It’s funny to me how a random smell or taste will open a door to memories. Something out of the corner of the eye or the scent of lilacs can transport me to a place long gone.
If you’re a chronic weight minder like me, then Jack In The Box is bad. Real bad. But I like to be bad, so I had a super-thick and -sugary strawberry milkshake and am paying for it as I write this. Without asking, the kids behind the counter will top it off with whipped cream and a cherry.
For a micro-second, I was eight-years-old and standing in my grandparents’ kitchen in Reno, opening my mouth as my grandfather maneuvered a cherry into my mouth. The cherries were kept in a store-bought glass jar and they stewed in their own juices, acquiring a not-so-bad metallic taste over time. Crunching the cherries and tasting their innards was always the satisfying end to a turkey dinner.
I didn’t know until years later that Grampa was an expert at pulling the booze out of the liquor closet beside the kitchen door. He had long-time issues with the bottle and his kids are still dealing with them today. Such are the long-term ramifications for short-term satisfactions.
But you don’t see these things as a young’un, but I think of them now whenever I bite into a bitter cherry: a little kid watching a grown-up pop open a jar and hoping one of those little red fruits were for him, and knowing now it would have been a good thing if they weren’t there in the first place.