For the last 15 or so years, I’ve dealt with moderate to severe acid reflux. I’ve had it mostly under control—I stay away from certain foods, I exercise regularly and I try to shoehorn multiple stress relievers into my day—but for the past three months, it’s been particularly annoying. So annoying that I had an endoscopy yesterday afternoon just to ensure that something more serious hadn’t happened.
Fortunately, they didn’t find anything too concerning; when I asked the doctor what I should do to alleviate the discomfort, his answer was basically, “Have you tried, um, getting some sleep?” I hadn’t, actually. I sleep between four and six hours a day, so maybe I should increase that number to something less vampirish.
Anyway, while the endoscopy is quick and painless—and you’re under anesthesia—it does require an endoscope to be sent down your throat, which leaves it a little sore. Also, the prep for an endoscopy asks you not to eat or drink anything from midnight until your procedure. Mine wasn’t until 2:15 p.m., so I was hungry and thirsty as shit when I was done, and I needed something hearty and warm and easy to digest in my belly immediately. My feelings about Cream of Wheat are well-documented, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this was my choice. Unfortunately, I had none at home, so I had to trek to Giant Eagle and buy some.
Interestingly enough, although I know—because I’ve eaten it in my home after grabbing a box from a cabinet in my kitchen—that I’ve bought Cream of Wheat before, I don’t actually remember ever doing it. Yesterday felt like the first time I ever bought Cream of Wheat on my own, as if I’ve had an intern specifically employed just to keep me stocked with Cream of Wheat, and yesterday just happened to be his day off. (And I hope he used that day off to go job hunting because that’s a really shitty job.)
Because of this likely anesthesia-side-effect-induced newness, buying Cream of Wheat yesterday was quite overwhelming. There were, like, FOUR separate types of Cream of Wheat to choose from. WHO KNEW THERE WERE, LIKE, FOUR SEPARATE TYPES OF CREAM OF WHEAT?
Paralyzed by all of these damn options, I threw caution and common sense to the wind and chose the brown sugar Cream of Wheat. Because I like Cream of Wheat. And I think I maybe like brown sugar. Brown sugar sounds like something that I should like when it’s added to things I already like.
Like, if you’re at a brunch buffet and you have a choice between bacon and BROWN SUGAR BACON, you’re definitely going to be intrigued as fuck by the prospect of brown sugar and bacon in the same damn mouth at the same damn time. It could even work with things that are not edible foods. If Xfinity gave me the option to order the BROWN SUGAR NBA LEAGUE PASS instead of the regular ol’ NBA League Pass, I’d order the shit out of the BROWN SUGAR NBA LEAGUE PASS even though BROWN SUGAR NBA LEAGUE PASS sounds vaguely pornographic.
Purchase in hand, I went back home and immediately began the Cream of Wheat-making process. I put on my finest and cleanest robe, combed out my beard and did a little shoulder shimmy when walking into the kitchen. The first red flag came when I opened the box and saw that instead of tens of thousands of tiny little Cream of Wheats anxiously waiting to be boiled, there were ... packets. Six packets.
CREAM OF WHEAT DOESN’T COME IN PACKETS! That’s for bitch-ass oatmeal, not Based God Cream of Wheat. Still, I ignored this affront to Jesus and followed the directions on the bitch-ass packets (another red flag)—which asked me to empty a full packet in a bowl, boil a half-cup of water, and then place the water in the bowl. After mixing for a minute, I’d have Cream of Wheat.
I did that for a minute, but I didn’t have Cream of Wheat. I had something that looked like chicken stock and smelled like cocoa butter. I fucking made Cream of Wheat bath and body wash. I’m looking for a hearty post-endoscopy meal, and these Cream of Wheat niggas gave me LA Fitness shampoo. So I improvised by opening another packet and adding that to the bowl, hoping that would give it the appropriate consistency. It worked.
Finally, I was able to sit down and enjoy my hearty, post-endoscopy batch of purina. I clutched a tablespoon with my right hand, steadied the bowl with my left and took a generous scoop. And it was so terrible that I stood up, brought the bowl up to my face as if a closer inspection might give me an answer, pondered what needed pondering, sat back down and took another scoop just to verify that it was as bad as I thought it was. And it wasn’t.
IT WAS WORSE BECAUSE THE AFTERTASTE FROM THE FIRST SCOOP KICKED IN, WHICH FELT LIKE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE FARTS, AND YOU SMELL IT AND MOVE AWAY, AND THEN YOU FORGET ABOUT THE FART AND WALK RIGHT BACK INTO THE FART CLOUD. That’s what the experience of eating brown sugar Cream of Wheat is like. It’s like smelling the same fart twice.
I’ve never tasted anything that tasted more overtly artificial. I mean, I know I’ve eaten artificial-ass foods. Pop Tarts taste like they’re specifically engineered to produce diabetes, and I’ve probably never actually eaten a real, actual chicken before. But this shit tasted like a lie. Like food for someone who’s never actually eaten food before. Remember when Carlos Boozer went peak Bigen and looked like a dry-erase marker with sentience? Well, brown sugar Cream of Wheat tastes how that looked.
I eventually threw the bowl in the trash. I just couldn’t subject myself to cereal Bigen any longer. Still hungry and sore and annoyed, I took the doctor’s advice and took a nap. And I feel better now, so yesterday was a net positive!