I may have passed over the Bagel Event Horizon.
Grocery shopping is my responsibility, and I rather enjoy it. I like being surrounded by all that food, and it’s always fun to see what’s there. And sometimes I run into people I like while doing so, people I don’t ordinarily see in my daily running about between campuses (campii?).
We learned a long time ago that it works best if I have a list when I go, as otherwise I end up with a pile of random things – and in a supermarket the size of the one in Our Little Town (roughly a third of the square footage of the entire community, or thereabouts), this can get fairly random indeed. In order to have such a list, one must first prepare a menu for the upcoming week. This also stops the daily 4:45pm “I don’t know, what do you want to have for dinner?” phone call that was once a regular feature of my day, and that’s all to the good. So every week either Kim or I will prepare a menu for the week, and then I’ll write this up into a shopping list and off I go.
But not everything makes it onto the list, of course. There are the usual staples that one always gets – things that find their way into the cart every week without fail, such as butter – and sometimes I write those down and sometimes I don’t.
Bagels are in that category.
I live in a region of the country that is distressingly dominated by goyim. There is no place anywhere in the county where you can pick up a dozen fresh hot bagels that are any good – midwestern bagels have a tendency to be steamed rather than boiled, which turns them into toroidal muffins rather than actual bagels. That’s great if you want a cranberry-raisin bagel-shaped object, but if I wanted a cranberry-raisin muffin shaped like a donut I’d just get one and be done with it. And forget about a decent poppyseed bagel. Oy.
I grew up in an area where excellent bagels were just assumed as part of the natural order of things. There was a little shop just across the Philadelphia city line where crowds of us goyim would sometimes head after church on Sundays to pick up a dozen or so, and when I go back east I often head down to that shop on that same mission. They’re nut free, chewy, and heavenly with cream cheese. What’s not to like?
If I want anything approaching a decent bagel here in Our Little Town, however, I have to get them frozen. There’s a Madison brand that’s not bad, and I always like to have some on hand for breakfasts or quick lunches.
But I don’t often write them down on the list, because they’re something I usually buy anyway.
Except that sometimes we eat them all the time around my house, and sometimes we eat other things for a while, so the bagel supply in our freezer varies according to demand.
All of this means that I often find myself standing there in the frozen foods section, wondering if I should buy more bagels. And the thing is that these are frozen bagels. They’re essentially immortal, and fairly inexpensive. There is, in other words, almost no penalty for buying more than I need – they’ll keep until I need them – but there is a substantial penalty for running out midweek.
Hell hath no fury like a man without his morning bagel, particularly if it is a self-inflicted wound.
This means that most of the time I just throw a couple of bags of bagels into the cart, certain that they will get eaten eventually. And when I do this for a few weeks in a row during a downturn in demand, well. They pile up a bit. They get shoved to the back of the freezer, to be discovered only when other things are removed, which can take a while.
We’ve got a lot of bagels now.
If I buy more bagels without eating the ones we have, I fear that they will compress into some kind of Kosher critical mass. There will be a radioactive blue and white glow from the freezer followed by some kind of implosive whoomping noise and suddenly I will have ringlets and start speaking in Yiddish, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but which might make my classes harder for my students to understand.
Once you pass over the Bagel Event Horizon, things are different.