Today, I was in CVS, somewhere I don’t shop very frequently. I admit, that may not sound interesting. Actually, scratch the “may”… that definitely wasn’t interesting. It is still a bit odd, since you would assume everyone on Long Island shops in CVS every day, and possibly multiple times a day. In my neighborhood, there are more CVS’s than Starbucks. There actually aren’t any Starbucks around me; Dunkin’ Donuts have been kicking their ass lately in terms of rash-like growth. There is, however, a CVS on nearly every block.
(Insert awkward silence here.)
This is one of the worst starts to an article I have ever had.
Before extrapolating on a completely irrelevant tangent, the whole point of the previous paragraph was in the first five words: Today, I was in CVS. It is a very simple, humble beginning to my tale of triumph and rebirth of faith in humanity.
I was not in there to buy one of the more popular items sold at CVS (batteries, condoms, $24.99 copies of Miss Congeniality on DVD), I was in there for a far more shameful reason: purchasing diet orange soda. Granted, it may not seem overly shameful, but it really is. If you’re going to drink orange, grape, or a similarly childish flavor of soda, at least go all out and get the full sugar variety. Diet versions of these sodas seem like a cop out. Nevertheless, I did, and I enjoyed it. So back off.
While in CVS, I decided to pick up a bag of candy. This is a good thing to keep in your desk at work, so when you get bored just sitting there, you can do something fun to occupy your time: unwrapping the tiny, individually wrapped pieces. Okay, it’s not that much fun, but it’s better than other time killing activities. My current favorite is an old standby of mine: opening the Windows clock / calendar, and seeing what day of the week my birthday, Christmas, and other holidays will be decades into the future. I also like looking at dates in the 2090’s and thinking about the fact that by then, I will be dead.
Like every good story with a happy ending, the hero (me) must endure some sort of hardship, to make the eventual joy that much greater. As you can surely imagine, my trials in CVS were epic clashes within myself, that gave me a better perspective of who I truly was as a person. The battle raged on, my inner psyche daring me to come up with the answer to the age old question: Which candy should I get?
While describing the problem I encountered may make it sound simple, until you are put in a similar position, you will never know what it is like. Questions raced through my head: Should it be a hard candy? Should it involve chocolate? Should I try something new?
The first two questions were the hardest. I tackled the third question first, to warm myself up on an easier challenge. I knew that buying a giant bag of candy I have never had before would be a bold move, and unfortunately I don’t think I am quite bold enough for that. If I don’t like it, I’m stuck with a bag of crappy candy. I could theoretically give them away to coworkers, but that would involve me talking to other people, which is a challenge I am definitely not up for.
So I took the easy way out, and decided to go with a more familiar candy. I eventually ruled out any chocolate or chewable candy, since my pacing of eating candy is a bit rushed, so any easily chewable candy would be ingested fast enough to make me likely to vomit. Although vomiting would be a change of pace from the usual weekly routine. I’ll keep that idea on the back burner for a day when I’m really bored at work.
Also, choosing hard candy is engraved somewhere in my DNA. My dad always has hard candy in his pockets. I never have any of it, because they’re usually butterscotch pieces, and quite frankly I don’t want to eat something that has been pre-warmed by being next to a relative’s thigh for extended periods of time.
Eventually, the choice was made. For some unknown reason, I was very interested in a bag of sugar free “5 Flavor” Life Savers. I don’t think I have ever bought a roll of fruit Life Savers in my entire life. I may have bought a roll of Pep-O-Mint, until I graduated to the more high-tech Breath Savers. Eventually, I settled on gum as my go-to breath freshener, quite possibly due to the latent obnoxiousness of chewing it.
The actual name Life Savers is an interesting choice. It certainly makes sense, given their inner tube shape. However, it is odd they would associate the candy with an item that is directly linked to tragedy. When would you need a life saving tube, if you are not in the midst of jumping from a boat? After deciding that risking the water is a better choice than remaining on a sinking boat where you will be crushed between splintering planks of wood or impaled on a harpoon, you leap overboard, clutching the tube. There you will remain, bobbing in the water, until you are painfully eaten alive by sharks. Why would a candy company want to name their product after a situation that can only end this way?
