Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A taste of home

A couple of weeks ago some friends from the US came to visit.  We had a wonderful time together and they left us with a delicious parting gift: Jelly Bellies!  A box of assorted flavors, including a few things we haven't tasted in a long long time.  Dr. Pepper, root beer, and black licorice.  Mmmmm!  We can't get any of those things around here, and the Jelly Belly factory does an AMAZING job of replicating their flavor.  Luckily Elise (who gets one Jelly Belly every time she successfully goes pee in the toilet) doesn't like the flavors I just listed.  She has never lived in America and developed a taste for them.  That means those ones are all James' and mine and we're loving every last little bean. You know, I didn't drink Dr. Pepper or root beer very often while we lived in America, but now that I can't have it I really crave it.  And now that I've had those delicious flavors in my mouth thanks to Jelly Bellies, I am feeling so so ready to step off an airplane onto US soil (or US asphalt) and drink some cold refreshing root beer (with crushed ice... I don't know why but that just makes it taste better).  

Today when I opened the box of Jelly Bellies to let Elise have her post-potty treat,  I decided to take one of the little treats for myself too (after all, I successfully use the toilet all the time!)  I grabbed the pure white coconut variety and as I chewed on it, a memory that I think I've repressed for the past nine years suddenly came rushing back to me.  Not just any little memory.  A horrible, embarrassing, and painful memory.   I could choose to keep it from you but I want to show you my life in a real and complete way... so here it goes.

When I was living in the college dorms, my RA would sometimes plan building activities.  I guess he wanted us to bond or something.  Most of the time I didn't take part.  I was a transfer student and everyone else was in their first year.  At 21 and with two years of college under my belt I felt oh so much more mature and cool than all those 18 year old kids who had just gotten out of high school (now that I'm 30 I roll my eyes at thinking 2-3 years is a big difference).  Plus I got tired of them asking me to buy them alcohol.  There was one particular trip though that I decided to take part in... the trip to the Jelly Belly Factory. 

We all loaded into a big bus type thing and set of on our 45 minute journey to Jelly Belly Lane in Fairfield, CA.  Once inside the factory we were greeted with the sights, sounds, colors, smells, and TASTES of those delicious little beans of flavor.  It was an interesting tour.  One thing that stands out in my memory were the amazing mosaics of presidents faces made strictly from Jelly Bellies!  Oh the creativity people possess!!  Anyway the tour ends up in the gift shop (of course) and as I browsed around, I just couldn't pass up the cheap bags of belly flops (mutilated Jelly Bellies), and the extra extra cheap bags of post holiday Jelly Bellies.  I bought the Hanukkah variety - all blue and white, perfect for your family's Hanukkah parties.  Oh.  Your family doesn't have Hanukkah parties?  Neither does mine.  I guess that's why this wasn't a big seller and there was so much left over.  I took home a good sized bag of blueberry and coconut mix, and another large bag of the belly flops.  I told myself I wouldn't eat it all.  I lived in a dorm after all!  And in the dorm you can just keep your door open and random people who are procrastinating from doing anything responsible stop by and chat.  And while they chat, I told myself, I'll have a nice little snack to offer them.  I'm so hospitable.  Plus, I reasoned, in a month or so I'd be going home for Christmas.  And my family would love some Jelly Bellies.  

The problem was that everyone else in my dorm bought Jelly Bellies too.  No one was very  interested in my bowl of post-Hanukkah  blueberry and coconut mix.  No one wanted the mutilated globs of buttery popcorn or lemon or cinnamon flavored beans.  So what did I do?  I ate them myself.  As I studied Organic Chemistry, I'd pop them in my mouth one by one in an effort to stay awake.  As I read my Linguistics book I ate them two or three (or maybe seven) at a time.  I guess my thumb and index finger were getting tired of picking them up and I decided it would be easier to scoop?  Mid terms came and I went into high gear eating those little suckers.  By the time I was through with my exams, I was sleep deprived, sick of studying, and I had blisters on my tongue and raw tender spots all over my mouth from eating indecent amounts of colorful little beans.  And my blood sugar levels?  Let's not even go there.  The bags of Jelly Bellies I had purchased - bags that were big enough to supply a family of 7 with Jelly Bellies for 6 or 8 months - were empty.  

I don't know how long I waited before eating them again.  Years probably.  And when our friend brought us this current box I was filled with excitement and joy at the prospect of tasting the flavors of America again.  If only I'd resisted popping that one memory inducing coconut flavored bean in my mouth.  Ick!  Bleck!  Now I don't know if I can eat another bean.  Well, maybe just one... or two... or three... or ... 469. 

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