“Lindberger Cheese” by Barbara Dexter
Well it was supermarket day. On this particular trip my mother, my older sister and my younger sister accompanied me for the brief walk to the mom and pop market down the street. The first stop after the obligatory gallon of milk grab was the deli counter. Here we were met by the friendly butcher. There was no teenager behind the counter to wait on customers. Here there place was to stock selves or if you were lucky run the cash register. Well the local butcher was stout and had a “beer belly”. His butcher dress whites were always stretched a bit thin about the mid-section. There was always fresh blood from his most recent workings marking the exact place where the counter met his middle. This never seemed to bother anyone. It was just accepted.
Well on this particular day my mother was distracted by my younger sister, G., when the butcher asked what she would like. She pointed to the familiar chunk of deli cheese that we always got. American cheese, yes truly American the artificial coloring, vegetable oils, and non-dairy ingredients and all. He asked if she was sure she wanted that particular cheese. She said yes she was sure and reaffirmed that was what she wanted. Well he diligently sliced the cheese, and I could not wait to get home and have a nice big cheese sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise. I could feel my mouth salivate. We apparently received a little over a pound of cheese, all nicely wrapped in the white deli paper, the tab taped closed, and the price marked with a wax pencil on the outside.
We made our way to the bread aisle. Of course we had to get some oranges as it was winter and we needed our vitamin C to increase to help fight off the snuffles. G. had to get some “Lucy Charms” and the rest of us made due with corn flakes. Finally the bread aisle is in sight. Where is it, where is it…there it is the “Wonder Bread”. It is the whitest bread available. It was so soft, that it was a challenge not to squish it on the way home. I’m not sure why we always purchased “Wonder Bread”. I had thought it was the taste, but now I am no longer positive.
We are off to the register. There is only one person in head of us. Not too bad for the average supermarket line, except this was the mom and pop market. The cashier needed to talk to everyone and chat about the local gossip. It was a great place to find out who was doing what to whom. We learned that our neighbor had a car for sale. It was thought to be in good condition but much too expensive. No there was the price check. It happened again, every time we were in line at the register, something was amiss with the person’s order ahead of us. It was time to scream the confusion over the microphone so the whole store could hear. Yes, this was the system, and surprisingly, it worked and did not cause any confusion. Everyone just accepted it as business as usual. We made it through the check out without any further delay.
We were all anxious to have a cheese sandwich. We walked at a fast pace in anticipation. When we arrived at home a short time later, H., my older sister, and I set some napkins and snack plates out. My mother went in to the kitchen and made up the sandwiches. When mine appeared in front of me, my mouth immediately went dry. What was the source of that foul stench? This was the most shockingly odorous thing I had ever encountered. I asked for a cheese sandwich from the cheese we just picked up at the market. I was told that is the cheese and now that we have it we have to eat it. My mother came over to me and yelled, eat your sandwich it is “Lindberger Cheese” (actually it is spelled Limburger, but that isn’t what she said). Well the young geek mind in me decided to experiment with items to try and get something to make this sandwich possibly acceptable enough so I could tolerate eating it. I began by stuffing pretzel sticks inside the layer of bread. I arranged them in a layer from left to right in such a way as they resembled lines crossing out the cheese. I replaced the bread layer. One bite and no I couldn’t do it. Next to attempt to alter the taste of my sandwich were the pickles. Do I choose dill or bread and butter pickles, I wondered. I chose bread and butter pickles. I actually like them better. I think it is because of all the sugar they are brined in. I layered the slices so they would form green spots in a perfectly uniform manner both on top of the pretzel layer and under the cheese layer. Of course G. and H. ate theirs with only a little whining and no creativity. I was on a mission to save my sandwich from the vile cheese. I attempted another bite. My mother was just about to yell at me when she saw that I was actually attempting to eat the food I was playing with. I chewed, I quickly swallowed that mess. Then who magically appears, my brother, Andy, I offer him my sandwich. He “inhales” it and thanks me for the lovely snack. I was never so happy to see him and have him eat my food, than I was at that moment. My mother came out and saw that my sandwich was finished and said well finally. I left her no explanation as to how it was eaten. I snuck in, grabbed an orange and proceeded to the other room where I could eat it in peace. I later said a special thank you to my brother. He did not understand. He did not notice anything different about the sandwich as he always ate so fast that I his taste buds didn’t have time to interact with the food.