When Cheese Turns Deadly

Posted on July 5, 2022


Life in the Boomer Lane has just returned from a whirlwind week-long girls’ road trip to the Berkshires. Along with scenery-gaping, museum-going, music-listening, and the required amount of shopping and eating and laughing, the group decided to spend time in one of their two hotel rooms, watching the latest session of the hearings into the Innocent Tourist Visitation of the Capitol on January 6, 2022.

In preparation for the big event, they stopped at Guido’s (not to be confused with the Guido who was often cited in LBL’s Philadelphia childhood as the man who would be called upon to convince you to do whatever it was that you didn’t want to do), a well-known grocery store in Pittsfield, MA. They bought crackers, brie, gouda, grapes and cherries, to accompany the wine they had purchased earlier.

At the appointed time, the TV was turned on, the wine was poured and the food spread out on the beds. LBL noted that the brie was unusually pungent. After the hearings ended, the cheeses and fruit that were left were placed into the room refrigerator.

By the next morning, the room had taken on a slightly rancid odor. By late afternoon, the odor was a bit pronounced, especially strong around the refrigerator. The refrigerator door was opened and quickly closed, but not before revealing that the brie was quite dark and appeared to be dissolving. LBL and Susan, who shared her room, discussed their options: move to a different room, move to a different hotel, move to a different town. It was decided that they would attempt to return the brie to Guido’s, first thing in the morning. They lowered the temperature in the room and set the fan on high, in hopes of dissipating the odor.

The following morning, LBL quadruple-bagged the offending brie and the group drove to Guido’s. They arrived at 8:4 AM5. LBL walked to the door, where a sign posted the hours of the store. The store opened at 9 AM. LBL banged on the door and, when someone appeared, she used her best powers of persuasion (successfully used almost 60 years ago to secure free lodging in New York City and to attend rock concerts without a ticket), to have them open the door so that she could return the brie. Unlike the brie, they stood firm.

The four friends didn’t want to wait 15 minutes or drive around all day with rancid brie. Being the savvy, mature women they were, they did the only rational thing they could: They hid the brie behind some wooden crates at the edge of the parking lot, near the entrance of the store. They then left to enjoy the glorious 85 degree sunny day in the Berkshires.

At the end of the day, they came back to Guidos, retrieved the brie and went into the store with the hot cheese. The return was successfully made and everyone congratulated themselves on a task well done.

LBL is an early riser and headed to the hotel restaurant each morning to get coffee. The following morning, she was sitting in a booth, enjoying a cup of coffee when her cell phone rang. The caller ID indicated that it was Susan, her hotel roommate. LBL said “Hey,” and waited for a response. There was none, aside from a bit of choking noises and a lot of laughter. It took awhile for Susan to laugh/choke out the words. “The brie is back,” she said, and then dissolved into laughing and choking again.

The words made no sense to LBL. She had retrieved the brie from the refrigerator, wrapped it, held it at arm’s length and brought it to the car. Had Guido’s, in an act of terrorism, found out where their hotel room was, snuck in and replaced the brie? Even LBL, with her vast imagination, thought this would be unlikely.

LBL asked Susan how this could have happened. Susan said, “I opened the refrigerator door and looked. You returned the wrong cheese.” She dissolved into helpless laughter again. LBL declared that she absolutely knew that she had pulled the correct cheese out of the fridge, then remembered that, over the course of her life, she absolutely knew countless other times that she placed something somewhere and then learned that the reality was otherwise (keys/glasses/phone/jewelry/car/children.)

She returned to the room, walked into a cloud of rancid brie, opened the refrigerator door and confirmed that the brie was still there and the Gouda was gone. She briefly considered another trip to Guido’s, then quadruple-wrapped the correct brie, held it at arm’s length, went down to the lobby and handed it to the youngwoman at the desk, who said “Oh my,” and took it. She went back to the room, confirmed that the brie was now actually gone, opened the refrigerator door wide, cranked up the AC and fan again, and she and Susan and their other two friends left for the day.

When LBL and her friends returned at the end of the day, LBL’s and Susan’s beds were made, their towels had been replaced, their trash was emptied, and a very large can of industrial Lysol spray disinfectant had been placed on one of the bedside tables.