Sweat Stained Review: Confessions of a Blue Collar Misfit

I Just Want Some Strawberries Man

By Dan Denton

Most days I live a simple, modest diet. I pretty much eat the same things, when I’m eating well. Some eggs, oatmeal, cheese, meat, hummus, fruits and veggies. Simple and inexpensive. I try to eat healthy and that desire is weighted heavily by the cost of food. Like most working people in the world, the price of good food is often inhibitive. 

A few weeks back I got a hankering for some strawberries. I fucking love strawberries. I don’t eat them all the time, and they’re not my favorite fruit, but sometimes a man gets a craving for some good strawberries, and in those times no other fruit will do. I needed some strawberries bad. After three days I was having visions of washing big red strawberries the size of small apples, and eating them all but their leafy tops in big, one-bite chomps, while they were still yet wet from their washing. 

So I went down to this national grocery store chain and the only strawberries I could find there were $7.49, and I’ve been cranky about it ever since. 

No, I didn’t have any strawberries that day, and I’ve yet to eat any all these weeks later. And sure, I’ve seen strawberries on sale, for more reasonable prices, in other grocery stores since then, but I was so angry at the sticker shock I experienced that I’ve lost my appetite for strawberries altogether, and just as well to be honest. As a financially challenged writer, $7.49 is more profit than I make on the sale of a book I’ve authored, and some weeks I sell no books at all. And I tell you, I’ve all but about given up living in this world where I play by the rules. Where I do the things I have to do, through my work and labor, to secure a few dollars, and yet, I still can not afford to eat strawberries when the whim blows in. 

$7.49 for strawberries, man. $2.50 for a small, ordinary Lunchable. Hamburger prices wrestle to soar faster than gasoline prices. Milk ain’t far behind them. My favorite Lil Debbie snack cakes cost four times as much today as they did three years ago, and you start wondering what the life expectancy is for someone that lives on Dollar Store hot dogs and gas station mustard. 

For one moment in time, I lived in a grocery store for 30 minutes, and it cost almost as much for a package of fresh red strawberries as a minimum wage American worker makes in an hour, and do any of us want to consider what they might do with the other 39 hours of wages? Lord have mercy. A minimum wage earning American. How do they afford toilet paper in a world where you can now buy four rolls in one, but it’s the same size as one roll was 10 years ago? 

Our candy bars are half the size they used to be and cost four times more than the bigger ones of our youth, and how the hell are we supposed to not spark revolutions in a world of active genocide, war, homophobia, world wide famine, world wide misogyny, climate change and greed? How? When we can’t even afford the tiny candy bar chocolates we need to make it through another human week in an inhuman system. How? When a ‘successful’ writer can’t even afford some goddamned strawberries when he gets a hankering? 

It drives me batshit crazy how everyone has always thought I was crazy for hollering about the evils of capitalism. I am crazy. There’s a long history of medical files to prove it, and a lifetime of struggle to double down. But half the reason I’m crazy is because I read too much, and I know that the best psychologists in the world are working for corporations, studying which advertising jingle is most likely to get stuck in our heads without our permission. They’re studying human spending habits on Tuesdays at 7pm, which shelves sell the most cereal, and which colors on a label sell the most cans of soup, instead of studying how to make life better for mankind. Half the reason I’m crazy is because of the fucking sick, sad, capitalist world we live in. 

This is what capitalism does, man. These big food companies are like all the other big companies, and they have to make bigger profits and become bigger companies all the time, or they die. So, the only way they can survive in capitalism is to charge us as much money as we’ll pay for everything we buy, until none of us can afford strawberries on a whim anymore. We can only enjoy them when we catch them on sale. A patient strawberry is only half as good as a sudden one, and I tell you, I don’t know how much longer I can do it. How much longer I can go on caring about your elections when most that I know are hungry in a hundred ways. How much longer I can keep playing by society’s rules and norms. How much longer I can pretend like it’s all going to work out somehow. 

And the thing is, I don’t even want to be mad. I don’t want to leave the store empty handed with a heart full of revolution. I don’t want to be cranky for weeks. Hell, I don’t even want a lot of money or things, I just want some fucking strawberries every now and again, and I shouldn’t have to be an outlaw to get them.

Dan Denton is a lifetime blue collar man that once served as a UAW chief union steward. Last year he left the factory security to bump and grind as a writer and touring poet. His latest novel, The Dead and the Desperate, is available now from most American booksellers. 


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