Needed: One Velvet Elvis

I work for the best company ever.

This morning, I filled out a request for PTO time. Tara and I are headin’ up to Seattle next Friday to celebrate her nephew’s first birthday, and we wanted to leave early for a change. We’ll be taking off around 2:00, so I submitted the paperwork to my boss, who promptly tore it in half before my eyes. That led to a brief WTF?! moment in which I wondered what I had done to spark such animosity. You could have just said no, I was about to say, but then Boss Man explained, “This one is on us. I know you put in some extra hours last week. You’ve earned this.”

Aww. How awesome is that? In all those years working for Big Corporations, never once did a boss do something nice and off-the-record like that. And then, a few hours later, we celebrated a warm and sunny spring afternoon with a barbecue in the parking lot. There is nothing like grilled meat and cold booze in the middle of a workday! And not just beer. Margaritas, people. That’s high class. Four months in, and it still boggles my mind how laid back and fun this place is. And yet, when there is work to be done, we all buckle down and give it our all. What a great concept. This is the type of company that inspires fierce loyalty. And a few hangovers.

This would be PERFECT for my cubicle!
This would be PERFECT for my cubicle!

By the way, I’m no longer the newbie. I’m not even the runner-up newbie. Two new people have been hired in the past few weeks, and they are interviewing for another. At this rate, I’m beginning to feel like a veteran. To accommodate one of the new hires, I had to give up my cubicle in the web and media office, but they moved me to a little cave-like area with four work stations. I happen to be the only one there, so it’s like I’ve got my own private office. I have taken to keeping the lights off and relying on the warm, soft glow of lava lamps, which adorn the top shelf of my desk. My coworkers joke that I need a beaded curtain and a velvet Elvis painting. Ahh, do they know me, or what? I will transform my work area into a groovy 70s pad before long, mark my words. I’m sure the way we’re growing I’ll have another person sitting near me before long. Let’s just hope he or she digs velvet, baby.

I can’t wait to hit the vintage stores!

Better Late Than Never or What’s in the Pantry? 

Last month (wow, time flies!), I talked about 5 foods I used to like but now loathe. And I promised to come up with a list of 5 foods I shouldn’t like, but inexplicably do. I haven’t forgotten, I’ve merely been sidetracked. So, without further ado, here you have it…my guilty food pleasures.

5 Foods I Shamefully Admit to Liking

  1. Spam. I’ve written of my love for Spam before. I’m the guy who made a 19-mile detour on my cross-country road trip to visit a museum dedicated to the lunch meat (and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip). Maybe my fondness for canned SPiced hAM can be traced back to my years in Hawaii, where it’s considered a delicacy. Or maybe I just like the convenience and post-Apocalyptic shelf life. Either way, Spam is salty and meaty and delicious, particularly with fried eggs. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
  2. Underwood Chicken Spread. I had a girlfriend once who took one look at the stuff and wrinkled her nose. And my ex-wife thought it was disgusting, too. But I have been eating this since childhood, and love it. Maybe there’s something odd about a creamy, ready-to-spread chicken product, but you try to resist the tiny can with the devil logo. I eat it straight up, spread between two slices of bread, and it always makes for a tasty, enjoyable lunch. And it’s got chunks of white meat chicken in there, so it’s…umm…somewhat healthy and good for you. No?
  3. Krab salad. I am a writer and a self-professed Grammar nazi, so while the spelling bugs the hell out of me, the taste does not. Granted, imitation crab meat will never compare to the real deal, but it’s a lot cheaper – and still pretty tasty! And it’s not like fake crab isn’t real food: it’s usually made with Alaskan pollock, a type of mellow white fish, that is blended with egg white and crab flavoring, and dyed red on the outside so it resembles said shellfish. It’s often used in California rolls, but I prefer it mixed with mayo, celery, and onion, and served atop a cracker. Yum!
  4. Oriental mix. I’m not referring to actresses like Jennifer Tilly, but rather, those snack mixes that contain a variety of salty, sweet, and spicy ingredients like sesame sticks, dried peas, peanuts, rice crackers, and seaweed. They are often sold in bulk, and always make for a crunchy, delicious snack. So what if an opened bag smells like the ocean?
  5. Prunes (and prune juice). I pity the poor prune. It gets a bad rap. Several years ago, manufacturers started calling prunes dried plums instead, in an effort to bypass the stigma associated with eating prunes. Who cares if these fiber-rich fruits have a reputation for, ahem, aiding in the “excavation” process? They are sweet, chewy, and delicious. Whenever stewed prunes appeared on the school lunch menu, my classmates would kindly offer me theirs. I never turned ’em down, because I loved the flavor and texture! I was much happier seeing a pile of stewed prunes on my plate than, say, cake. And prune juice is a pretty tasty drink, as well!

And, since I had a bonus item on my last list, I’ll add one here, as well. I am a sucker for canned spinach. Maybe I was influenced by Popeye cartoons while growing up, but regardless of the reason, I have always had a fondness for spinach. In a can, that is. Heated up and sprinkled with salt, it’s a healthy and delicious side dish for any meal. “Real” spinach, by the way? It’s okay, but I don’t go gaga over it the way I do the canned stuff. To me, it just doesn’t have the same flavor profile. Or maybe it’s a textural thing. I dunno.

So, what about you? What “weird” food item floats your culinary boat?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “Needed: One Velvet Elvis

  1. Now I want spam and canned spinach(popeye was one of my heros when I was a kid)…some of the chicken spread wouldn’t be too bad either. You’re not helping my pregnancy cravings any LOL The one thing I’ve always wanted to try after seeing it on Bizzare Foods Hawaii episode is the spam and pineapple upside down cake. I personally think it looks like it could be pretty good. Every once in a while I make spam casserole. Basically tuna noodle casserole just made with spam instead. It’s pretty tasty too.


  2. Boy Mark, you had me scared reading that first paragraph, until I got to…

    ““This one is on us. I know you put in some extra hours last week. You’ve earned this.”

    How AWESOME is that is right! Sounds like such a great company you work for because so many companies do not appreciate good employees or take the time to even say THANK YOU.

    Btw, I love Oriental Mix too AND canned spinach. I like fresh spinach as well, but there are times when I like eating canned because you just open the can, heat it up, and eat as a side dish OR eat it alone. Del Monte is my favorite brand.

    My weird food item would be canned chicken. I love it over salads!

    Have a faaaaaaabulous weekend, buddy!


  3. OK I like almost everything you do! In Canada we don’t have SPAM so much as KLIK (same thing) & I still love it from childhood, just not so often anymore. I like it fried with eggs, diced into an omelette or straight out of the can with a little mustard in a sandwich. I also still like Underwood deviled meat, although my favorite was the corned beef rather than chicken, but they all taste almost the same. I also love the fake crab (pollock) in a sandwich with mayo, celery & onions. Never heard of this Oriental mix, but I do love Olympic mix which is trail mix (peanuts, raisins, cashews, sunflower seeds) with candy coated chocolate (almost like M&M’s) mixed in. Can’t say I love canned spinach, but I love, love, love raw spinach in a salad!
    One of my new favorites is hummus, especially with lots of garlic! I tried it for the first time this year & I’m hooked!


  4. Excited to see you and Tara next week! It’s going to be a great time and even funner now that I don’t have to work the whole weekend!!

    I like Spaghetti-O’s, Deviled ham, Krab salad or just the Krab by itself, Trail mix (especially the one from Costco) and I love canned Beets with melted butter and salt and pepper and one more thing….I LOVE parsnips!!


  5. I still think you should call your workspace “Portal to the 70’s” It has a nice ring to it and it’s not like it’s a copyrighted phrase.


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