Tue, Feb 20, 2018 01:54 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-24 communities
Smile Awhile
Cold Cuts
Sara Hopson
The other night, Ronnie casually mentioned to me that he would love to have a bologna sandwich. While it wasn't an odd request, I knew we didn't have any, so I tried to persuade him with a more savory and convenient food item an apple.

"What do you mean we don't have any bologna?" he cried. "When I was growing up, we always had bologna in the fridge."

"It was a staple in our house, too," I answered as I crunched on an orange slice. "But it's been established that bologna isn't healthy for us anymore."

"You sound like some of my friends in California who used to try and get me to eat raw eels at the Sushi bar!" he exclaimed. "But you let me mention bologna to them and they'd act like it was something akin to road kill."

"Oh, you're exaggerating," I laughed. "Everyone knows what bologna is because of that commercial, 'My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R...'"

"Yes, but in California they still thought bologna consisted of hog brains and horse meat and acted as if it would dog food. By the way, what happened to that last package of bologna?"

"I gave it to Jen-eye," I giggled as the look on Ronnie's face began to resemble that of a kid who woke up on Christmas morning to find nothing under the tree.

"I was in the grocery store the other night and there must have been 30 different kinds of bologna displayed in the meat case," he went on. "There was lite bologna and no-fat bologna; there was bologna made from chickens and bologna made from turkey; you could get it with cheese or you could get it with garlic; there was thin sliced and thick sliced you could even buy a big chunk of it and slice it yourself. Finally, I found the only kind that's really worth buying cause it's the one that tastes like the stuff my mom used to get at Nelson's Grocery across from the baseball field at West Van Lear good old-fashioned, medium sliced beef bologna with all the fat, cholesterol ..."

"...And mouse hairs and rat toenails," I chimed in.

For a second there, as Ronnie glared at me. I thought I saw little daggers coming out of his eyes and heading for my jugular.

"There you go," he said. "Sounding just like those Californians again. I had a friend out there who ate kelp and drank soy milk for breakfast, but if I mentioned ballpark franks to him, his eyes rolled back in his head and bells went off Tilt, Tilt, Tilt."

My own eyes were starting to tilt by then, but Ronnie was on one of his rolls.

"You should have seen the reaction I got at a party one night when I mentioned to some folks from Sausalito about how delicious my mom's squirrel gravy was. I may as well have told them I bite the heads off of live cobras: I thought the hostess was going to hand me my coat and show me the door. I'll never forget the look on her face when she said, 'You eat squirrels?' I remember the room got quiet and all eyes and ears were on me as I replied, 'Yeah, but only with a good Merlot.' However, judging by the silence that followed, I think my first statement probably outweighed the humor."

I didn't respond.

Ronnie took a deep breath, "But the point is, in California grocery stores, you are lucky to find even two or three kinds of bologna and then at least one of them was made from bean curd.

As Ronnie walked out of the kitchen, he turned and said, "Do you think the dog left any in her bowl?"

And I just looked at him like he'd bitten the head off a live cobra.

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