Grade A Extra Large

From the series: Splatting Shit Against the Wall – Old or Rejected Writing Otherwise Collecting Dust

She rinses him under cold running water. Then she places him in the refrigerator, in a small bowl, with another of his own kind. The newest one rolls to the bottom, elevating the old one to a position touching and slightly above him. Then she closes the refrigerator door.

In the darkness, the older egg introduces himself from his newfound position of authority.

“My name’s Tarzan. Nice to meet you. Just boiled, eh?”

The other one is still warm.

“Yeah. Just boiled. That was one heck of a ride. I was a little nervous at first but it felt pretty good. Oh, and my name’s Buddy.”

“Too bad they never tell you that’s a once in a lifetime trip, Buddy. Otherwise we might appreciate it more. Too bad there’s never a need for a second boil,” Tarzan says.

There is something strange about Tarzan’s voice, aside from him being a talking egg. Buddy thinks maybe it is weak.

“I see. How long you been hanging out in here?” Buddy asks.

Tarzan explains he’s been in there a few days. He’d rolled to the back of the shelf and she found him just yesterday.  Then she placed him in their bowl which is too narrow for them to rest together as equals.

“It’s been kinda lonely in here,” he says. “Nice to have some company.”

“Any idea what she’s got planned for us?” Buddy asks. “I’m guessing deviled eggs or slice us up to add to a salad?”

“Or egg salad,” Tarzan says. “She’s got mayo toward the back and some relish in the door.”

They take a few minutes to size each other up from the small talk.

Then Tarzan asks his new friend about himself.

“So what are you, Buddy?”

“I’m Grade A Extra Large,” Buddy says.

“White or brown?”

Buddy says white.

“Thank God,” Tarzan says. “Those brownies are so damned filthy. And their manners are atrocious.”

Buddy wasn’t prepared to jump into politics or bigotry so quickly but he didn’t want to come off as rude or dismissive either.

“Really?” Buddy asks. “I thought they just come from different colored chickens?”

“Yeah,” Tarzan says. “Different color. Different breeding. Different product.”

Then Buddy whispers, “What about…..you know.”

“What?”

Buddy asks sheepishly, “You heard about the brown ones having bigger yolks?”

“Now don’t go spreading that stuff,” Tarzan says. “That’s just a myth meant to make us question our rank.”

“Thank God,” Buddy says. “I have been a little worried about that.”

The refrigerator door’s been closed a few minutes. Buddy begins to sense something foul.

“What the shit, man. Is there something spoiled in here?” Buddy asks. “Something doesn’t seem right.”

“She’s got some old lettuce down in the crisper that’s starting to turn. You’ll get used to it.”

Buddy wishes he could see but the light is off. He’ll try to remember to look next time the door opens.

“If the light was on you would see my shell is perfect. Did you notice that when she put you in here?”, Tarzan asks.

“No. It all happened too quick.”

“Check it out when she opens that door again. I bet your shell is perfect too.”

“Oh yeah?,” Buddy says. “Maybe.”

“Well, you’re Grade A, right?”, Tarzan asks.

“Yup,” Buddy replies. But he can’t get around that smell. “Goddamn, that odor’s pretty rank. That’s some really funky lettuce.”

“Like I said, you’ll get used to it.”

Tarzan then goes on to school his new acquaintance on what makes Grade A better than the others. First he explains the method of candling, which determines the interior quality of the egg. The method determines the size of the air cell and the quality of the white and yolk. He explains that, as Grade A, they are superior in at least one if not all of these criteria compared to the lowly Grade B.

“It’s amazing what you can tell about an egg by just holding it up to a bright light,” he says. “That’s essentially all candling is.”

Then he goes on to mention the lowlife B’s who get completely rejected for having blood or meat spots exceeding ⅛ inches.

“They literally don’t make our grade,” Tarzan says with pride.

Then he explains that the shell is actually permeable. How air enters over time, increasing the bubble inside the egg, causing the old and bad ones to float in water.

“It’s called the float test,” he says. “Simplest way to separate the good from the old and bad.”

“Interesting,” Buddy says. “But I can’t get round this goddamned smell.”

Tarzan tells him to forget about it and just listen.

“And that’s just the internal stuff. Let me tell you about our external grading.”

Tarzan goes on to explain that to be Graded A, they must be smooth and clean and oval. And no cracks or spots or stains. And, though it’s not necessary, everybody knows – preferably white.

“If there was a Grade A+, that’d be us”, he says.

“Hmmm. But what about duck eggs?” Buddy asks. “They can be spotted.”

“Yes. And that’s why they’re inferior.”

“But what’s the spots got to do with content?” Buddy asks.

“It’s about form and content, my friend. They go hand in hand,” Tarzan explains.

