Nut Butter

For all those folks eagerly adding puppies and babies to their burgeoning roster of liabilities, you should know that I have a friend who once drunkenly rubbed peanut butter on his testicles in an effort to entice a small dog to lick them. And it worked. I am not making this up. If I were inclined to spin imaginary tales, they would involve me being a superhero for the unfortunate, not something like this.

The dog belonged to my sweet, unsuspecting cousin. I don’t know what kind it was and don’t care. I don’t know what kind of peanut butter my buddy used but am slightly curious. All I saw was a flash of the energetic pet lapping away at his crotch before I crumbled to the ground in shock. I can still hear him giggling, “Tang, it feels good.”

Whenever I have a vague, undecipherable nightmare, I trace it back to this searing image. That poor dog never had a chance. All it wanted was some peanut butter. This could have been its only chance to taste that enchanting deliciousness, usually tucked away in jars very difficult to open without opposable thumbs. So the animal saw the prize and took it, hopefully not noticing a salty aftertaste.

In a candid conversation with myself, when speculating how I would behave in the dog’s paws, I cannot say the result would be any prettier. If the only way for me to eat peanut butter was off a plate of hairy Venezuelan balls, I would do it too. By no means would I allow my tongue to go anywhere near the shaft, and I certainly would not lick the skin all the way clean like the back of a yogurt wrapper. But yeah, I would go for it. Quality of life has everything to do with how you frame opportunities and costs. Peanut butter is worth a little scrotum in my peripheral vision, especially if people around me enjoyed it all the time and this might be my only shot for a while. It’s a trigger food.

Everyone has trigger foods. These not only taste amazing and stimulate the primal senses like none other, but they reach deeper spots in the consciousness. When in your line of sight, they trigger obsessive desire and won’t let you concentrate on anything but a rabid quest for quantity. They singlehandedly reboot diets and resolutions. For white people, I hear a trigger food is hummus. For black people, fried chicken. Peanut butter is one of two for me. The other is pizza. Why is it so good? I don’t understand. We just never grow out of it. Pizza days in elementary school set off irrational happiness, and now at almost 30 years old, I still want to start a dance party upon seeing a stack of pies.

Three straight weeks I’ve gone on a pizza binge — 19 slices in 28 hours, 12 in one afternoon, treating the Pizza Hut in the bowling alley like it was the hottest new restaurant in L.A. The thing is, I have forced myself to go to these gastropub-ethnic-fusion-farm-to-table type establishments recently in an effort to be social. I appreciate the creativity, and the food ranges from decent to memorable. But for those teasing portion sizes at inflated prices plus tip, I would much rather be at home eating Paisano’s in my underwear while watching Shark Tank.

Pizza simply always sounds good, whether hot or cold, gourmet or grocery store, fresh out of the oven or unrefrigerated overnight. On the same trip to San Francisco marred by the convergence of canine, peanut butter and nutsack, I was accused of eating pizza out of the dumpster while blacked-out drunk. I defended myself the next day with a crumpled receipt from the pizza place, but the time stamp did not really line up with the hour of observation if you want to be overly forensic about it. So what if I grabbed a slice out of the trash? It would still be better than eating it off a pubic plate, and even then I might sneak a bite under extreme circumstances.