Small Stories for a Big World: April 2017

The other day, Garnet came home with a bag of gummy candies shaped like butterflies.

Normally, she said, she’s not a fan of gummy candies, but the butterfly ones were so cute. As she plucked one out and started munching on it, she asked whether I would like to have one.

“No, thank you,” I said.

“Are you sure?” she said. “It’s delicious.”

“I have never been more sure of anything in my life,” I said.

That was true.

I can’t begin to say how many years it has been since I last ate a gummy bear. But the feeling of having no desire ever to eat another one no matter how cute is still as fresh as the first day I experienced it.

In general, I’m inclined to eat chocolate if I am going to eat candy, but I can understand Garnet and Alice and Asher’s interest in such fruit-flavored candies as Starbursts. It’s the gummy consistency I can’t stand.

It’s not as if I can pretend to be someone of discerning taste, though.

A few days after the butterfly encounter, I poured myself a glass of iced tea. I noticed that it tasted a little off, but not enough for me to stop drinking it. While I was sitting at the kitchen table, Sparkle Girl came along and helped herself to a sip.

“Ewww! Yuck!” she said. “That has soap in it. Can’t you taste that?”

At first, I was puzzled. Then it dawned on me that I had poured the tea into a glass that I had just used to drain the rest of the Softsoap out of the bottle, so that I could toss the bottle into recycling without soap dregs getting all over everything else. I had rinsed it out, but apparently not very well.

When I acknowledged that perhaps there could have been just a smackerel of soap in the glass, Sparkle Girl laughed. She took the glass over to the sink and started running water into it. Soap bubbles appeared right away, quickly filled the glass and were soon cascading over the side. It looked like a scene in a movie or television show in which soap bubbles run amok.

While I wondered how it was possible that I had failed to taste so much soap, I had the satisfaction of knowing that at least I had given her a first-rate laugh and a story she could pass along to others.

Sometimes I wonder where each of our likes and dislikes come from. In some cases, it’s easy enough to trace. Chances are good I like Coke more than Pepsi, because Coke was one of the special treats when we visited my grandparents in Concord as I was growing up. And it’s easy to see why someone who is shy is more likely to choose quieter colors for his or her clothes.

Other times, I have no idea why I like one thing more than another. Ever since I can remember, my favorite color has been blue. Why is that?

Is it because I find the color blue more soothing than red? Or is it arbitrary, and, when you’re born, you just come with a certain package of tastes? Given that I can’t notice the taste of soap in a glass, my package must have come from the discount bin.

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