Besides, what if you jumped into the water with an actual Life Saver? You would be doomed. They’re water soluble! Although once the candy dissolved, you would be able to decide whether you would rather die by drowning, being eaten by sharks, or floating on a piece of debris until you die of dehydration. And after all, that’s what makes America so great: choices.
I must admit, I was strangely attracted to the “5 Flavor” subtitle. I’m not sure why, it was just such a wonderful description… specific and vague at the same time. It was a candy paradox. Unlocking the mysteries of this five flavor assortment was an adventure I was willing to go on.
It wasn’t that bold of an adventure; I have done more interesting things in my life than buy a pack of Life Savers. Although admittedly, not many more. I already cracked the “5 Flavor” code: cherry, orange, lime, pineapple, and raspberry. The only reason I know pineapple is a flavor is because of a Mitch Hedberg joke, so I had some help on that one. I never would have guessed that one; pineapple is a pretty random flavor to include in an “original” assortment. Although I am glad they chose it. I like pineapple, and am glad I don’t have to venture into the treacherous territory of “Tropical” assortments, which would invariably contain some sort of vile banana flavor.
Upon returning to the office, I decided to have a cherry flavored Life Saver first. I figured since I hate cherry Starbursts (an opinion my goth friend Dersh appreciates, since that means I give him all of mine), I wouldn’t like cherry Life Savers. So by eating them first, I would get them out of the way. I was pleased to find out they taste remarkably similar to cherry flavored Luden’s cough drops. Now, that might not be the best taste ever, but Luden’s were the closest you could come to eating candy in class in elementary school. For this reason, they are held in fond memory by myself, and I would assume many others.
A little while later, I decided I would try another flavor, this time lime. I don’t mind lime flavored things, but I wasn’t looking forward to it very much. I removed the green Life Saver from the bag, and placed it in my mouth. All of a sudden, I was besieged by immediate and overwhelming confusion. After a few moments of attempting to regain a clear head, one thing became imminently clear: this wasn’t lime. It was watermelon!
! ! !
Granted, I wasn’t dreading eating the lime Life Saver. But when you’re expecting lime, and get watermelon? That’s like watching an episode of a show you like that you think is going to be a repeat, and discovering it is a new, hour long episode. I was overjoyed. While I can’t claim it to be my favorite flavor, watermelon is almost always awesome. Watermelon Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy (which the chocolate chip “seeds” = YES), Sour Starbursts… watermelon is the go-to flavor for maximum deliciousness.
The Life Saver also reminded me that soon, soon, Wattamelon Rolls would make their triumphant return to Friendly’s. Wattemelon Rolls are quite possibly my favorite food ever. I admit I say that about a lot of things, but this time it rings true. Wattamelon Rolls, cereal, and celery. I could live off of that. Until I died of malnourishment, anyway. But oh, the joy that awaits me, and will soon be upon me! My love of Wattamelon Rolls are indeed shared by my emo friend Jeff (but between you and me, my love is more true). We once consumed an entire Wattamelon Roll by ourselves. Unfortunately, this gluttonous tale would have been better in our intended location. We ordered an entire roll while seated at Friendly’s, and they wouldn’t serve it to us. They said we could only be served individual slices. We asked if they could ring up a box, and just give us two plates and spoons. But it was not to be. We had to take our roll to go, and consume it at his house.
So between the lime into watermelon transformation (you will notice that is not unlike the water into wine miracle), and the reminder that my depressing, Wattamelon Roll-less fall and winter would soon be over, my day was looking fantastic.
I was reminded of the words of poet laureate William “Billy” Corgan, when he wrote “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.” And while it is possible that statement may be slight overstatement for my situation, it comes quite close. Of course, in the video for that song, Corgan is running loose in a desert, driving an ice cream truck. He is free to eat untold amounts of Screwballs, Lick-A-Colors, and WWF ice cream bars. Lucky bastard.