Fruit Case




or



The Best Things in Life Are 2/$1




Winter, 2003





A Hostess Fruit Pie.


I had to have one.

Well, first I had to borrow $80 from Mannie because we were overdrawn in both of our checking accounts. A quick run up to the bank up by Eagles to deposit $50 (you get really messed up when you forget to record a check!), and then back across town to our other drive-up to put back the $12 I took out Saturday. We would have been okay with that account if Dani hadn't gone after the last few dollars herself, neither of us knowing what the other was up to.

I had taken the $12 so I could go to Aracely's basketball game in Kewanee, which is about an hour's drive from here. I had just enough money for gas and the ticket to get in - and for a bag of Doritos and some Skittles for lunch (I am a real health food nut!).



The drive over to Kewanee was a riot.

First, I didn't really know how to get there, so I had to follow the team bus.

I nearly lost them right from the start.

They cruised through the light by the high school on yellow, so there I was, stuck at the red light as the bus drove out of sight. Oh great. If I lost them, I had only the vaguest idea how to get to Kewanee, after that, I didn't have a clue.

The light took forever to turn green - of course - and when it did, I tore up to the next light and just barely squeezed through (it was still mostly yellow, really!). The bus had turned right, and I could see it climbing up the hill - through the three stoplights on the main drag through town.

I was three blocks behind. No way was I going to catch all three of those lights.

I didn't.

"COME ON! COME ON!" I grumbled through clenched teeth, pounding on the steering wheel and tapping my foot in an effort to hurry up time. The bus disappeared over the hill.

The light FINALLY turned green, and I stomped on the gas.

I got through the next two lights, and up over the hill.

The bus was still in sight.

Whew!

And it was a good thing too, because a few blocks later they turned to take the tollway, and if I had missed that, I would have zipped merrily on my way, off to who knows where.

But after just a few minutes we exited from the tollway, WAY before I thought we should - I really had no idea where we were going now. But it was okay - just don't lose that bus!

We headed south (I guess!) out of Rock Falls down a two lane county highway and out into rolling farmland.

I love driving through the country. I love the way the stands of bare trees look against a gray sky. I love driving past harvested fields, past old farm houses and barns. We passed one little out-of-the-way antique shop, and the occasional local bar. I remember one, "Bob's Place" or something like that, a single, lonely car parked in front of a rundown building.



I had D's system cranked.

D had ordered these three 10-inch subwoofers off of ebay, and had them installed in the van, along with a 500 watt amplifier. When you crank that sucker up, and that bass starts pounding, it literally beats you up. And I had it cranked. I mean CRANKED. I was singing along with U2 ("And I STiiiillll haven't found what I'm looking for") at the top of my lungs - and I couldn't hear myself!

I was having a blast. And I remember thinking...

You know, I need to do this more often. Life is too short. It is too rich, too full of incredible, wonderful things to let it slip by without grabbing a hold of every moment of it. I really need to live with more passion; more let-it-all-out, blood-flowing passion.


I am just way too wimpy.


Too afraid to take a chance. Too hesitant. Too willing to put up with okay.


Too afraid to look someone straight in the eye and say, "I love you."












Anyway, back to today!

So on my way home from the bank, I remembered we only had one egg left in the fridge, and I was really hungry for a couple of fried eggs for breakfast. So I made a quick stop at Food Pride, our little neighborhood grocery store.

Pulling up, I saw by the sign in the window that, once again, I was NOT the big winner of the $1,700 in the weekly sweepstakes. Rats. Now it's back down to a measly $200, and it will be weeks before it builds up to that much again.

I have been playing this sweepstakes for years it seems. You write your name on a slip of paper and it goes into a barrel. Then you get a card, and if your name is drawn, and you had your card punched that week, you win the kitty.

I am beginning to wonder if my name is really IN the barrel.

But then, if I were to ask, and we started pulling handfuls of slips out of the barrel to see if it really IS in there, it would probably take hours of sifting through slips of paper before we finally found mine.

And each week I am expecting it to come up on ONE try!


Well, I picked up a carton of medium eggs - I didn't want to spring for the extra 20 cents for large eggs since we only had $6.00 to last us until payday - and on my way to the check out counter, I passed the Hostess display. The driver was just restocking the shelves.

"What happened to the 79 cent cupcakes?" I asked. They were just there a minute ago.

"Sorry," he said, "She's got them," (nodding towards the grocer's wife). "I could give you one, but it wouldn't do any good. The price has already been changed in the computer."

Aren't computers wonderful?!!!!

Rats.

So much for a cheap snack. I heard the driver say something about fruit pies as I headed to the check out counter, but I wasn't really listening, my mind was still focused on that rich, dark, chocolatey cake and that white cream filling of a Hostess cupcake that I just missed out on.

But, about half way home, that little mention of a fruit pie began to float around in my head.


An hour or so later, I had to pick D up at the high school, and by then I just HAD to have a fruit pie. So we made another quick detour to Food Pride.

Fruit pies were on sale now! 2 for $1.00. That's what the guy was trying to tell me! What a coup!!!!

Of course, I had to buy 2, but I stuffed the other one in my pocket before I got back out to the van so D wouldn't see it.... I rationalized my completely childish behavior with the idea that D - who has been trying to lose some weight - didn't really NEED a fruit pie.


Like I did!!!


What have I come to?? A grown man, hiding goodies from his own son!!! One of these days I may grow up.

Anyway, I got home, D headed off to work, and I sat down here at the computer with a cup of tea and ripped open the wrapper of my prize - a fresh cherry Hostess fruit pie (I still can't decide which is my favorite - cherry or blueberry. Apple, or - GROSS - lemon; forget it!).

Now, the whole reason I am going on and about this is this.

An amazing and wonderful thing happened.

The moment I ripped open that wrapper, and the smell of that fruit pie hit my nose, I was immediately taken to a steamy ski lodge when I was maybe 12 years old, clomping along like Frankenstein in my big heavy ski boots, my glasses completely fogged over from just coming in from the slopes, where it was, like, 10 degrees below zero out.

Instead of sitting here at my computer, for a brief moment I was sloshing through all that melting snow on the soggy boards of the ski lodge floor, up to the concession counter, and ordering a fruit pie and a cup of steaming hot chocolate.


It is so cool how powerful smells can be!


That's all I really wanted to say!




Oh, I once heard that the REASON smells are powerful like that (how the smell of mothballs takes me instantly to my grandparents basement, say) is that the part of our brain that processes smell is right next to the part that processes emotion. So the two are very strongly linked.

Makes sense to me.






Next...






by Paul Dallgas-Frey
January 30, 2003



click here to go back to Half Baked Stories



back to Navigation Central

Navigation Central




2003 Paul Dallgas-Frey