Okay, according to the geeks at Ars Technica, the word "Extreme" will be henceforth stricken from the public vocabulary. This word and all subtle variations will be removed from all advertising and product naming conventions.
The other day, I noticed that some of the foods in the supermarket have been "Extreme" for some time. The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines extreme as "reaching a high or the highest degree," which I can only imagine would not have limitations that normal foods would have. For instance, I saw a variety of chips called "eXtreme Ranch flavor," and I said to my son, "No, we want normal Ranch." I could only surmise what "eXtreme Ranch" might be like...
Julie was wearing spandex this morning, Punk noted. Over her rather uncharacteristically athletic garb she wore a faded "Tintin 50th Anniversary" T-shirt. On her head was a racing bike helmet and welders goggles.
"What's the occasion?" he asked.
Julie smiled and put the goggles down over her eyes. "I am trying the Extreme Ranch flavored corn flakes," she said. "And I am taking precautions. Your helmet and goggles are on the end of the chair."
"Can I have my coffee first?" asked Punk, waving his coffee mug up and down as if to further illustrate the term "drinking coffee" to any deaf roaches that might be in the kitchen.
"I wouldn't advise it." Julie looked at the back of the steel-rimmed box. "It may have a bad reaction with the caffeine."
Punk shrugged. Had he been more awake, he might have been hesitant, but as it was, without coffee he was pretty docile and Julie liked taking advantage of this state of mind.
"Sit down and put on the gear," Julie commanded. "I am going to open the box." She turned to her CD player, and started a tune from Siouxsie and the Banshees called, "Carousel." Since Punk had such a big head, Julie couldn't find goggles that had a headband big enough, but she did manage to rig a welder's mask, and she waited for Punk to get the blast shield in front of his face before she pulled out her beaten Leatherman, and pulled the metal tab to open the box labeled, "K-Rad Korn Flakes, Yo: Extreme Ranch Flavor," with a smaller warning in red letters, "Not to be taken Internally."
The second she ripped the jagged metal tab away from the side of the box, a pressurized sigh escaped along with a strange wisp of glowing smoke. The most intense onion smell punctured the air, along with an aftershock of dill, chives, and a sour buttermilk flavor. Two rats that lived in one of the lower cupboards awoke from a deep slumber, and sniffed the air in concern. A roach that had been hiding behind the toaster scuttled to a crack that led to another room. A garlic smell crept from hiding deep within the box, and skulked around the table like a drunken hippo awoken from a very bad dream. 2
"Woah," said Punk. Julie simply nodded. She hadn't even opened the top all the way back, and already she was having second thoughts. Could she handle such an extreme Ranch flavor? She took a deep breath, and pulled the top back.
What happened next could only be described like a horrible Bjork video. A pale greenish glow thrust itself from the box, sending the metal straps that contained the sides peeling back like broken springs. One of the straps whipped across Julie's hand, leaving a deep gash. Another smacked into the sugar shaker in the middle of the table, sending it spinning across the kitchen, into the hallway leading to the main dining area, and smashing into a supernova of sugar and broken glass against a wall.
Julie didn't have the reaction time required to push herself back fast enough before the aroma of a thousand hell-driven onions grabbed her by her long black hair and smashed her face repeatedly into the laminated kitchen table, screaming, "REMEMBER VIETNAM, LITTLE GIRL??? HANOI THIS!!!" Chives crawled out of the box like a thousand mechanical centipedes while the springs of dill and flakes of parsley erupted out of the box like a plague of locusts.
Punk was far enough away to spin away from the possessed gateway of released Ranch Demons, but not fast enough to leave the chair before the dill sprigs and parsley flakes swarmed around his face, stinging the welder's mask with such ferocity, it was leaving BB-sized dents in the metal.
"Punk, auuughhh!! DOO INTENSE!" screamed Julie, turning her head to one side. Her face was already swollen and covered with blood from her broken nose. "Gedd helb!" she screamed before a swarm of chives overtook her and dragged her to the floor.
"Julie, no!" screamed Punk, but he was pushed back by a sudden tidal wave of buttermilk and mayonnaise that erupted from the box. A huge demon made of garlic cloves and carrying a whip impregnated with shards of salt was riding the wave on a surfboard made from the bones of a thousand damned souls who had died in the wasteland known as Hidden Valley. It flexed its chest, and laughed with such maniacal power, that all the kitchen windows exploded outwards.
Every bird everywhere suddenly took flight.
Several thousand miles away, the Pope clutched his chest, his eyes rolled back, whispered, "Tutti siamo persi..." before falling into a coma, his face frozen in mortal terror.
Punk rolled on his back and stared at the sun through his broken ceiling, which was being blotted out by a sickly green fog. "What hath God wrought?" he wondered. Could such an evil even exist? He quickly thought about what he could use to defeat such a demon. Oil and vinegar? A balsamic? He would certainly need more than a thousand islands to defeat this vile creature. We watched helplessly as tendrils of foul Ranch flavoring oozed into the sky, leaving pale green stains across the clouds. He knew if he didn't do something soon, the world would be lost.
Punk tried to get up, but the demon grabbed Punk with its whip, and tossed the helpless pinniped against the walls back and forth like he was some kind of ragdoll. 'YOUR WORLD IS MINE ALONE TO DO AS I WISH!!!" he screamed, finally making good use of the author's "Caps Lock" key. "AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME!!!! AHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!!"
"Do!" screamed Julie, pulling herself free and swatting at the parsley flakes. "Dis wold is dot for you! Go bag to bere you cabe frob, bile debon! Tage your Ranch hellspawn and begon frob dis wold! I rebuke dee!" And she held aloft her huge green gem.
"AS YOU WISH, LITTLE GIRL...!!! BUT HEED WELL MY WARNING, SOMEONE ELSE WILL RELEASE ME, AND THEN WE SHALL FIGHT AGAIN!!!!" And with that, the demon began to fade, the pale green glow waned, and after a minute, the ravaged kitchen lay bare of any demon influence.
Punk pulled himself off the kitchen counter, too bruised to keep himself upright. Julie kicked around some of the kitchen debris with her foot. She wiped her face, and stared at the blood smeared in her hand.
"Well," she said finally. "Dat certainly bas extreme. I dink my dose is broken ... along wid several ribs."
"Let's not buy that cereal again," said Punk. "In fact, let's not ever buy any product labeled 'Extreme,' again..."
"Oh, you god dat right! Damn straight!" said Julie.
But back in her bedroom ...
...deep in her backpack
... lay a stick of gum.
It lies sleeping.
...Until something awakens the Extreme mint that is to come.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000523.html