I thought I would die but then somebody else did — The fella at the market in frozen foods, or cryogenic microwaveables, as I like to call them.
His name was Sy. It was obvious why, because Sy liked to sigh.
He got my attention with a huff of breath and a classic pick up line.
“What’s your favorite frozen dinner?” he asked.
“Anything that won’t make me glow in the dark.”
“Was that a joke?” he gasped.
“No, read the label.”
“I will now,” he said and grabbed a box from the shelf, a frozen Bratwurst dinner. “I guess I should always read the fine print.”
“Why do you think it’s called fine?” I said.
“Wow! That’s deep.”
I made an attempt to coerce him across the aisle. “Have you tried the frozen deep dish pizza on the other side?”
“Not yet,” Sy sighed. “Though it looks tempting —“
“— It all looks tempting until you nuke it and steam explodes from plastic like a radioactive cloud.”
Then suddenly he extended a hand to me. “I’m Sy,” he said with a waft of sour breath.
I blocked his breath with a box of Chef Boyardee. “I thought so,” I said. “You sigh like a Sy.”
“Is there something wrong?” He gasped
I took two steps backward and lowered the Chef Boyardee. “It’s the Bratwurst casserole and musty mouth fumes …. I have an aversion to German sausage and sauerkraut.” I said. “My great grandmother survived a Nazi death camp where she often spent her summer vacations.”
“I’m so sorry,” he sighed. “Yet that’s truly amazing. How did you know I just had a hot dog and sauerkraut?”
“Tell me something I don’t know.” I said.
“You are a cracker,” he chuckled.
“What kind of a cracker?” I pressed. “I’m partial to Ritz and cheddar snacks.”
“You are wacky wonderful.”
Not the words I wanted to hear. “Try the rat poison in aisle 9.” I said. “I think you’ll really like it.” Then I walked away, as he released one last convulsive breath.
“Thanks,” he yelled. “I will. And I don’t have to nuke it, so, I won’t get cancer.”
That was the last time I saw Sy sigh. He drank the rat poison right in aisle 9 and collapsed in his cart on top of a 48-pack of beer and the Bratwurst casserole.