Hugh Dean Miller is one of those people who believe that there is a reason for everything, that his life is a juggernaut of nuts, bolts, and steel plates that steams without perturbation across the stormy waters of existence with a ponderous, placid faith in an eventual haven. No wave nor berg, neither Scylla nor Charybdis will interrupt his voyage.
I often find Hugh Dean’s crow’s nest enviable, but then again, he is regularly beset by petty nuisances of meagre impediment that disturb him by their absence on his charts. Such was the case when Hugh Dean and I were shopping, and he stumbled upon oyster crackers.
“Jesse!” he shouted. “Get over here!”
Two aisles over, I abandoned a fruitless search for large curd cottage cheese and came upon Hugh Dean with sacks of Premium oyster crackers in both hands, wiggling them this way and that, watching the little hexagonals tumble in the cellophane.
“Have you ever seen these?” he asked with a look of naked and furious accusation.
“Yes, Hugh Dean, they’re oyster crackers. Some people put them in soups.”
Typically, Hugh Dean wasn’t listening to me. “You can’t put an oyster on these,” he said. “Do they have oysters in them? They don’t even look like an oyster.” Puzzlement was written all over his face.
“Hugh Dean, that’s just what they’re called,” I tried to explain. “That doesn’t mean you eat them with oysters or they’re made of oysters. They’re really popular in clam chowder.”
Somehow that made a connection. “Well then why in the hell don’t they call them clam crackers? Or chowder crackers? Who decided to call them oyster crackers anyway? Why would anyone make something like this when you can just crumble up a saltine in your soup like normal people do in the first place?”
Hugh Dean sighed, tossed the sacks back on the rack, and struck out towards the beer cooler. “Jesse, let me tell you something,” he said over his shoulder. “There are some things in the world you ought not waste time worrying over. They’ll just keep you from focusing on the Big Things.”
“Hugh Dean,” I said. “That’s probably the smartest thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life.”