Saturday night, I awoke from my early evening nap to the smell of clam chowder simmering on the stove. My tummy rumbled. Bumly-bum, it went. I stumbled down the hallway, running fingers through my nappy hair, to find my roommate Jeremy working hard on a can of New England chowdah. The soup had simmered, per the label, and he plopped a spoon into the bubbly brew. It became quickly apparent, as he dumped a bag of shredded cheddar into the pot, that he planned to handle this meal all by himself.
I went back to my room to get dressed and head over to the Lebanese restaurant around the corner to grab some grub. While searching for a pair of socks that matched, I heard Jeremy emit a frustrated yell down the hall.
I gave up on my search and settled upon one sock with paisley print and another of square pattern. I went into the dining room to see what was the matter. Jer said that the cheddar was moldy.
‘How could chowder be moldy?’ I asked. ‘It’s in a can.’
‘Not chowder—cheddar,’ Jer said.
‘There was moldy cheddar in my chowder.’
Either way, he had eaten mold. He thought he was going to die. I assumed this statement was hyperbole and invited him to join me at Aladdin’s. He accepted and we enjoyed a wonderful meal with wonderful service. Over dinner, Jer mentioned how disgusted he was at having ingested mold. I said that was nothing, those few spoonfuls he swallowed.
I told him of an instance when I was a college sophomore and living in the dorms. One night, I stormed into my room glassy-eyed and with a mondo case of the munchies. It was late and the room was dark and I didn’t possess the energy to root around for something nutritious or fresh. The first foodstuff that presented itself was a box of twinkies. Without turning the lights on, I tore the wrapping off and slid sweet victory down my gullet. I had to admit that victory didn’t taste as sweet as I had remembered in my youth. In fact, it tasted pretty stale. Maybe even tangy. At the time, I didn’t question the safety of the twinkie, though I did decide to stop at one.
The next afternoon, I rolled out of bed, with the bumly-bums still sounding within me. I grabbed that box of twinkies and yanked out breakfast. When my hand emerged, it clutched a green, slimy cylinder. These sweets had not only turned; they had started to decompose. The verdant shaft staring back at me was not a twinkie. And I had eaten a whole one just the night before!
‘So did you get sick?’ Jeremy asked, setting down his kebab.
‘No, see, I think it worked the other way,’ I said. ‘I’m pretty sure it heightened my immune system. Like penicillin. It made me impervious to illness for like, two years.’
Our super hot server overheard me and said I was gross. I shrugged. Of course, when illness did come back around, two years later, it hit me hard. I was laid up for a good two weeks. My roommate at the time suggested that I eat another moldy twinkie. I couldn’t go through with it though. First off, I couldn’t find another moldy twinky. Second, I didn’t want to try to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Third, I’m pretty sure it’s a delicate equation—eating the penicillin twinkie. You have to be the right amount of hungry and it has to have the right amount of mold.