Monday, 16 November 2009

Death by Rhubarb



Some people have irrational fears.  Some of these fears are stranger than others.  I am mostly paranoid of dogs.  Ages ago, a fellow co-worker of mine had Crock-Pot-O-Phobia, which is the fear of slow cookers.  This person would not only steer far away from Crock Pots at work potlucks, but shiver at the prospect of eating food that could have possibly been prepared in a Crock Pot.  She didn't seem to have the same phobia of electric skillets, however.  I did not probe her psyche further by taunting her with an electric wok or a fondue pot, but I assume the latter would set her off by its mere resemblance to a Crock Pot.  I called off  deeper analysis for lack of interest and made a mental note not to provoke emotional Chernobyl by bringing in my hot chilli-cheese dip in my Crockette, a Crock Pot's miniature cousin. 


I was having a snack in the kitchen some time back, when I offered Chumley a choice of yogurts.  To be fair, he won't touch my low-calorie ones, but instead prefers the Muller Fruit Corner, strawberry cheesecake variety if available.  In what I thought was an act of humanity, I felt like offering him all the choices available.  Our fridge contained several flavors, including rhubarb.  I did not expect what happened next.  Based on the gagging sounds, I wondered if administering the Heimlich was appropriate.  It turns out he was so perturbed at the mere thought of rhubarb, he sent himself into some sort of psychogenic epiglottal spasm.  All this for a vegetable. Based on that reaction and the glimmer of others at the mere mention of the word, we were not to speak of it again.


Rhubarb is a common flavor on the island, and lucky for me, I enjoy it.  But Chumley's extreme reaction would have been similar to what I would have done when presented with a puppy.  Had he been bitten by rhubarb as a child?  Forced to pick rhubarb in inhumane conditions?  Worked off college debt in a poorhouse that doubled as a rhubarb processing plant?  Try as I might to delve deeper, Chumley was clearly stalked by rhubarb for no apparent reason.  It was too bad, also.  I was planning on test driving a recipe for rhubarb fool.  Not only would I need epinephrine for him, but it would also give him a catchy little nickname to call me for a period no less than one week, if he could even say the word.  I would have to break up with rhubarb, or at least hide any food products it had "tainted" behind diet items in the refrigerator.  In case I ever needed Chumley repellant, I need only bind two rhubarb stalks together in a cross.  Could that be a new plot twist for the "Twilight" saga?

Just when I thought I had to stop seeing rhubarb, my birthday rolled around.  Chumley was a teenage gardener, and likes to dabble, so my presents were two peach trees and two rhubarb plants.  He even planted them for me, muttering something about how our estate (neighborhood) used to be gravel pits and he could see why.  What a guy.  I expected him to wear a clean suit, but garden gloves were adequate.  It's midway through November, and they plants are already leafing out.  I shall have to take my future rhubarb offerings to work, but for safety's sake, I'll leave my Crockette at home.

1 comment:

Grace said...

Hi Claire, I cannot remember how I arrived at your blog, but here I am. Reading that you have just moved here from America, it was only right that I started at "Welcome to the Toffee Pudding!". I wanted to comment on many of your posts up to this point, but I want to catch up as quickly as I can. However, I just had to let you know that this post had me in tears! (Or perhaps it's way past my bed time and I am getting to the giddy stage.) You write very well with a great sense of humour and British satire! Thank you for sharing! (My American husband and I, a Canadian, moved here over 6 years ago and relate to many of your observations.) Will continue reading the rest of your posts...