Then, before Buddy can begin again, Tarzan says, “I know you’ll be thinking about robin eggs and stuff like that. Isn’t blue prettier than white?, you’re probably wondering. Well, the simple answer is no. White is pure. Anything else is gimmickry.”

“Wow. These ethics of the egg are pretty profound,” Buddy realizes. “You’ve really got it figured out.”

“Well, I’ve had some time to think about it,” Tarzan concedes.

“But, you know,” Buddy adds after some thought. “I once dated a Grade AA…that’s double A, Bro….and she was fiiiiiiiine.”

Tarzan never dated above Grade A so he keeps quiet. Plus, the Grade B’s were usually easy mark so he’d been there a time or two also. But he kept that quiet, not wanting to be a hypocrite.

“And my cousin used to hang with an ostrich egg. She said he was cool.”

“I don’t trust an ostrich egg. They’re greedy crooks and liars. Everybody knows that.”

Buddy smells it again.

“Dude. That shit’s rank! You sure it’s just lettuce?”

“Well, she put some bacon up in the meat tray a few weeks ago. Maybe that’s it.”

“A few weeks ago? How long you been chillin’ in here? You said a few days, not a few weeks.”

Tarzan avoids the question with another observation, “This bitch is a slob. Did you smell her breath? Or check out her fingernails?”

“Not really. I  was thinking about that boiling water.”

“Well you ought to. She’s a real skank.”

“Now as for me,” Tarzan says. “Before I got stuck in here, I was a real dandy. Polished and powdered myself every day. Looked like a million bucks. I was really something special.”

Buddy knows they are both Grade A and doesn’t consider himself anything too special but doesn’t want to cause trouble. Plus, he’s getting tired. All that lolling around in that boiling pot took a lot out of him and all this talk about what they are is getting boring.

“I’m going to turn in for the night,” Buddy says. “Nice meeting you. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Alight. Goodnight.”

The next morning the refrigerator door opens.

Buddy jolts from his slumber. He tries to make sense of things. He forces awareness, which comes quick but incomplete. He remembers to look down for that lettuce that plagued him all night. But he’s in a bowl, there’s no seeing down or around. But he can look up, which he does for that stenching and vengeful bacon that Tarzan talked about. He searches above but sees no pork.

Then Tarzan rouses to see his companion searching for answers.

“I don’t see the bacon!!!!! Or the lettuce!!!!!!” Buddy exclaims.

“Don’t worry about that,” Tarzan returns. “Look at this disgusting bitch. Look at her teeth. And that ratty hair.”

So he does. The 40 watts of incandescent does her no favors. She is, indeed, a homely woman. She gropes for and extracts things Buddy cannot see. Then she eyes the eggs.

She grabs them both in one hand, but Tarzan slips. He rolls himself to the back of the refrigerator, behind the jar of mayonnaise.

“Not again you Sneaky Pete. You’re not hiding from me this time.”

She moves the jar and grabs him, then places him with Buddy beside the cutting board.

They watch as she chops and cuts and dices lettuce and carrots and peppers and cucumbers and throws them in a bowl.

Tarzan is getting nervous. He needssomewhere to focus his frenzied thoughts.

“Just look at her,” he cries to Buddy. “Look at that gut. And those disgusting fingernails. You seem them now?”

“I seem them,” Buddy says. He imagined they’d be dirty or yellow but they seem pretty normal.

She picks up Buddy and cracks him on the cutting board. He was afraid but it didn’t hurt. She peels off the shell, which tickles him. Then cuts him in thin slices and throws them in the salad.

She grabs Tarzan. He is afraid. She strikes him on the board as she did the other. Something grey oozes from the cracks and onto the cutting board. A sulfury smell fills the room.

That’s what happens when an egg gets cooked too long and gets lost in the fridge. It turns rancid inside the shell.

“Ah, shit!!! Rotten!!!!”, the woman exclaims. She whisks her hand in front of her face to dissipate the odor.

The other ingredients make a collective groan as the putrid smell hits them.

Tarzan screams, “No!!!! It’s this whiffy skank, not me!!!!!”

She turns on the faucet and switches on the disposal, which makes a terrible racket. She places the board under the stream and rinses Tarzan, both sludge and shell, down the drain. The shell jingles for a moment before being pulverized by the blades.

Buddy is a bit surprised at what his comrade was.  His new companions ask if he knew what Tarzan was.

“He was an egg. I thought I knew that. And that much was true. The rest, no. I didn’t know. It was very dark in there overnight.”

The woman turns on the fan which helps clear the odor after a few minutes.

By now Buddy’s found a nice little home for himself on the pillowy lettuce and lying with the croutons who smell and feel pretty good.

He asks them, “You know what they say about the yolk, doncha? It’s not just about the size.”

Then the woman covers them in creamy dressing and it’s as wonderful for Buddy’s parts as all the tumbling in that boiling pot.

“A once in a lifetime experience,” he remembers Tarzan saying. Or something like that.

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