Monday, July 20, 2009

Junior Mints: A Cautionary Tale

We live in a dangerous world.

Sticky dilemmas lurk where one would least expect. Never mind the ceaseless tidings of ill that issue from every broadcast outlet, internet link, or newstand. We have now reached an unprecedented state of affairs in which the previously innocuous cannot be presumed to be safe.

Not that I am seeking to incite mass paranoia...but ratcheting up the personal radar may not be a bad thing. Especially if personal dignity is of any value to you...

To wit:

Yesterday afternoon, we were invited to join some friends to take in a matinee at the local multiplex. [Sandra Bullock's new film, "The Proposal"--now on my Recommended List for light comedy]

Now, I am of the persuasion that it is advisable not to take life's treasures for granted...and I endeavor, from time to time, to assist my husband in this noble pursuit, as well. Presuming and assuming can quickly degrade into an ugly habit, and I try to head this off at the pass, so to speak, when it comes to mind.

Thus, after the occasional Certifiable Dinner Date (requirements: adults only, off-site venue, no fast food, no remote controls or media screens, wait staff, ...well, you get the idea), I do my best to offer verbal cues as the old minivan-chariot groans into the garage.

"Thank you for a lovely dinner. I think it might be alright for you to call me again," I intone.

Or, alternatively, should he be a step ahead, the exchange might go like this:

He: "May I call you again?"

Me: [Any of various appropriate responses, according to my lunar whim]: "That would be lovely;" "I'll think about it and let you know;" "I'm afraid my social calendar is chock-full for the foreseeable future, but don't lose heart;" "Shall we set it up now?", etc.

Admittedly, some might view such efforts as pathetic attempts to recapture long-gone memories of youthful courtship, or perhaps even psychotic breaks with reality. Afterall, anniversary #27 looms in four short months. However, I espouse (pun intended) a broad array of techniques to fan the flames of Continued Fascination and Humor for old married couples such as ourselves.

Hence, yesterday's stroll into the cinema lobby, redolant with the aroma of popcorn and Totally Synthetic Butter-Flavored Powder of a color Not Found in Nature, evoked memorable images of dates gone by. Times when I had only to ask, and the requested desire was soon in my hand. Hmmmm....

Me: "Do you remember when you used to get me a box of Junior Mints when we went to the know the big movie-size box that you can only get at the movie theater?"

He: "Yes...."

Me: [hopeful half-smile, raised eyebrows, eyes darting between his and the candy counter, only a few steps away...Subtle is my middle name.]

He: [Sigh!]
This stuff is SO overpriced...

The message is successfully transmitted and received; soon the familiar white, green and brown box is safely in my grasp as we settle into our seats. Try as I might to share the minty gems with my seatmates, it seemed everyone else is fully engaged with their popcorn. The entire Junior Mint stash is mine, all mine! [Note to self: Junior Mints at the grocery store or on dusty shelves at video rental outlets are invariably firm; overly firm; perhaps even...Old. While Junior Mints purchased from a harried teenage behind the counter at the multiplex are soft, fresh, delectable.]

However, on this occasion, even my appetite for the adorable minty nuggets was exceeded by the unshared supply.
Result: leftovers.
Quick mental assessment: bring the box in the house and prepare for the inevitable Offspring Assault and Sibling Skirmish. Or, just tuck the box back into the dashboard slot under the CD player.
No brainer!

But, as I'm increasing discovering as the years accumulate, things that once Seemed So Simple can acquire, almost overnight!, a new Dimension of Complication...

Fast forward to this morning: after literally weeks of coaxing, cajoling, threatening, and giving up, I found myself this morning actually driving Miss Cee to Summerama daycamp at church..."...just for one week! You may actually like it! And it will impossible for you to bicker and fight with your brother since he will be, like, three miles away!! What's not to like?!?!"

This, after four pre-dawn pleas for amnesty, the last one replete with quivering lip and an actual tear.

Genius stroke! "Cecily...would you like some Junior Mints for your lunch bag?!?!" [twinkle, twinkle]

In the rearview mirror, one small eyebrow arches. "You have Junior Mints HERE, Mommy?"

The box is displayed and rattled affirmatively. "Can I have more than one?"

SURE! Take as many as you want!! But, you can't eat them until lunchtime, which means you have to stay at camp until lunchtime, which you'll want to do, since you'll be having so much fun...and you won't believe how quickly the time goes....Junior Mints to the rescue!!

A short time later, we are inside, filling out insurance waiver cards, submitting a registration form and scholarship certificate (all those Awana memory sections added up to a nice perq!) and searching for a friendly little friend-face.

"But, Mommy, can you stay here?"
For how long?
"Until I tell you."

I take up my post leaning against the wall behind the huddled masses. A small, familiar face turns to verify my presence several times; a short time later, large blue eyes peer into mine.

"You can go home now, Mom....Mom, GO!"

I think this might be appropriate as an epitaph on my headstone...but, I digress.

Now, gentle readers, comes the Junior Mint Caveat:

In the brief time that I was inside the church, registering, reassuring, and being dismissed, the temperature in my parked car rose precipitously.

High heat + Junior Mints = A Sticky Situation

As I rumbled out of the parking lot, the solution was obvious: shake free the partially melted minty nuggets inside the box and pour them directly into my hot, dry mouth at the next red light.

It SOUNDED so easy....

Alas, any motorists near enough to peer inside my vehicle were treated to the following spectacle. The rectangular opening of the Junior Mints box did not remotely approximate the size or shape of my mouth. With one eye on the road and the other obstructed by a flap on the famous white, green, and brown box, I attempted to tap the semi-molten mass free from the cardboard interior.

Success eluded me. Undaunted, I fastened the top of the box shut, inverted it, and tried approaching the problem from the other end. Ah, that's the ticket! The ticket to a veritable avalanche of giddy, semi-melted Junior Mints cascading down the steering column and bouncing under the accelerator, while a few rogues wedged themselves in my lap.

Not only do Junior Mints have an inconveniently low melting point, but experience has shown me that they do not hesitate to stain clothing.

When next we see our hapless driver, she appears to be averting her glance and digging down between her legs to snatch up small chocolate disks and discard them into her mouth. But the more frantically she proceeds, the more quickly the pesky mints roll beneath her and into the upholstery! The car lurches forward as she simltaneously applies the brake and lifts herself from the seat in a vain attempt to avoid smushing another Junior Mint into the driver's seat! Sure hope no one recognizes me!! Gack!!

Not soon enough, I pull up into the driveway, turn off the ignition, and ring down the garage door-curtain on this sorry spectacle. No family members are in evidence as I slink into the house. This all COULD have been worse...

But, something seems to be stuck to my backside as I step up into the kitchen...something round, sticky, and minty...

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