by Kurt Muzikar
When I was seventeen and a senior at Magnolia High, I read an article in the Orange County Register about senior citizens who supplement their diets with dog food. It’s a cheap source of protein.
I decide to do an experiment. I go to Alpha Beta to the dog food section. Though the article was about canned dog food, I won’t go there. I purchase instead a box of dog biscuits.
I open up the box. There are different colored thumb-sized kernels. I wonder if the different colors have different flavors. I pick out an ochre one and note the texture on my tongue. I don’t want to crunch down rather I moisten it first. I roll it around in my mouth. Once wet, it has a certain palatability. Not too bad. I bite down on it. It breaks discreetly into four or five pieces which I roll around in my mouth. I push the pieces to the back of my mouth and crunch down with my molars. I swallow. It tastes a little sweet; kind of earthy and grassy. I definitely need water when I eat these.
Now I take a green one and do the same. There isn’t much difference. Doing a blind test on these will result in the same.
I wonder if they are softened if they’ll be easier to chew. I put them in a steamer for just a second. One second does nothing. Five seconds and they’re soggy. I determine that steaming the biscuits isn’t a good idea. It’s like leaving Cheerios in milk for ten minutes. Dog biscuits definitely need to be crunched. Palatability has as much to do with texture as flavor.
I carry a pocketful of dog bicuits, a new protein source, around in my pocket for a few weeks.
John, the senior class president, lives across the street from me. We helped him get him elected by taking down the opponents’ signs the night before the election.
“Kurt, will you take Jenny to the prom? We’ll double date. She likes you. I’ll pay for everything,” he says.
“John, I don’t want to go.” I say.
“I’ll buy the corsage and everything. It’ll be fun.”
“Okay, I guess,” I say. Jenny attends Triton High School. She’s a pretty blonde with nice skin.
I wear my suit that I’ve stolen from Sears.
The football players, the cheerleaders, and all the others I don’t associate with are there. It’s not really my scene.
We drop Jenny off and I go home.
The next day Jenny calls me and wants to come over.
I have no interest in Jenny or a long-term relationship with any girl. I haven’t kissed a girl since 8th grade. I can’t even imagine being with a girl at this time in my life.
Jenny is at my door. I ask her in and we sit down at the kitchen table.
“You know, I didn’t tell you yesterday. You notice I wasn’t eating. I’m on a diet,” I say.
She looks me confused. I’m 5’10” and weigh 138 pounds.
I pick up the box of dog biscuits.
“You see, I believe Americans eat worse than their pets. Americans eat crap food. Twinkies, Doritos, fast food, junk. I want to reform the American diet and show the possibility of getting essential food supplementation at your average grocery store economically.”
I take a biscuit from the box, put it my mouth and suck, then I crunch and swallow it down.
She looks at me aghast and says, “I gotta go. I’ll see you later.”
That was the last time I saw Jenny.
A few years later, walking around Calcutta barefoot, I end up standing in line to receive a sorghum-molasses mixed food supplement sent from the World Health Organization to aid the Bangladesh refugees in town. They hand me a ball of dough. As I chew, I think it tastes like grass, a little sweet, like Dog Biscuits.
Kurt Muzikar grew up as a free-range as a child of the 1960’s. He has compiled many stories about growing up with a different point of view (undiagnosed). Kurt graduated with a degree in nuclear physics from UCSB in the 1980’s. He never worked in the field. He was employed until recently as a house painter. Kurt has a highly evolved eye for color and can match any color from memory. He also loves to make things more compact and loves efficiency. Kurt is the ultimate recycler creating many different efficient household things from his recycling excursions.