Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

I knew what I wanted to write about from the minute my eyes popped open this morning. I popped out of bed to get an early start, thinking nothing in particular. And a word popped so distinctly, if arbitrarily, into my head that I knew I had to use it and have a little fun. It might be a little corny, but I figured I could come up with a thing or two to say about it.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not even going to tell you.

I’m going to tell you a story instead.

Ralph and I go through phases. Many of them revolve around food. Sometimes it’s ice cream, and we go out day after day and buy bucket after bucket of ice cream. Always the same kind, though. If we get into a Texas Sheet Cake ice cream phase, then it’s Texas Sheet Cake ice cream every day.

Sometimes it’s pastries. Sometimes it’s Ritz crackers.

You never know when a phase might strike or how many boxes, bags or containers of a thing it will take to make it through. The down side is that when the phase is over, it’s done for a while. So sometimes I’ll stock up on tortilla chips, say, and suddenly the phase will be over but there will still be three bags of tortilla chips in the pantry.

Then I have to get creative and figure out how to crush them into small enough crumbs so I can bread chicken cutlets with them or something.

A number of years ago, back when we lived in our condo, we went through a popcorn phase. Not just any old popcorn, but a very specific brand of kettle corn, the name of which escapes me now, but it was perfectly light and sweet and crunchy.

We bought a lot of it.

Another phase we periodically go through is “behave like college kids who live in a dorm,” which involves leaving laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink and half-opened mail on the table and empty pizza boxes on the counter.

It just so happened that our popcorn phase coincided with our college dorm phase, so one night, after watching TV until some college-dorm-like hour, we left our half-eaten bag of popcorn on the floor next to the sofa and went to bed.

The good thing about that, is the next evening when we wanted to sit and watch TV, our bag of popcorn was waiting.

The not as good thing about that, is that we were not the only ones who enjoyed a sweet midnight snack.

Let me tell you about the floor in my condo. It was a gorgeous, glossy, rich dark brown hardwood.

The kind of hardwood where you would not notice, say, a company of ants streaming through the sliding door and into your bag of popcorn.

We sat down to watch TV, and Ralph reached into the bag for a handful of popcorn.

Without taking his eyes from the screen, he popped it into his mouth. Reached back in the bag. Did it again.

What followed went a little something like this.

Ralph: My mouth feels weird.

Me: Weird how? Did you chip a tooth?

Ralph: No, just…. like something is weird. [Rubs a gum.] What the… !?!?!?!

Followed by a flying leap off the couch, followed by much spitting, swearing, brushing of teeth and using of mouthwash.

Followed by never, ever going through another popcorn phase again.

And so, when my brain for reasons of pure arbitrary psychology landed on that word today, I knew exactly the story I would tell.

It’s not like I wanted popcorn. Don’t get me wrong, I still like popcorn, although I stick mostly to the air popped kind and never leave it unattended on the floor. There was quite literally no reason for me to choose that word, any more than there was a reason to choose manhole or obsequious.

But as seems to happen more and more lately, the universe eventually revealed its plan.

Later this evening, as I was working my way to inbox zero, I saw an email from our community management office. One of the nice perks about living here is occasionally you get free stuff, in the form of donuts or dog treats or cookies. It’s how I got addicted to Tiff’s Treats in the first place. They showed up, handed out free cookies and a gift card, and I’ve happily given them my money since.

Today’s email alerted me to the fact that tomorrow is… wait for it… National Popcorn Day. And if we stop by the office we can fill ourselves on free kettle corn. The lightly sweet perfectly crunchy kind.

You’d better believe I’ll be walking downstairs for that one.

Photo: an early evening, not sweet, completely attended bowl of popcorn.