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It was 186 degrees today and Captain OCD was full of energy even though he hates the heat, but he manages to not whine about it while at the same time getting stuff done. I can do neither of those things. He asked me to go to the store to get the ingredients to make a blue-cheese-stuffed-bacon-wrapped-chicken-breast recipe he saw on one of the five shows he watched on the Food Network this morning. He gets lots of ideas there but says that he gets some of the ingredients and techniques mixed up from show to show because he watches a lot of them when he wakes up early. I’ve mentioned once or seventy times that it’s possible to find nearly every recipe ever prepared on the Food Network from their Web site, but where’s the fun in that?

I complained that it was too hot to drive to the store to get the ingredients he needed to make dinner, but he had work to do. He was terribly excited to make dinner, but first wanted to finish re-doing the entry, which involved moving large plants, dismantling an old waterfall and pond, reusing that rock to make new rock walls and outcroppings, planting new plants, tearing up a stepping-stone path and putting it down again (because I did the first one many years ago and my talents are not to be found in the laying down of stepping-stone paths) and generally tidying up the large area. When I got home from the arduous task of driving to the store and buying food for someone else to cook (although I made a lovely fruit salad) and asked what the broken sections of pipe in the driveway were for, I learned that he also had to fix the sewer line that goes to the septic tank that he’d mistaken for a particularly intransigent rhododendron root. I said that it was a good thing the washer wasn’t going. He didn’t understand why that would be a problem, so I explained that that would have made for a muddy mess. “Yeah, and it’s a good thing we don’t have nine toilets that were all being flushed at the same time.” My idea of the difficulty in fixing a pipe apparently differs from his.

By the time he was done with the yard a few hours later and had taken a shower, it was too late for him to make the dinner he’d been planning and he’d worked a little too hard in the heat and was exhausted. He said a fish sandwich sounded good and that he’d run down to Fred’s to get some fish fillets. I rarely go in the store (Captain OCD is in there at least once a day), but I’m fairly certain that Fred does not carry fillets of any kind:

“You mean fish sticks?”

“Yeah, fish sticks.”

“Yuck, not from Fred’s!”

“They’re fish sticks. What difference does it make?”

“Because they’re probably old and freezer burnt and gross.”

“No, I’ve gotten them there before and they’re good. He goes through a lot of that kind of stuff.”

Oh, he does not. Even though fish sticks are my favorite meat, I’m not sure “good” is ever an apt modifier for them. I told him he didn’t need to buy any for me and that I would find something in the refrigerator to eat.

I didn’t see what he brought home, but saw a plastic bag full of something on the counter. They were sort of squarish things of differing sizes, and they were kind of pale with an uneven coating of something not recognizable.

“What are these?”

“Fish sticks.”

“Those are not fish sticks.”

“Yes they are.”

“Then what kind of off-brand are they?”

“Van de Kamp’s.”

“No way.”

 So he showed me the box he’d already thrown away.

“See, ‘Sealed in Freshness Pouch’!”

He was right on both counts, but even after closely examining the things in the plastic bag I had a hard time coming up with the fish sticks I know and love. So I searched for an expiration date because, while I know I’m always right, it never hurts to have documentary proof.

See that date up there under the title? It’s very nearly July 2008. See that date on the box of fish sticks? It’s very nearly a year old. My guess is that fish sticks have a long official shelf life, so I shudder to think of how old that box really is. I doubt that fish sticks go bad as long as they stay frozen, but they get dry and misshapen (which hints at the lack of a consistent frozen state) and stuck together and the coating comes off.

“Yuck! You have to take those back.”

“Why? They’re fine.”

“Look at the them! And you can’t let Fred get away with this! It’s disgusting!”

“I’ll take one box back, but I’m eating these.”

“You bought TWO BOXES?!”

Last time I looked, he was enjoying his fish sandwiches. No way will he bother to take the other box back.