
(PS-sorry for the confusion of narrator's, too, was feeling experimental)