Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mustard on the Side

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience."
- James Beard "Beard on Food"

"The American does not drink at meals as a sensible man should. Indeed, he has no meals. He stuffs for ten minutes thrice a day."
- Rudyard Kipling "American Notes"

"Hunger is a slut hound on a fresh track."
- Josh Billings


Sounds familiar to all who possess an appetite erupts from the brightly lit GROCERY STORE.

One by one, the members of the FOOD KINGDOM file by, greeted only by INTERMITTENT BEEPS.

98% FAT FREE MEAT
(deep, manly voice)

Um, well, excuse me...

Another unsympathetic BEEP and...

AAAHHH!!

FADE IN ON

MONTEREY JACK and 98% FAT FREE MEAT are neatly dressed in the formal plastic wrap and anoited with a bar code label. They fall helplessly, hopelessly to the bottom of a grocery bag.

98% FAT FREE MEAT

This can't be good.

MONTEREY JACK
(whiny voice)

No, no, no! I'm gonna bruise! Maybe they'll return us.

The top edge of the GROCERY BAG seems ten stories tall. And MEATS and CHEESES are not known for their climbing ability. The couch potatoes of the FOOD KINGDOM.

A PIMPLY YOUNG TEENAGER peers down into the GROCERY BAG, smacking his SPEARMINT GUM and allowing it to free fall between the FOODS.

SPEARMINT GUM
(effeminate)

Yeeowwoohno! I'd heard rumors you know.

MONTEREY JACK
(peering down at the gum)

Are you ok??

SPEARMINT GUM

Its all dark and musty in there. Darkness all around
and this large red creature ticklin' me. It was fun at first.

MONTEREY JACK starts to hop around, trying to read the label on his backside.

MONTEREY JACK

Check my expiration date! Check my expiration date!


MONTEREY JACK sticks his rear directly into the face of 98% FAT FREE MEAT.

98% FAT FREE MEAT

Its time.

INT. GROCERY STORE - NIGHT

The BEEPING and SCREAMING continues as FOOD ITEMS are dropped and shoved into nearby grocery bags.

CONSUMERS of all shapes, sizes and appetites swarm the interior of the GROCERY STORE, disrupting the happy-go-lucky lives of all the FOODS.

As FOODS continue to be scanned, two CONSUMERS, a YOUNG WOMAN and her SON wait patiently for the grand total.

YOUNG BOY
(innocent & bewildered)

Mommy? Mommy...they're screaming.

His MOTHER responds without a glance, more consumed by the impending pain on her pocketbook.

YOUNG WOMAN

Who's screaming dear?
(laughing to herself)
They're so cute at that age.

The YOUNG WOMAN pauses to rub her SON'S head, faintly smiling, but it soon fades as the total darkens her mood.

How much!?

An ELDERLY WOMAN, barely tall enough to peer over the YOUNG BOY agrees.

ELDERLY WOMAN

They
are screaming. I can hear them!

The ELDERLY WOMAN nods, very self-assured of herself, rubbing her chin. The YOUNG BOY peers back at the food, imitating her gestures.

INT. GROCERY STORE FRUIT AISLE - NIGHT

An ELDERLY MAN, dressed in decade old sweats and wearing very thick glasses, grabs an ORANGE and squeezes it.

ORANGE

Dude, come on! How'd you like it if I grabbed your...

The ELDERLY MAN continues his fondling of the frightful fruit.

I suppose you want me to cough now, hmm?

The ELDERLY MAN is pressing the ORANGE to his nose, but some nearby KIDS horsing around behind him gallop their cart into his back. The ORANGE flies from his hand and recklessly rolls itself between numerous carts and CONSUMER feet.

ORANGE

Not again! Whoa! Lookout! Comin' through! Wheeee!

The ELDERLY MAN begins to move as fast as he can toward the ORANGE but is distracted.

ELDERLY MAN

Oooh...two for one cantelope.

INT. CANDY SNACK AISLE - NIGHT

A MIDDLE-AGED MAN with unkempt hair and a rather foul aroma jerks his head back and forth, finally slamming his hand deep into the CASHEWS, shoving them into his slightly toothless mouth.

CASHEWS

Ow! Hey! Quit it...quit it!

INT. ALCOHOL AISLE - NIGHT

A BOTTLE OF RUM begins to shake on the top shelf as a rather OBESE MAN waddles down the aisle.

As HE passes, the BOTTLE OF RUM's shaking minimizes. But another PROFESSIONAL YOUNG CONSUMER stops and slowly turns his head to face the BOTTLE OF RUM.

The BOTTLE OF RUM freezes, but as the PROFESSIONAL YOUNG CONSUMER glances at the JUICES, the BOTTLE OF RUM starts to uncontrolably shake again.

The PROFESSIONAL YOUNG CONSUMER decices he's had enough so he quickly exits the aisle shaking himself, occasionaly glancing back in the BOTTLE OF RUM'S direction.

BOTTLE OF RUM

Oh God, I can't (hic) take (hic) the pressure!

The BOTTLE OF RUM hops up and dives head first into the heartless floor. A number of the JUICES gasp. Others scream. A SQUIRRELY WOMAN stops her shopping and hurries her cart from the aisle.

