Yesterday I had a run in with an Angry Onion Lady. She came up while I was scraping old PLU stickers out of a bin liner with my fingernails and announced that "we have some questions about these onions back here!"
As near as I could tell she was alone, so I must assume she was either using the royal "we" or suffering some form of multiple personality disorder. Anyway . . . .
Answering questions about all things producian being part of my job, I followed her politely in spite of her agressive manner. She stopped in front of a display of bulk yellow onions and asked what kind they were. I told her they were yellow onions and she spun around and literally snarled at me. "I can see that!"
So why did you ask . . . ?
"That's what they are," I said, trying to pacify her. "They don't have another name. They're just yellow onions."
"Are they hot?"
"No, ma'am. The yellow onions are the mildest variety."
"I hate mild onions!"
At this point, I realize in retrospect, I should have said, 'Oh, in that case, they're hot. Thanks for asking. Have a nice day.' and gone back to my PLU stickers. But no! I stick around to try to be helpful.
She goes from there to a side rack stocked with bagged yellow onions. "What are these?"
I cringe. "Yellow onions."
"Are they hot?"
Oddly enough, putting onions in mesh bags does not change the flavor. Still, I probably should have said yes.
"No, yellow onions are the mildest onion."
"I hate mild onions!" she announced, dropping the bag into her shopping cart.
So you're buying them why . . . ?
"Yellow onions are what you generally cook with," I began, trying to clear things up.
She spun towards me and howled, "NO! I cook with hot onions. They make everything else taste better too!"
"Well," I said hesitantly, "maybe you'd prefer red onions, like you put on hamburgers. They tend to have more of a bite."
Picture a mad witch queen in a fairy tale. Picture her at the point where she's just about to defeat the lovely princess, ensnare the handsome prince and enslave the kingdom. I'm not talking Disney here. I mean a real Grimm fairy tale, with blood and torture and stuff. Picture the evil witch queen leaning forward, eyes gleaming with avarice, gnarled old hands twisted into grasping claws before her face, mouth gaping in a half-grin of anticipation, strands of spittle clinging to her chin.
Can you picture her?
She looks just a little less crazy than the Angry Onion Lady did at the mention of red onions.
"Yes! You have red onions? Where are they?"
"Well, we don't have them in bags," I apologized. "Just in bulk. They're right there."
I pointed to the red onions, in the bin next to the bagged yellow onions, which were identifiable by the fact that they were, well, red.
She followed my gaze and her face fell. She glared at me in fury and disbelief. "Pah! I don't want those red onions! I tried those things. They don't have any flavor." She looked me up and down in contempt. "Those aren't red onions. They're just red onions. When I say I want red onions I don't mean I want red onions, I mean I want red onions!"
I backed away slowly, careful not to make eye contact, and returned to my empty bin. I'd left a cart full of oranges there and I figured I could hide behind it and even use them as projectiles if it became necessary to defend myself. The last I saw of the Angry Onion Lady, she was stomping off between the apples and the citrus fruit muttering to herself. "Can't get good-tasting vegetables anymore! It's all this damned organic crap!"
Nothing she'd been anywhere near was organic, but I sure as heck wasn't going to say anything.
Know what she was like? Do you remember The Waltons? Remember how Grandma Walton was always sharp-tongued and snippy? Kind of crotchety-yet-lovable? Well, this woman was sort of like that. She was kind of crotchety-yet-not-lovable. More like crotchety-yet-a-total-bitch. She was even scarier than Cranky Mr. Cauliflower or The Evil Culligan man!
But, here's the thing. Reading this now, you're probably thinking I've exaggerated. I haven't. If anything, I've played down her attitude and speech. She really was that angry. About onions.