I went to a stranger's home to buy cheese
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No matter how hard you work and how big a celebrity you become, you’ll never be as famous as cheese. That’s what they say on TikTok, anyway. And by they, I mean the TikTokers who level-up their cheese porn videos with the profound words of internet personality / comedian / musician / gaming content creator Dan Avidan.
If you’ve never heard of Dan Avidan, don’t feel bad. I’d never heard of him either. Dan Avidan is not as famous as cheese, and never will be. But when I Googled the TikTok-famous phrase “you’ll never be as famous as cheese,” I found that the internet had credited Dan Avidan with this critical insight. Way to go, Dan!
I first heard Dan’s Unified Theory of Cheesy Fame about a year ago. I agreed with the theory immediately. Still, I’m a trust-but-verify kind of guy. I asked Google to tell me who the most famous people in the world were, so I could compare. Google spat out a list of nine famous people.
Robert Downey Jr.
I could see how some of these celebrities were more famous than certain types of cheese. For example, The Rock is way more famous than Camembert. Oprah is more famous than Edam. Kim Kardashian is more famous than halloumi and havarti combined.
But I don’t think Donald Trump—or any American president, for that matter—is more famous than American cheese. No matter how many Iron Man movies Robert Downey Jr. makes, there’s no way he’s bigger than parmesan. And who’s more famous than cheddar? Nobody, that’s who. Because no matter how hard you work and how big a celebrity you become, you’ll never be as famous as cheese.
I bring up the Unified Theory of Cheesy Fame to set expectations for this story. This story is about cheese because cheese is the star. The people who appear in this story are but humble bit players on a stage that belongs to cheese. We are pawns in a delicious game. Servants to the wheel of cheese. Extras, factotums, and dilettantes in the presence of a Cheesus, Lord of Lactose.
“I need you to pick up some cheese for Sunday,” Christina said.
That made sense. We were having a few friends over to swim and to celebrate our friend Tara’s belated birthday. It was a party, and while you can technically have a party without cheese, it’s not advisable.
“Roger that. I’m planning to hit Trader Joe’s later today.”
“Negative, Ghost Rider. I ordered a cheese plate.”
Instantly, my heart split in two directions. On the one hand, nothing beats a legit cheese plate, assembled by a bona fide cheesemonger. But on the other hand, there aren’t any cheese shops in our area, which meant I likely had a long, stinky car ride ahead of me.
“That place in Santa Monica?” I asked. “The one where you got that cheese plate for work?”
Just before the holidays, Christina had sent me over the hill to pick up a fancy cheese plate from a legit cheesemonger. My car stunk of Limburger and Epoisse de Bourgogne. But I didn’t mind the funk. To paraphrase George Clinton, I wanted the funk, I needed the funk, I had to have the funk. Sadly, however, nobody gave up the funk. The cheese plate was destined for Christina’s team, which had some sort of big meeting about lactose tolerance. I drove 22 miles without getting so much as a taste of the company cheese.
“No, I found this lady on Instagram who makes cheese plates,” Christina said. “She’s local.”
“Local? Did a cheese shop open up in our neighborhood?”
“It’s not a cheese shop. She makes cheese plates and sells them out of her house.”
“Out of her house? Is that… legal?”
“I have no idea if it’s legal,” Christina said. “But it’s a helluva deal.”
“Well, I do love deals.”
“And you love cheese.”
“That’s true. This sounds like a win-win.”
“So you’ll pick up the cheese Sunday morning?”
“You ain’t got no problem, honey. I’m on the motherfucker. Go back in there, chill them cheese-lovers out, and wait for the Wolf, who should be coming directly.”
I got up early on Sunday morning, took Mortimer for a walk, showered, and put on my best cheese-shopping clothes. Then I got in the car for the five-minute drive to the underground cheesemonger. To pump me up, I listened to Get That Cheese by Too $hort.
