Even though I'm pretty much a heathen these days, I do appreciate Christmas stories and am moved to tell one that took place back in December, 1988, our first Christmas in California.
My mom used to make these great
cookies. They were peanut butter with a Hershey Kiss in the center of
each cookie. They rocked. They were like their own food group. Row loved
them as well. That year my mom told us she had sent a box of them to us
in Mountain View and we were jazzed
when the box arrived. My dad had packed the box. He was the packing guy.
He could pack anything to withstand a direct hit from a bazooka.
Anyway, upon unwrapping and opening the box, we noticed this dreadful,
wafting, evil aroma of rubber. Really nasty. (Like walking into a tire
store or a modern-day Harbor Freight. If you've ever done either, you
know that smell.) Her legendary McFadden olfactory sense
operating perfectly as ever, Rosemary immediately made a face and backed away,
but I --- not wanting to believe what I knew in my heart was the real
truth of it --- grabbed one and popped it in my mouth. How could I not?
It was one of those cookies and... it was made by Rita O'Brien! You
guessed it, that cookie tasted exactly how the box smelled, only a whole
lot worse because it was in my mouth. It was dreadful. I had a boot in my mouth, but a boot I was,
nevertheless, yearning to chew and swallow. It was beyond dreadful. It was whatever word that "dreadful" uses.
We examined the box
and sure enough it was a box in which a pair of rubber boots had been
shipped from some factory and in which those (or other) boots had been
stored for what was probably a very, very, very long time. My dad had,
no doubt, found the box, had probably thought, "This'll be perfect!",
and had then faithfully worked his usual packing magic, all the while
never noticing (or simply ignoring) the delicate-as-a-hammer fragrance
of Eau de Firestone. Well, not being the brightest bulb at times, I had
to try another, only to remove it from my mouth every bit as fast as I
had removed the first one. I even tried airing out the cookies, but to
no avail. The odor was in each cookie, forever. In fact, wherever those
cookies are now, they probably still reek of rubber. Eating those
cookies was a non-starter from the moment Harry found that box. Those
cookies were doomed.
The word "heartbroken" doesn't quite cover it.
At any rate, being the kind person my folks made sure I was, I told my
mom and dad that the cookies were great, told them thank you, and told
them that I loved their thoughtfulness. I never told them the true
story. There was no need. The simple acts of baking them, packing them,
and sending them to us were better than all those cookies ever could be,
times 1000 boxes. In retrospect, it was just as well, because that
single box probably contained more useless calories than any 20 people
needed in a week, let alone the two of us.
I thought I'd share.