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Mind Over Matter


Some people swear by Little Debbie treats. Not me. I'm more of a Ding Dong (or as they're called now "King Dons") man. Gimme five chilled Ding Dongs and a big ol' tumbler of cold milk, and I'm six again, and it's gonna be summer forever...

But dried apicots are the devil's work. I hate the way one will stick to the roof of your mouth and you take your tongue and try to dislodge it without anyone getting wise to what you're up to and then it slides down your gullet and oh-my-God just hangs there! causing your throat to close up tighter than a miser's fist and then your eyes roll back in your head and you turn blue and you fall off the chair onto the restaurant floor in front of everybody and just before you die some old guy with a forefinger as big as a Johnsonville bratwurst pries your jaws open and pulls out the sodden mass and slings it away and saves your life. Yeah, I hate dried apricots.

My wife is from Dutch-German stock. Once, early in our marriage, her tiny, nearly-blind, ninety-year-old grandmother decided to fix everyone "a nice Dutch breakfast" for Christmas morning. On the whole, it wasn't bad, but there was this one … thing … she made called "scrapple". I have no idea if this is a real dish or if she had an episode while preparing it, but the result was many black, rectangular objects, maybe four inches by five, each as thin as an excuse (she thoughtfully gave us three apiece), and made, presumably, of pork. Try this. Picture roofing shingles fried in a skillet and then served with lots of maple syrup poured on top. The flavor was unique, to say the least (gritty and tarry and greasy at once). Trying to be nice, my wife and I ate them and pronounced them a triumph. It must have worked. The old lady beamed like a queen.

To this day, thirty-five years after the fact, all my wife and I have to do is say the word "scrapple" to each other, and we begin laughing like loons.
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