I was getting tea at the Quick-Chek convenience store and noticed a sign showing Quaker Oats’s “Recommended” method for preparing instant oatmeal. Their formula, and I’m sorry I didn’t have my camera so I could get this down exactly and be escorted out by the clerks, had three steps: first, put a packet of instant oatmeal powder in the bowl; second, add up to a half cup of hot water into the bowl; and finally, stir. Those with long memories will remember this is one step more than was required to set up the original late-90s Snoopy-helmet-style iMacs.
I see what they’re doing by listing this as just their “recommendation”, though. They imply they are open to other concepts in instant oatmeal preparation. Perhaps they even mean it, but I have doubts. Can I be sure that, if I were to soak my oatmeal with three-fifths of a cup of hot water some alert Quaker Oats representative among the Quick-Chek staff wouldn’t race over and slap the bowl out of my hands, crying, “You mad fool!” and shake her head, mournfully? Of course not. Or if I refused to stir it, trusting instead that the inevitable entropic heat-death of the universe would, someday, eventually make itself felt in a bowl of uniformly mushy, cold oatmeal? Would they take some action against me, especially if it isn’t a 24-hour convenience store? I feel certain they’d never let me get away with skipping out on the bowl. Maybe they’d let me go with not putting the oatmeal powder in, but I bet they’d gossip about me.
So I’m tempted. Maybe someday when I’m just about to leave town for months and they won’t be able to follow me.