reading into things
(originally posted 8/31/2020)
Having taken the time and effort to switch sides of the table to avoid the beating sun I was equally as put out at the rumbling in my stomach. When I buy a new book and the day is bright and warm and there are no distractions or obligations to take me away from the chance to lose myself in the aforementioned, the last thing I want to acknowledge is a rumbling stomach. Particularly because it was three in the afternoon and anything I ate would directly impact my enthusiasm for a healthy dinner. At two I will happily grab some chips or crackers and at four I am equally stoic in my ability to hold out until dinner, but at three I sit in a land of shadows.
And sit I did, except on top of, or underneath or surrounded by, the shadows was the fact that the chair I was perched on was one of the uncomfortable metal outdoor numbers that makes giving in to the demands of a rumbling stomach that much easier. Moments later I returned to the table clutching a bag of cookies. Pepperidge Farms Verona Strawberry cookies to be specific.
Having prior experience with the bag I knew of the upcoming difficulties I would be facing in getting it open. I gripped the sides of the bag with the same steely resolve you typically see when two enormous wrestlers meet each other in the center of the ring and bring down their hands onto each other with a thunderous slapping noise.
Two cookies. That seemed a reasonable number to quiet my stomach without having any repercussions on dinner. For those of you unfamiliar with Pepperidge Farms Verona Strawberry cookies, they are situated in three sleeves stacked on top of each other, each sleeve holding six cookies. I debated briefly whether to just extricate two cookies and then fold up the top of the bag again or fish out the entire sleeve and set it on the table in front of me. These decisions are the kind that take place in the smoky back rooms of your subconscious, where you hear the outcome announced but have no real insight into how the decision was arrived at.
Moments later the sleeve was sitting on the table as I once again dove back into my book. Moments later two cookies were making their way down my throat towards my stomach. A few more moments and my hand was reaching towards the sleeve of remaining cookies sitting exposed in front of me.
It was like a horror movie made for cookies.
I had paid $24.95 for the book and only $3.89 for the cookies so I was not prepared to divert too much of my attention to figure out why I seemed unwilling or unable to live up to my original limit of two cookies. It was simple economics and smoky back rooms and rumbling stomachs and the day was too nice to worry too much about such things. It wasn’t until two more cookies had joined their comrades in my belly that I realized that while my eyes were engrossed on what was going on the pages before me, my hand was preoccupied with shoveling cookies into my mouth. The sleeve sat there with only two cookies left in it, the wind taking the opportunity to blow it around the table. Action was required.
I had to either finish off the two survivors or wrestle them back down into the bowels of the bag. I did the former and then wrestled up another sleeve, placing the new paper into the old to give the entire structure more integrity as it faced the continued onslaught of a gentle breeze. I did this without thinking. I was six cookies in now, at a cost of 21.6 cents apiece, and suddenly saw no end in sight to the cookie assault. The bag, now that only the bottom third of it contained cookies, began to dance on the table the same way that those giant inflatable tube men dance outside car dealerships. Inside my head delegates from the Committee for a Healthier Dinner stormed into various smoky back rooms with charts and graphs showing the importance of nutrition and how it is directly tied to appetite.
The book was a little slow getting started and before I knew it the sleeve on the table was empty and my hand was once again slithering down the neck of the bag and hauling up the last remaining cookies. I’m sure that Pepperidge Farms will be the first to tell you that Verona Strawberry cookies are not meant to be eaten a bag at a time. If that were the case, they would be laid out like Oreos. Dozens of them lying helplessly on their side waiting to be inhaled. Not so with the Veronas. There are tiers. Each tier more difficult than the last to get out of the bag. A bag scientifically designed to stop such gluttonous behavior. Even the opening of the bag is narrow to stop fat hands from getting at any of the cookies beyond the first six. 18 of these of these cookies should last a single consumer a few weeks. The only time you’d ever pull out all three sleeves would be at some social event. Eating all 18 simply wasn’t done. These cookies were “artfully crafted.” It said so right on the side of the bag.
A short time later I wrapped the lone survivor in all three paper sleeves, it was almost ceremonial, and the retired into the house to await a dinner I no longer looked forward to.