PIMPLY YOUNG TEENAGER
(bored)

Clean up on aisle six...

A CONSUMER COUPLE, obviously in love, glide hand in hand down the cereal aisle, but the couple are too entranced by one another to notice what's taking place nearby.

RAISIN BRAN
(elderly voice)

Corn Flakes! Corn Flakes you fool!

The CONSUMER COUPLE glance around. The FEMALE CONSUMER speaks up.

FEMALE CONSUMER

How 'bout Corn Flakes?

BRAN FLAKES
(elderly female voice)

Delicious toasted oats! They're oats and, well, they're toasted damnit!

MALE CONSUMER

What about these imitation Cheerios?

TOASTED OATS

Bran! Think bran! It's brantastic!

FEMALE CONSUMER

Extra fiber in the diet helps fight cancer. Why don't we try the Bran Flakes?

TOASTED OASTS

Psst! What the hell is bran anyway?

RAISIN BRAN

Who cares? They let us be.

INT. COFFEE AISLE - NIGHT

On one side of the aisle are all the REGULAR COFFEE BRANDS, all shaking and nodding, occasionally hopping up and down as though they have to use the bathroom.

FOLGERS INSTANT
(agitated)

Oh god! I can't sleep! I CAN'T SLEEP!

Across the aisle, smiling and mocking the INSTANT COFFEE'S dilemma are the DECAF BROTHERS, the mindless frat brothers of the coffee universe.

DECAF BROTHERS
(whistling)

Hey, regular! Over here! Check this out! Look what we can do!

The DECAF BROTHERS lie on their sides as though retiring for the evening.

Zzzzzzzzz.

A nearby STARBUCKS COFFEE turns away in disgust.

STARBUCKS COFFEE
(upper crust accent)

Juveniles. I never.

INT. PRODUCE AISLE - NIGHT

A stalk of LARGE CELERY can be seen brushing the stalk of SMALL CELERY, who is using a DIRTY CARROT to swing at incoming STRAWBERRIES. As each one is swung upon and launched, they scream, "Banzai!" A GREEN BANANA pulls himself away from his bunch and prances to the top of the heap.

GREEN BANANA
(singing)

We're the fruits and veggies.
And we're getting kinda edgy,
We fight the consumer,
And its not just a rumor,
Cuz we're about to lose our life.

Once GREEN BANANA finishes his final lyric, the glaring lights above begin to systematically flicker out, one by one. Only intermittent lights are left on, creating a dusk like atmosphere throughout the store.

It's closing time.

INT. CONDIMENT AISLE - NIGHT

A small plastic bottle of MUSTARD watches intently as the final bright lights bow out for the evening. A huge smile smears across his face as he slowly peers down at the floor seven shelves below.

MUSTARD

Climb.

A nearby group of CAMPBELL SOUP CANS thrust themselves in MUSTARD's direction.

CAMPBELL SOUP CANS

Hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut...

They continue to chant until they create a perfectly straight set of stairs. MUSTARD hops down, giggling to himself. But before he can reach the final step, MOTHER MUSTARD yells down to her son.

MOTHER MUSTARD

Where do you think you're going mister?

MUSTARD's gleefullness begins to fade away, along with his yellowish glow, which has now darkened somewhat, along with his mood.

MUSTARD
(whining)
But Maaaawwwwmmmm, I told you I was going to hang out with my friends.

Hiding at the base of the soup stairs is MUSTARD'S best friend, LARGE AA EGG. He tries to roll himself in a straight line but ends up banging into a number of the CAMPBELL SOUP CANS.

LARGE AA EGG

Yeah Miss M., it's going to be eggcellent.

Both MUSTARD's glance at one another with blank looks on their faces.

Besides, you promised Musty could hang out tonight. You don't want to
have egg on your face, do you?

MOTHER MUSTARD
(sternly)

Double A...

LARGE AA EGG begins to roll backward, laughing hysterically to himself.

LARGE AA EGG

Woohoohahahahaha! I'm cracking up! The yoke's on me! Hahahahahaha!

From one end of the CONDIMENT AISLE comes GREEN BANANA muttering something to SPAM.

GREEN BANANA

How many times do I have to tell you?? You aren't a real meat, ok??

SPAM

Check my label. I said, check my label.

SPAM bends over allows GREEN BANANA to read his ingredients, but he refuses.

GREEN BANANA

Would you get your can out of my face please?

MUSTARD darts to his friends, ignoring MOTHER MUSTARD.

MOTHER MUSTARD

I want you home before the CONSUMERS start in, ok? I have to talk to you
about something important.

MUSTARD, GREEN BANANA, LARGE AA EGG and SPAM all begin to travel down the aisle together. SPAM nudges GREEN BANANA, trying to get his attention.

SPAM
(whispering)

Has Miss M. told Musty about you know what?

GREEN BANANA

You mean, about shelf life?

They both glance at one another with troubled concern. MUSTARD and LARGE AA EGG are a few steps ahead, laughing and pushing one another.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Mustard on the Side. I know what you're saying, how could I lettuce ketchup with mustard while pickling your imagination? Mayo I remind you, tomato is another day.