I wished Swamp Rabbit a Happy Thanksgiving, knowing this would set him off.
“What’s so happy about it?” he said. “This supply chain problem is making me crazy as a chinch bug.The Dollar Store is charging the same price as the Superfridge for tin foil, on account of the Superfridge ain’t got no overstock to sell cheap to the Dollar Store. Avocados are five dollars each at the Superfridge, and they ain’t stocked Philadelphia Cream Cheese for weeks now, even though we live in Philly. I had to steal the store brand yesterday.”
“How do you justify this theft habit of yours?” I said. “I’d better get you a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.”
“I ain’t justifyin’ nothin’,” he said. “If I’m hungry and broke, I do what I gotta do.”
Blame most of this mess on Covid-19, I told him. Food delivery all over the country is delayed. There’s a shortage of staples in some places, and of truckers and warehouse workers. Demand is outstripping supply. Go to a food pantry and ask for corn and they might give you string beans instead.
“I would have invited you to my shack but there’s no turkey dinner this year, it’s too expensive,” I said.
“I guess that means the price of hoagies went up,” he replied. “I know for a fact that buying turkey hoagies at Wawa — they’re called Gobblers and have cranberry sauce and gravy on them — was as close as you ever got to cookin’ Thanksgiving dinner.”
I told him the tradition of serving turkey as a holiday meal dates back many centuries in England, and that Charles Dickens‘s A Christmas Carol (1843), along with myths about America’s Pilgrim settlers, helped establish the holiday turkey tradition in the United States.
Swamp Rabbit rolled his eyes and told me to skip the history lesson, what he needed was a good meal.
“Your problem is you lack gratitude,” I said, handing him enough cash for two turkey hoagies. “It’s a well-known fact that people who practice gratitude tend to be healthier than ingrates like you.”
“Maybe so,” he countered. “But if there ain’t no food, there ain’t no gratitude.”