I remember reading an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow a few years back in which she claimed she’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can. I remember thinking, oh shut up Gwyneth, here’s a pipe and here’s a can of cheese, which are you inhaling? Pretty sure it would be the cheese, maybe in a back alley, but whatever.
Anyway, my kid was home sick this week and he was feeling especially sad because he missed his big sister who’d gone back to school up north. Late in the day, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up his antibiotic, and on my way out the door he asked me to buy him a can of “spray cheese”.
“What for?”, I asked, knowing he’s never had that crap on my watch and even if I’d ever bought such a thing, which I hadn’t, he would never, ever, eat it. He said, “Well, believe it or not, I’ve always wanted to try it. You know I’ve been working hard to try new foods and I really want to expand my diet so I’ll be as healthy as possible….and plussss….”
I waited patiently, because there’s ALWAYS a plus.
“And plus, I really, REALLY need it to help me fight the forces of EVIL!”
Ah, yes, Captain Awesome and his sidekick Nacho Cheese Man. Ever read the series? It’s a collection of goofy, action-packed, short chapter books about little boy superheroes with plenty of the requisite little boy humor. Even though my kid read the whole series a few years ago, he still picks up the books now and then, especially when he’s tired or sick and wants to read for comfort.
Anyway, we had a brief conversation about what fighting the forces of evil with a can of spray cheese might look like. I swear I tried not to squash his spirit as I shook my head no…no…nope…NO. And then I reminded him that our kitchen and family room look like a full blown recycling center because he’s building an arcade or something out of boxes and assorted trash and I’m not allowed to touch it! And I have a rubber frog soaking in a pot of water in my bathtub while we wait for it to grow to three times its original size!
His eyes lit up. I swear I saw those little thought bubbles full of wild ideas floating in the air over his head. You know the ones. He rubbed his hands together as he let loose a dastardly cackle too (eh, I made that last part up, just thought it sounded good, sorry). But anyway, spray cheese and a rubber frog. In a bathtub. Bingo.
After an already longggg day, I was pretty much screwed when the negotiations began, so I quickly said ok to one – I said ONE – can of spray cheese. I might have been able to shut the whole thing down if Husband had been home to help me. But he wasn’t. He was on work travel. So yeah, here’s your can of spray cheese, son. Knock yourself and the frog and the whole wide world out.
And then I went to the grocery store and started actually looking for the crap.
Stay with me for a minute and picture this….First, I went to the cracker aisle because where else would it be? But no. Then I went to the chip aisle because I thought maybe I’d find it next to the jars of queso. Nope. I stopped to think for a minute and then continued my search. I went to the pasta aisle thinking I might find it near the grated Parmesan cheese, but not even the Parmesan cheese was there. The condiment aisle. Nope. The deli area. Wrong. Even though I know damn well the crap doesn’t EVER need to be refrigerated, I checked the dairy aisle. Zilch. I stopped again, completely lost, and then realized I was embarrassed to ask an employee where I might find it for fear I’d be judged as the Mom who buys spray cheese for her kid. I might have caved about the Poptarts and Fruit Loops I swore I’d never buy, but c’mon, cheese in a can has to be crossing some sort of line, right? Even if I think Gwyneth is full of shit with the whole crack comment. I stood there wracking my brain and then I pulled out my phone and Googled, “In what section of my local grocery store might I find spray cheese?” Just then, another shopper turned down my aisle with her cart and we exchanged smiles. She was a fellow member of the mature demographic and seemed friendly enough, so I thought what the hell and asked, “You know that spray cheese in a can? I have no idea where to find it or what it’s called because I’ve never bought it and I wouldn’t be trying to buy it now except my kid is home sick and he really wants it even though he’s never had it because I swear I’ve never bought it. He read about it in a book and its just that he’s really sick again and he misses his sister and my husband is on work travel and I’m all alone and I’m so freaking tired, otherwise I wouldn’t be buying it and I’ve looked everywhere….” And then she goes, “Cheez Whiz! Wow, I haven’t thought about that stuff in years! Did you look in the cracker aisle?” I told her I’d looked there and in all of the other places she suggested, but I couldn’t find it in anywhere. We laughed about the whole cheese in a can thing for a minute, she wished me luck, I thanked her, and moved on. I finally broke down and went to ask a kid at one of the registers for help and he had absolutely NO IDEA what I was talking about. I guess his Mom never stooped to buying him cheese in a can. I guess his Mom didn’t let him skip baths on pool swimming days because she didn’t realize that chlorine is an antiseptic. I guess his Mom didn’t count pizza sauce as a vegetable or Edy’s rainbow sherbet, made with real fruit juice, as a fruit. Too bad. So, anyway, I did what any desperate Mom with a chronically sick kid at home would have done. I started at one end of the store and went up and down every blasted aisle until I found it.
Just so you know, it’s not called Cheez Whiz anymore. It’s called Easy Cheese and I found it exactly where I should have known it would be:
In the deodorant and personal needs aisle.
I nearly peed myself laughing. Doesn’t take much these days, but still.
I triumphantly returned home, gave my kid his first dose of antibiotic, and then sprayed a wad of Easy Cheese directly into his mouth while giving Gwyneth the virtual finger. He gagged, just like I knew he would. As we ate dinner and then got ready to call it a night, he planned the details of his battle against the morphing frog in the bathtub, armed with his can of spray cheese. But when we got up to the bathroom he said, “Mom, would it be ok if I save the spray cheese for something else? I think taking it into the tub with me will be really gross and it will probably make me gag even worse than earlier.” I breathed a sigh of relief, told him I thought he was right, and we talked about other uses for the crap that wouldn’t include gagging, or attracting bugs or rodents, or requiring a cleaning crew on steroids. Or worse.
He woke up with a brilliant idea. He’s planning to take it to school for his Valentine’s Day party and wants to line his friends up for Cheez Whiz shots straight into their mouths. I understand that his new plan might not go over well with his teacher, but I just want to be there when he asks her about it because THAT’S the kind of Mom I’ve become.