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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Do No Farm

(Yo, science nerds! For this week’s ridiculous sciencyness, head over to Secondhand Science to read all about convergent evolution. It’s not just for cartoon squirrels and Mario and Luigi any more!)

If there’s a disadvantage to being a smartass — and no one’s saying there is; I’m just hypothesizing if — it’s that you can’t really turn it off. Even when you’re not being a smartass, you’re being a smartass.

Or people assume you’re being a smartass, which has more or less the same effect. Namely, you get punished for being a smartass. And that hurts — on those rare and unexpected occasions when you’re not, in fact, being an actual smartass.

(I’m reminded of a quote by wise man and donut connoisseur Homer J. Simpson:

“I don’t mind being called a liar when I am lying, or when I’m about to lie, or just finished lying. But not. When I’m telling. The truth!”

I don’t lie quite so often. But apply the sentiment to smartassery, and it fits.

Also, donuts are pretty great. Shut up.)

Recently, I suspect I was deemed to be a smartass, and now I’m being punished. But I didn’t mean to be a smartass. I was only trying to improve my diet, and also help a lady with her omelets. I haven’t been in this much trouble over food since I added tabasco to my grandpa’s applesauce. Here’s the background on what happened:

Last summer, I joined one of those “farm share” deals, where people who know which end of a hoe to use grow a bunch of vegetables, and sell them to us useless post-modern types whose survival skills extend about as far as using Javascript to flash “SOS” on a web page.

This particular “CSA” — which I just learned stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”, and not “Crate Stuffed with Asparagus”, as I previously thought — turned out to be very convenient. A few others in my company joined in, so every week the farm folks would deliver our boxes of veggies right to the office. No picking up at some farm stand out in the boonies, or tracking down Haystack Slim on the back forty to get my share. Show up at work, and boom — box of greens. Easy.

It stayed that way through summer and fall, so I signed up for the winter share. And no one else did. The whole company is allergic to kohlrabi or some shit like that, I guess. But with just one box, the farm stopped delivering to our door. So I picked my veggies up at a site more or less on my commute home from work. Not as convenient, but still a long way from Haystack’s back forty.

“I got 99 first-world problems, but a CSA ain’t one.”

(Although to be fair, he’s now down to a “back thirty-two”. They don’t call him “Slim” for nothing, you know.)

I opted out of the late winter and spring sessions — trudging through a foot of snow to pick up three pounds of celery root I don’t want got a little old, but when summer rolled around this year, I hopped back in. I hoped I wasn’t the only one, and happily my company got their culinary shit back together, a few employees signed up, and we got deliveries at the office again. And there was much rejoicing. I got 99 first-world problems, but a CSA ain’t one.

At least, it wasn’t. Or ain’tn’t, I guess. For a while.

When signups rolled around, some people only wanted to dip a toe back in the farm pool. That meant buying an “egg share”, for a dozen eggs every week. But you could only get an egg share with a veggie deal, for some reason. So I let a lady — an executive lady, it turns out, a real VIP in our company — piggyback on my greens to get her eggs. But we only came to this arrangement after I’d signed up. And that’s where the fun started.

I emailed the farm to make the change, and received a response from a person — we’ll call that person “Patty” — who told me to go to their website, log in and add the eggs.

So I went to their website. I logged into their website. There was nowhere to add an egg share. I emailed Patty back to get alternate instructions.

Patty replied, telling me precisely which page and section the link was under.

I went to the page and looked at the section. No link was under there, or anywhere, so I took a screenshot, emailed back and basically shrugged over the internet. Maybe Patty, farm goods administrator, sees a link there. But I, lowly vegetable monkey, do not.

Patty replied, telling me that Patty would take care of it. Patty would make sure the eggs were added before the first delivery, in about a month.

Three days short of a month later, I logged into the website, saw no egg share, and hadn’t heard from Patty. Thinking maybe Patty was some sort of intern — associate farmhand? cow milker spotter? — who’d forgotten or gone rogue, I sent a note to the main farm email, saying Patty had been in touch, but she’d apparently dropped the ball.

I got a response, rather quickly. It was from Patty. Patty said that Patty would definitely take care of it (good). Patty further said that Patty was the owner of the farm, actually (oh… sorry). And further, that Patty was emphatically not a “she” (ouch).

It’s possible I should have known some of that. They do send a newsletter every week with the produce. But I get about as far as the endive salad recipe in those things before I get bored and throw them away. So I didn’t mean to upset Patty. But I can see where she might be a little sensitive at this point.

Sorry, he. He might be sensitive. Yikes.

Still, the farm (finally) added the eggs. My veggies were delivered every week — probably spat on, but that’s still “organic”, right? — and VIP lady got her eggs. Everything was great, all summer long, and I didn’t have to worry about accidentally poking the Patty bear.

Until fall.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the fall share, with the VIPs eggs on rider — and no one else did. Down to one box again, the farm — meaning, Patty — emailed to ask if I would pick up my stuff at the other place again. I groused a little. I pouted. It’s possible I called Patty “she” again — completely unintentionally, of course — but I agreed to make the drive.

And that’s when Patty got her his revenge.

Last week was the first for fall, so I schlepped over to the pickup spot, and found… no box. There were boxes for other people, and eggs, but nothing with my name on it. The delivery person had left a list, and I wasn’t on that, either. So I called the farm — and got Patty, naturally — to ask, whassup?

Oh! I’m sorry. It looks like we accidentally sent your box to Belmont. Is that somewhere you can get to?

In fact, it was not. The pickup spot I was at is, give or take, on my way home. Belmont, on the other hand, is, give or take, on my way to Canada. Assuming I ever drove to Canada from work on a Tuesday evening in September, and why would I do that? It’s not even maple syrup season, for crissakes.

Patty apologized, and promised to make up for it this week with a “full share” box this week, the size up from the one I usually get. Double the produce for double the trouble. That was a bit of a worry — with just the wife and I at home, we struggle to get through a “small share” every week. But it seemed fair, so I emailed the VIP lady that her eggs were 86’ed and called it a night.

And Patty, evidently, set about plotting his next move.

This week, I showed up — and indeed, there was a double-big box waiting with my name on it. And an extra-sized — 18 rather than 12 — carton of eggs. That was great.

Until I checked the other boxes, and also found my usual small share box, and another carton of eggs. I now had roughly twelve pounds of vegetables and enough eggs to choke Cool Hand Luke. The only bright side is that they weren’t delivered to frigging Belmont, with three gallons of milk and a crate of fresh cow pies.

I lugged everything to my car, drove it home and stuffed the fridge top to bottom with veggies. Now I can’t get to anything without a stalk of celery or some leafy-assed lettuce smacking me in the face. And when I dropped three dozen eggs off for the VIP, she looked at me like I had two heads — and one of them was a Napa cabbage.

How am I supposed to use all of these?

I don’t know, man. Omelets for dinner? Garbage can lid frittatas? Thirty pounds of custard?

I got my own problems over here. Like how to get rid of fourteen acorn squash in a week without inviting a local Wampanoag tribe over for an early Thanksgiving.

And also, picking out some sort of apology card for Patty. Because otherwise, who knows what in the hell I’m getting from the farm next week? No boxes? Six boxes? A pissed-off goat riding a tractor? Could be anything.

I guess it’s what I get for being a smartass — even when I’m not trying to be a smartass. If I could turn it off, maybe I wouldn’t be overrun with organic free-range heirloom potatoes or whatever other shit is slowly starting to rot in the kitchen right now. Either that, or I should start reading the newsletters I get in email very, very carefully.

Nah, screw that. I’d rather deal with the veggie guy. Bring it on, Patty.

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