Adventures in Clusterfuckistan, Part Two

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

Greetings from Clusterfuckistan! Where everything is not only fucked, it’s clusterfucked. Where you come home from the worst day of your life and notice that your Maxi-pad has inched its way out of your underpants and onto the outside of your skirt.

I won’t be staying long – I just dropped in to visit a friend and bring her a casserole. The official casserole of Clusterfuckistan is tuna mushroom noodle casserole. Nobody wants it, nobody likes it, nobody eats it but all visitors are compelled – Stepford like – to make and deliver it. And if you do happen to eat it (because the person who brought it insists on sitting with you, forcing you to take a few bites, “to keep up your strength”) you can actually feel yourself giving up, surrendering your passport and settling in for a nice, long stay in the Fuckistans. God help you.

The only known antidote to the TMNC is an Edible Arrangement bouquet of chocolate-covered fruit, extra pineapple, STAT. I know this from personal experience.

Why is it that people want you to eat a casserole when you are miserable? What is it about mixing shit with other shit and then baking the shit out of it that makes us feel as if we are helping? Personally, when I am a resident of Clusterfuckistan, I want my food separated into categories. I mean, the whole point of Clusterfuckistan is that all your fucked is in a cluster, one shitty thing morphing into another without pause for a chance to breathe. When that is my life, at least let me see the distinct ingredients in my meal separated by breathing space. The space on the plate between the chicken and the asparagus – that’s breathing room, you know? That’s freedom. That’s the ticket out.

When I went to college in Santa Cruz in the 70’s, I had a brief stay in Clusterfuckistan when my boyfriend of four years suddenly dumped me. Yes, well, I had been secretly planning to dump him as soon as I graduated and yes, well, I had already met Robin and begun to design his entrapment, but no matter. Getting dumped – even if it’s just that you got dumped first – warrants a trip to the Fuckistans. And even in the 70’s, casseroles were required. In Santa Cruz, birth of vegan windchime compost earthpeace (I just randomly selected words there), the key ingredient in casserole offerings was tofu.

Now, I love tofu; I really do. And not just because it is the emblematic food of my generation, a culinary fuck you to Spiro Agnew’s bloody rare steaks. I love it because it makes me feel superior to people who don’t have it in their shopping carts. You sit at a Thai place, you order your Pad Se Ew with tofu and damn if the others at your table don’t sound almost sheepish when they order theirs with chicken. Priceless.

But 1970’s tofu, even casserolized, was rough. Nobody really knew what to do with it back then. It mostly swam around in its watery container growing whiskers and scaring the shit out of the other food in the fridge. The well-meaning casseroles of tofu and bark and windchimes and compost and earthpeace were pretty damn funky and didn’t offer much solace or distraction from the existential despair of the person receiving them. And the tuna mushroom noodle deal is worse. It’s like, oh, honey, your life is clusterfucked so I opened a can of cream of mushroom soup and dumped it onto a can of tuna that contains mercury and might have killed a dolphin. And then I put it in the oven until it smelled like wet Tevas and now I am going to force you to eat it.

You know what, I am dumping this pan of crap in my pot-holdered hands. No more casseroles in Clusterfuckistan. No se pasaran.

There’s a new smell of revolution in the air.

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