Sometimes, Trader Joe, you leave a bad taste in my mouth

Dear Joe:

Out of loyalty and a naïve belief that things could change, for a long time I avoided contemplating our fraying relationship. I tried to work through the rough patches. I strove to appreciate anew all the reasons we have been together for so long. I copped to the fact that I am not blameless in the rift--after all, I have been known to enter through your exit.

But it's time to confront the deeper issues. For me, that time is now, because you don't bring me French Village yogurt anymore.

It's a disturbing pattern of behavior, Joe, and you need to stop it.

The yogurt episode reminds me of how you treated Rings n Things. It wasn't like I loved those low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt cookies--really, how good can a cookie be without any of that stuff?--but they satisfied my lust for sweets without completely compromising my commitment to healthful eating. And they were yours, Joe; you made them for me.
And apparently only for me. They sold poorly, and are long gone. Gone from the shelves, just like your Trader Joe signature canned mushrooms that were to other canned brands what swiss steak is to a bone-in rib eye at Cut.

But I hang in. I'm there for you, Joe, biweekly fighting the mosh pit that is your Santa Monica parking lot, because you give me what nobody else does. Sometimes, anyway. Remember the good old days when you gave me Chock Full O Nuts ground coffee for a buck less than Albertsons?

Where is it now? Consigned, alas, to the "discontinued" part of your life that seems to describe our partnership, Joe. What's left?

Say, cheese. Always among your more attractive features. I admire your impressively priced wedge of brie, and your singularly tasty parmesan, which I do so love but eat so sparingly. And that's the problem, Joe, because relationships involve compromise, and frankly I don't see you trying. Why must every package of your store-wrapped cheese be of uniform size? Why won't you offer a smaller portion for diminutive dairy diets? Never have I consumed more of your parmesan, Joe, than I have thrown away. Yes, I know it's best when aged, but, really, what does it say about your respect for me if I'm expected to pay for what ultimately becomes a moldy morsel harder than titanium?

There was a time I forgave your discontinued ways, your high-volume tunnel vision, your inconsideration about me and my needs; I would console myself with a robust bowl of your soy granola cereal, that nutty, protein-packed, resolutely crunchy simple gustatory wonder. I would savor it slowly, warmed by thoughts of how different you were, how lucky I was to have you.

Then you dumped it. And forgive me for taking it personally. As I did upon learning you had decided that no longer was I--or anyone--worthy of your low-fat lemon-flavored mayonnaise, a supplement that rendered a basic tuna sandwich otherworldly.

I was so distraught over your unspeakable lemon mayonnaise behavior that I committed my own unpardonable breach: I raided my mother's pantry to confiscate the unopened jar I had given her a year earlier. My only hope for redemption is that, never having sampled that magic elixir, she knows not what she missed. To this day, her involuntary gift remains in my possession, virginally intact, awaiting, perhaps, the worst day of my life.

And Joe? With the French Village yogurt blunder, I'm thinking that just might be today.

What is your problem with commitment?

Sincerely,

Ellen


More by Ellen Alperstein:
Magic mountain
The uneven playing field of workers' compensation
Horsing around in Del Mar
Two Jews walk into a Catskills hotel...
Continuing education at the county fair
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