I’ve elevated the dubious label of compulsive hoarder to a new level above and beyond disheveled stacks of newspapers, precarious piles of unrecognizable clothes, and half-used tubes of anti-aging products that incorrectly promised to magically revitalize my skin’s youthful radiance and defy the aging process.
I collect cans of water chestnuts.
I love water chestnuts because they add a delightful crunch to tuna salad, chicken salad, green bean casserole, stir-fry meals, and stuffing. They’re also sinfully delicious wrapped in bacon and baked. As a health benefit, they are fat-free, (ignore the bacon grease), have low sodium, and there are only 14 calories in four water chestnuts. They do have significant amounts of potassium and carbohydrates, but it’s not like eating an entire banana cream pie. Save that for later.
So, what’s the problem? There are impossible to find in the grocery store. My cart automatically rolls to the aisles for wine, cookies, and other health foods, but the illusive chestnuts hide whenever I need them.
One evening before a holiday feast, I was frantically rummaging in the grocery store trying to find the last item on my list: water chestnuts. I had no luck in the canned vegetable aisles, in the produce section, or in the seasonal food display. I was confident they weren’t in the dairy or frozen food aisles, but looked anyway.
Desperate, I stood in the middle of the main aisle and shouted in my loudest outside voice, “Where are the water chestnuts?”
People froze. The jolly music stopped. A child cried and clung to her mother. I didn’t care.
A tired man appeared wearing a name tag that read, “Hi! I’m Todd. Can I help you?”
“Todd,” I exclaimed, grabbing his lapels, “I need water chestnuts. Now!”
Todd stepped back, smoothed his jacket, and nodded for me to follow him. Like a beacon of hope leading the lost and forlorn to the promised land, he maneuvered through the weary shoppers to a shelf containing cans of water chestnuts. They mocked me with their obvious placement in the oriental food section.
With profound gratitude and wild abandon, I scooped every can into my cart. I wasn’t concerned if anyone else wanted some. Todd disappeared, muttering to himself, and I ran the gauntlet to the checkout stand.
“Well, someone likes water chestnuts,” the young checker chirped as she counted two dozen cans. My twitching eye warned her to avoid further comments. I started to relax after arriving home and stacking all the cans into the pantry.
During the following weeks, I purchased several cases of water chestnuts. I often tiptoed into the pantry to see, touch, and count the precious little prizes. After opening and consuming the delightful morsels, I saved the empty cans because someday they could be valuable. I stored them beside my vintage coffee can collection.