Once upon a time I had time. And I wasted ALL of it. I was good at that. One day, when I was still living in my parent’s house, with no bills or any obligations or any reason to exist, I decided to play me some video games and eat me some pistachios. I was 19 or 20 with an SNES and 2 pounds of natural pistachios and absolutely nothing else to do.
I was working at South Water Market as a hustler. South Water Market was a dry dock for produce distribution. I worked at the biggest wholesaler. A hustler is a man-monkey who stacks boxes and writes profanity everywhere. Neither one of these points is very important. I only mention them because that’s where I bought the pistachios and I’m a bad writer who can’t focus his thoughts.
I bought the pistachios from my good friend Mike. He was in charge of selling the mushrooms and the nuts. Because that makes sense. When I asked him how much 2 pounds of pistachios cost, he told me: “A buck three eighty.”
I spent a long time trying to figure out how much money he was talking about. I can’t tell when people are fucking with me. I think I was going to hand him $1.38. Because, technically there are infinite zeroes to the right of the decimal point. 1.38000000000 has the same value as 1.38. So 1.380 is the same as 1.38.
I just couldn’t figure out why the specification? I was new to wholesale. Did wholesale pricing operate the same as the gas pump? Where you have all the numbers to the right of the decimal and you just try to make them all zeroes, but you can never pull it off, no matter how many more times you squeeze the handle, and then you end up overflowing the tank?
Anyway, I went to put my order in and then Mike gave me an entirely different number and I paid it without mentioning the $1.38, because whatever.
So the glorious time had come to play some distraction on my Super Nintendo and pop some salty goodness in my mouth.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with games of video. But they pretty much demand that you look at them while you play them. And also push buttons. Both of those things are hard to do when you’re also trying to shell pistachios. I did my best, but I was 20. And this represented the limit of my multitasking abilities.
Which is to say: I wasn’t paying that much attention. But I did notice that a couple of the nuts had some fuzziness inside the shell. This is obviously a red flag for anyone who cares about the food they are eating. The 20 year-old version of me was not anyone. I munched away.
I was blazing through the game and the nut sack, when I came upon yet another fuzzy one. This time, instead of scooping out all the fuzzy goodness and eating it, I paused the game and inspected the nut. I was maturing.
When I pulled away the fuzz, a worm popped out. A still-living worm. It flopped confusedly in my hand. No doubt a relative of the 2 or 3 I had just carelessly battered with my tongue and ground with my teeth. And swallowed.
I did the proper thing then. I voiced my disgust with many loud protests and scraped my tongue for any remaining insect parts, knowing full well that any of that was surely being processed in my gut. But protocol requires the tongue-scraping thing.
Then I went back to the game and finished the bag. Because so what?
It’s been years since I’ve been able to waste so much time. But every once in a while, I’ll remember that I wasn’t always miserable and that I once ate worms and still wasn’t this miserable.
I used to think that the lesson to this story was “Proceed with caution and examine everything thoroughly!” A warning against the impulses of youth.
But as I get older, I think the lesson is: “Just keep going and don’t question the bad shit too closely. Move along. Forget you ate the cocoons. So what? Did you die? It was protein. You don’t remember the video game, but you remember the worms. You’re remembering the wrong stuff.”
I imagine that if you ask me years from now what the lesson was, I’ll tell you there was no lesson—it was just some stupid shit that happened once.