“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Willie Nelson, American musician
Not long before my bodily self went utterly lactose intolerant, I stood in a market in Pittsburgh’s Strip District and eyed an aged cheese hanging from the ceiling by lovely twists of rope.
We were already loaded up with walnuts and dried spices and leftover Thai food from lunch. It was more than enough to carry given the fact we weren’t in our car. We were travelling by light rail, pleased with ourselves as parents for teaching our small-city-bred children how to use mass transit with style.
(We had very little style, in truth. Unable to buy passes in advance and not familiar with the city, we got so confused as to how to actually pay for the light rail the conductor let us ride gratis — both ways.)
Anyway, I stood and looked at that cheese with longing. I even tasted a small shaving from the plate of samples that was resting below it. It was wonderful. A pungent white cheddar that was everything, absolutely everything cheese is supposed to be.
But, deciding to stay light on my feet and heavy of wallet, I walked away. Without buying so much as a crumb. “I’ll get some another time,” I thought. Another time never came. Within days, I developed a lactose intolerance so sudden and severe I was convinced I had appendicitis.
At least I learned a lesson. Whenever I am faced with a choice of whether to make the leap, have the adventure or simply take the time — excluding the soul-destroying stuff, of course — I try to remember that day. I don’t always leap, adventure or take — but I do contemplate the temporal nature of, well, cheese.
I have to. Sometimes now is all there is.