Ordinarily, I am not a slave to temptation.
Dessert, for example. It may be tempting, but I can take it or leave it, pretty much, without too much difficulty.
Occasionally, though, temptation jumps up and seizes control of me and there’s not a thing I can do about it. For example, the other day in the grocery store. I had just a few things to buy and was well on my way to completing the list when all of a sudden I was overtaken by an insane desire for … Olive loaf.
Yes. Olive loaf. Everyone else in the world gets derailed by things like pie and cake. Me, I get my head turned by bologna with chunks of green stuff in it.
Sometimes I really wonder about myself
It’s not like I have any great childhood memories of olive loaf. In fact, I can’t remember it ever being in the house. Regular bologna, sure. We ate tons of it, along with ring bologna and bologna salad, too.
Pickle loaf, yes, because Dad liked it. Same for old-fashioned loaf (whatever the heck that was) and pimento loaf (see above under olive loaf, but with red flecks in the bologna instead of green ones) and braunschweiger (the very thought of which makes me slightly nauseous). But not olive loaf.
In other words, I cannot explain the attraction. Maybe there’s some part of my brain that thinks of olive loaf as the most exotic of the bologna variants.
In fact, Bill Daley, writing in the Hartford Courant about 20 years ago, called olive loaf “the exotic temptress of the deli counter.” It’s nice to know that someone else out there sees it as I do.
Maybe it’s because I like olives and I like bologna, and it only stands to reason that I’ll like them together.
Or maybe it’s just because I can be exceedingly weird sometimes.
Stuff finds its way into my grocery cart, and I am hard-pressed to explain it. Fish sticks, for example. Practically every supermarket in the 317 area code has a perfectly nice fish counter nowadays, with plenty of glistening, fresh (well, sort of — this is the Midwest, after all) seafood resting on banks of sparkling ice.
And yes, I have been known to buy some of the product offered there.
But for every head-on trout or tuna steak I have chosen, I have also bought a box of frozen fish sticks.
(For this one, I know why. I went to school during the era when fish sticks showed up on the cafeteria menu every Friday without fail, and for some reason I loved them. My friends all thought I was out of my fourth-grade gourd, but I didn’t mind. After all, they gave me the fish sticks they had no intention of eating. Bonus for me.)
I am a sucker for exotic produce (star fruit, anyone?), pistachio nuts, designer root beer, every variety of Klondike bar and kidhood cereal favorites, but I know this about myself.
Which gets me back to the olive loaf and the fact that I have no earthly idea why it winds up in my grocery cart every once in a while.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I have a fresh package in the refrigerator, and lunchtime is coming. I think you can guess what’s on the menu.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.