This Is Crackers

Between The Bridges

Well, we all should have seen this coming. After 116 years, Mondelez International, Nabisco's parent company, has ceded to the onslaught of ethical complaints lodged by PETA against the packaging on Barnum's Animals Crackers depicting exotic animals in circus cages on the box of crackers which is, of course, in this day and age quite politically incorrect.

Now, instead of showing the animals in cages (implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus), the newly-designed boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, and a gorilla wandering side-by-side, enjoying their newfound freedom as they roam free in a Serengeti-type grassland. I'm not quite sure what the hell the zebra and giraffe were thinking when they decided to join this happy group of newly freed animals, but I cannot help but think that I discern a hint of a smirk on the lion's face.

As for me, as soon as I became aware of this new paradigm for the depiction of wild animals, I immediately searched through my cupboard and found six of the now "offensive" Barnum's Animals Crackers boxes and emptied the contents of all of them into the bay, whereupon all of the individual lions, tigers and bears were immediately set upon and ravaged by a colony of seagulls with multiple schools of killifish feasting on the crumbs! I then discarded the now empty cardboard boxes with their politically incorrect images and put them out with the trash.

Unfortunately, the next morning as I was feeling very smug with myself for joining with PETA in this ridiculous crusade, it suddenly dawned on me that the six boxes of the original animal crackers I had tossed could well have become a collector's item in the not-so-distant future and possibly worth a couple of bucks. I raced out of the house to search the garbage can on the sidewalk only to realize that, unlike most scheduled collection days, Build it Back did not have the street blocked and the sanitation truck had already come and gone, and with them went my fortune in collectable "offensive" Barnum's Animals Crackers boxes. 

I immediately set about to visit every supermarket, grocery store, deli, bodega, etc., between Rockaway and Ozone Park and, although the larger stores had already swapped out the old boxes for the new, I was able to appropriate twelve of the small original boxes replete with the "offensive" caged animals. I then stopped at a local hardware store and after purchasing the requisite items, I sat in the parking lot and tightly wrapped all twelve boxes with a black plastic garbage bag and then sealed all of it with duct tape and placed it on the passenger seat next to me. As I pulled out of the parking lot, all I could do was smile as I looked at this package next to me thinking - "Money in the Bank!"

On the drive home, I was pulled over by one of New York's Finest, who had noticed that I had passed him without the benefit of a seat belt. Ever the good citizen, I pulled over and when the officer approached me, he greeted me courteously and asked if I was aware of why I had been stopped. I sheepishly admitted that as soon as he had hit his lights to alert me to pull over, I realized that I was not wearing a seat belt. 

"License, registration and insurance card please," he stated, and I went to my wallet and gave him what I thought was my driver's license but, in fact, I had handed over my New York State Medical Marijuana card instead. (Yes, that's another story.) After examining the card, the officer handed it back to me with a quizzical look on his face and stated: "This is not your license." 

Realizing my error, I rummaged through my wallet and finally came upon my license, but as I was handing it to him I saw he was staring intently at the package on my passenger seat. After taking my license, he then again returned to staring at the package on the passenger seat and asked if I had any illegal substances in the car.

It was only then that I also looked at the package of animal crackers and realized, "Oh my God, it looks just like a kilo wrapped weed! The officer directed me to remain in my vehicle while he ran my information and shortly thereafter he was joined by some plainclothes officers in an unmarked car. To make a long story short, I exited my car and gave the officers permission to search the vehicle and started to explain what was actually in the package on the seat but was advised to remain quiet until they finished. The search of the car proved negative but I could tell that the package on the seat was still their main focus. I explained what has transpired earlier that day to all three officers but I could see the look of "Now I really have heard everything" settle over all their faces. 

At that point, I asked they unwrap the package so they could satisfy their curiosity. Some five minutes later all twelve boxes of "collectible" offensive animal cracker boxes lay ripped opened on the hood of my car. The two plainclothes officers were laughing themselves silly as they drove away while I deposited my now worthless collection of animal crackers in a nearby trash basket. 

I asked the original officer who had stopped me if I could return to my car but he hesitated and, waving my license at me asked, "You know this is only a learner's permit don't you?" Suffice it to say, that I was ultimately sent on my way with an admonition to upgrade my learner's permit (and yes, that too is another story...) and not to immediately offer my medical marijuana card to the police when stopped while driving. He did have a sense of humor as was evidenced with his parting remark to me that perhaps I should seek out a 12-step program to deal with my animal cracker fetish.

Broad Channel, why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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