Eating Cheese Curds with Ethiopians in Minnesota

My step-son and I came up with the designation “black haired people” for what in America are generally regarded as “black people”. He’s an immigrant from Ethiopia and, believe it or not, Ethiopians don’t view themselves as “black”. Within the formerly so-called “dark continent”, not too different from the our own “paper bag test” South, our Yahoo brethren see shades, too.

But I digress. That the cashier was “black haired” is not the point. The point is that I’m funny.

I was making a last minute trip to HyVee to pick up snack foods (hence the cheese curd headline) for this holiday. I never, never let my step-son have soda, but today I was feeling an uncommon sensation—which I *think* you all would call “giving”—and so I picked up, not just any old soda, but a four-pack of some locally crafted grape soda. This detail matters because the four cans are packaged together with some sort of homespun, yellow plastic tops. Upon inspection, I noticed that these yellow tops were a bit dirty, but I figured that it just adds character or charm.

Next, keep in mind there’s a mask-mandating pandemic going on, I am checking out and the black-haired cashier advises, “You’re going to want to wash the lids before you drink them.”

Naturally, I become very curious and ask, “Why? Is there some sort of disease going around?”

Her body language leading the near-running retreat, she immediately reduces her initial warning to a casual comment, “Oh, no. They’re just dirty.”

“There’s no disease going around?!” I clarify, cautiously betraying that I believe this fact may be a little bit bigger news than at first glance. After taking a prefatory deep breath, “Hey everyone!” I fake yell, then dramatically pausing to scan for her name tag, I add, “Cindy here says it’s over! It’s over!! We can take off the masks!”

She laughed at the ridiculous life we were apart of. I laughed at the ridiculous life we were apart of.

I then assumed the lady behind me who had insisted I go first (I had fewer items) wondered, “Could this man be The Captain?” And then I went on my merry way.

Once home, I ate cheese curds while my wife fed the baby and my step-son recounted a funny part of a book he knew I had heard him laughing at last night while he read and I played the piano.



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