But when I arrived at the address Christina had given me, I was more nervous than pumped. What if this is the wrong address, I worried? What if they’re lactose intolerant? What if the people in this house are prone to violence because they’ve been burned by internet rumors of a phantom cheese operation?
I got out of the car, and walked up to the front door of a single-story yellow ranch home. I didn’t see any signs on the porch about cheese pick-ups, and once again my mind melted down with fear of a cheese deal gone wrong.
Slowly, I extended my arm and pressed the doorbell. I didn’t hear anything, so I pressed it again, but the doorbell didn’t make a sound.
I stood on the porch for a few minutes, running through various scenarios in my head. At one end of the bad news spectrum, a sleepy homeowner answers the door and says, “wrong house, cheese-dick.” At the more dire end of the bad news spectrum, Buffalo ‘mozzarella’ Bill answers the door, knocks me unconscious, drops me in a literal pit of despair, and instructs me to “rub the lotion” on my skin in exchange for slivers of stale string cheese.
As it turned out, nobody answered the door. So, I stepped away from the porch and phoned Christina. But before Christina could pick up, I saw an older Asian woman come around from the side of the house.
“Is this your house?” I asked.
The woman looked confused by the sight of a strange man standing on her lawn. I smiled and tried to look friendly, but I figured I needed to get right to the point.
“I’m here to pick up some cheese,” I said. “Christina sent me.”
“No. Christina, cheese.”
We went back and forth like this a few more times. Part of me wanted to admit defeat and just take the cookies. After all, cookies are great, and according to Fred Durst, you don’t just have to put the cookie in your mouth to have a good time. But another part of me remembered that I had made a promise to my wife to bring home a cheese plate, and that when I made that promise I had invoked The Wolf.
“I think there’s a misunderstanding,” I said. “My wife ordered a cheese plate on Instagram.”
“Instagram, yes. Katie, cookies.”
Without another word, the woman motioned for me to follow her around the side of the house, through a gate, and into the backyard.
At first, I was frozen with fear. I tried to remind myself that I was The Wolf in this situation, that I could handle any scenario, whether it be a plate of cookies, or a headless body in the backseat of a gangster’s car.
But The Wolf persona only took me as far as the gate. I wasn’t going to cross that dangerous threshold for some Pulp Fiction cosplay. A fancy plate of cheese, however, was another story.
I decided then and there that I could die for cheese, and that such a demise would be a noble death. After all, no matter how hard you work and how big a celebrity you become, you’ll never be as famous as cheese.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to die for cheese. I followed the old woman through a cluttered backyard, past a drained pool with graffiti that covered the light blue plaster.
“Wait,” the woman said.
And so I waited as she knocked on the door of a tiny guest house behind the main house. A moment later, the door opened, and a young blonde woman poked her head out.
“Katie, cookies,” the old woman said.
“Actually, I’m here for Christina, who ordered cheese.”
“I’m Katie,” the blonde woman said.
“And you’ve got cheese?” I asked.
“Yes. Just a minute.”
Katie shut the door to the guest house. The old woman walked back to the main house and disappeared. So, I thought, this is where Katie runs her underground cheesemonger operation, and from what I hear, an underground cookie shop too. Go, Katie!
After a few minutes, the door to the guest house opened again, and Katie emerged with a lovely cheese plate.
“Sorry about the confusion,” Katie said. “It’s supposed to be curbside, but I don’t think I told your wife that.”
“No worries. I’ll pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of a cheese-eating way of life.”
I don’t think Katie realized that I was paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, who was the first American president to become more popular than feta. But it didn’t matter. Katie handed over the cheese, then went back inside, presumably to bake some cookies.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE STORY!
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Or, if you’re the type of person who likes a prompt, consider the following questions:
Would you buy a cheese plate from an underground cheesemonger?
Should we go back and get some of Katie’s cookies?
What’s your favorite type of cheese?
Who makes the best cheese? Cows? Sheep? Goats? The mighty cashew?
If you could remake any movie, what would it be and what type of cheese would you cast in the leading role?
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