Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bread and Milk! Milk and Bread!! Bread and Milk!!! Milk and Bread!!!! (Oh, and maybe some eggs, too.)

We're in the midst of a snowstorm of sorts here in the Ohio Valley, although from what I've heard, nowhere near the impending blizzard that's hurtling for places along the northern East Coast, including New York City where the new mayor used his first day in office to shut the joint down.

What an adrenaline rush that must be. "Look, Ma! I speak. It closes!"

Although if I were him, I'd be furtively wondering if Michael Bloomberg wasn't trying to sabotage my first day...

The Ohio Valley is an interesting place to live when it comes to weather. I've heard longtime natives describe the recurring meteorological cycles as "heat in the morning, AC in the afternoon," or something to that effect. One can never be sure which front we'll find ourselves under, over, or behind. 

Right now, it's snow and bone-chilling temperatures. By Sunday, it's rain and above-freezing temps. By Tuesday, we'll be in the midst of a second Ice Age as the nighttime highs drop below 0 and the daytime highs fight to get above zero. 

Unfortunately, the highs that would really send you soaring are still illegal in these parts. 

By this time next week, who knows? We might be mowing our lawns and nursing martinis by the poolside. Or building an ark and collecting deer and squirrels two by two.

Even though this is 2013 and snowstorms still happen, I'm often struck by the emotional reaction people have to these kinds of weather events. You would think at this point in humankind's development, we would have mastered, if not the weather, then at least our reaction to the weather. 

But with the kind of redundancy that would bore an obsessive compulsive, people respond to such expected weather events as snowstorms by snapping up all of the bread and milk at local stores as soon as rumors of flakes waft across the airwaves and trigger Old Man Cyrus' trick knee.

Invariably, those are the two items that disappear before all else. And like the prototype drones they are, the media report the disappearance of Bread and Milk with an urgency that would make one believe there's no way Bread and Milk will be returnin' to these parts before mid-July or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.

(To be fair, local newscasts can make a sunny day sound like a radiation anomaly.)

Leading me to wonder: if snowed in for more than 24 hours, presumably with your electricity intact, how much of that bread and milk are you really going to consume, especially if your cupboards are filled with delicacies that present gourmet options beside toast and cereal?

And if your electricity goes out for more than 24 hours and you're snowed in, won't you need something beyond bread and milk to sustain you? After all, the milk will go bad and the bread will mold eventually, especially if you stockpiled 5,000 loaves and 200 gallons. Why place all of your hopes for survival on those two foodstuffs? Why not stock up on canned foods, bottled water, dry goods, etc.? Why not purchase a sled and sled-dogs so you can mush your way to McDonald's?

I mean, there's a reason why the military arms its soldiers with MREs and not loaves of bread and bottles of milk.

Which leads me to conclude: tradition. Somewhere along the line, we got the impression from our forefathers that, in the event of an emergency, the very basic needs in life could be met with the very basic of food items: bread and milk. And like most ideas passed down through the generations, we cling to this tradition in spite of changing technology, changing times, changing science, changing knowledge, and changing prices.

It doesn't make sense, but hey, since when has the human race acted logically?

Which is why, today, right before our relatively benign snowstorm intensified, my wife and I felt compelled to make a mad dash to Walmart. Well, I was working. My wife did the mad dashing.

We dashed even though we had plenty of food in our cupboard. Even though we had bread in our box. Even though the snow would only keep us indoors for this evening. Even though there's a grocery store at the bottom of our hill and another one a few blocks over that we could have easily walked to should our craving for bread and milk have gotten the better of us and our very survival was dependent on consuming those two items before we consumed each other.

As a wise man once said, "Man shall not live by bread and milk alone, but if a snowstorm is a-comin', you best be hurryin' out and gettin' yourself some."

So, if you're in the path of this storm, I hope you have all of the pasteurized and processed basics needed for your short-term, if not your long-term survival... 


  1. And I hope that the milk you bought isn't dated 25 July... ;)

    1. Wait. Milk doesn't age like wine?

      Well, there goes another entrepreneurial idea down the drain...

  2. “Although if I were him, I'd be furtively wondering if Michael Bloomberg wasn't trying to sabotage my first day...”

    Based on his first day in office, and by comparison to every “snowstorm-NYC-mayor” since John Lindsay, Bill De Blasio looks to be the greatest NYC mayor in history! He got the city through a major snow without incident, as well as shoveling his own snow – and, before it’s done, he has HIS KID shoveling to boot!

    …Let see just how long that initial glow lasts!

    Underdog reference alert: Can’t you just hear Michael Bloomberg muttering (as Simon Bar Sinister): “Simon… er, Michael says: GO SNOW!” (1)

    (1) "Go Snow": [Simon] Invents the Snow Gun to turn people into snowmen and snowwomen. After he snowed Underdog into submission, Underdog managed to defrost himself and then flew around in circles, making Simon and Cad too dizzy to continue their plan.