Melbourne seems to enjoy toying with my dignity and, by correlation, my sense of self. First, I was Adventurous Raw Vegan Cheesecake Girl, then I was Almost-Naked-Heatstroke-Fool Girl, and after that I was Costco Conqueror Girl. Have you picked the pattern yet? It goes like this: positive self-identity, negative self-identity, positive self-identity…
I think you can guess what came next.
* * *
It all started when my BFF and I had bought our Costco goodies and were waiting in the store’s foodcourt for the BFF’s husband to pick us up. I looked up at Costco’s billboard menu photos, and noticed that the hot dog came with a stripe of green nestled in its bun.
“What’s that green stuff?” I asked my BFF.
“Pickle gloop,” she replied, popping a just-purchased peanut butter-filled salted-pretzel into her mouth. “You apply it yourself over there at the self-serve condiment bar.”
I looked over at the condiment bar. I looked back at my chewing BFF. Condiment bar. Bag of peanut butter-filled salted pretzels. Condiment bar.
The BFF looked at me.
“I dare you,” she said.
Honestly, what was I meant to do after that? It was a direct challenge, after all.
Disclaimer: The first photo is the only one I knew Agnes had taken. I didn’t realise she’d documented the whole process until much later. As a result, these candid photos capture my emotional trajectory remarkably well.
Melbourne: It’ll Bring Out The Fool In You (Part Two), aka The Case of the Pickle Gel-Topped Peanut Butter-Filled Salted Pretzel
It begins. I smile under the camera’s gaze, whilst in my mind the same thoughts are running on repeat: Oh dear heavens, this gloop is so fluorescent, so jelly-like-yet-solid-with-suspended-particles-of-alien-pickleness, and so not something I want to put in my mouth. How can I get out of this?
Dipping the peanut butter-filled salted pretzel into the strangely-resistant green gel, I start to laugh hysterically. At this point, the moment of tasting is still far enough away that I can see the situation as more entertaining than horrifying.
(I’m surprised Agnes got such clear shots of me doing this. She was laughing pretty hard herself too, although her laughter had a maniacal edge. I think you should know that.)
Reality hits, and my face starts to transition from laughter to terror. If you look closely, you can see the tell-tale signs of trauma building around my eyes as my nose wrinkles in consternation.
I’m staring directly at my arch-nemesis, and I swear the suspended pickle particles are staring back.
Can’t back out now. The pickle-gel-covered peanut butter-filled salted pretzel goes inside me, and my mind freezes in shock as my eyes lock onto something in the middle distance.
Oh dear holy bucket, something deep inside me whispers, shivering. What have you done to yourself?
Despite my best efforts to the contrary, my senses start to register the processed foodstuffs (questionable term there, surely) skittering over my tongue. Incredibly sugary, gelatinous pickle-ish sweetness. Crunchy wheat-based pretzel shell, crumbling away and sending forth jolts of salt. Lastly, mingling with the sweet-so-sweet pickle, faint hint of vinegar, and bread-y taste of the pretzel, is the chalky, dry, sticks-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth peanut butter.
And then the realisation hits me:
It’s not all that bad.
So I ate another one.
I win forever, BFF.