Pauza Magazine Winter 2008 - Page 7

When a Care Package Contains Questionable Goodies: My Collection of Marshmallow Cream by Anne Withers Everyone loves care packages from home. Whether it is that little white postcard with your name misspelled and a precious checkmark next to ????? or the mail carrier finding you at work with a battered and bruised cardboard mess, packages are a highlight for everyone, if not for the contents, then for the knowledge that someone is thinking about you and missing you back home. But let’s face it, the contents are pretty amazing! From warm socks to Mint Double Stuf Oreos, and from taco seasoning to marshmallow cream, the gifts are appreci… Wait a second, marshmallow cream? But I don’t even like marshmallow cream! Why is Mom sending me marshmallow cream—in large quantities no less? I’ve received a grand total of three jars of marshmallow cream since setting foot in Macedonia. Three jars of incredibly sticky, incredibly sugary, incredibly white…stuff. The first jar arrived during training so I pawned it off on the my fellow Sveti Nikole gang and we generally used the sugar rush provided by a sandwich of those butter cookies and white cream to kick-start our brains for four hours of language class. (They are cookies, dang it! Biscuits are a breakfast food meant to be smothered in gravy and I really miss them so stop reminding me of them all the time with your British English food wrappers! URRRGGGHHHH!) Why do I get marshmallow cream in my beloved packages? I don’t know. Sometimes I request things, like a potato peeler or some sweat-proof sunscreen. My mom is pretty good at following through; I think it’s because if nothing else it gives her something to do, some way to help as I “suffer” through two years without a Wal-Mart. I bust into packages with unbound enthusiasm, as much as one can with my one-inch Swiss army knife, completely ignoring the Skopje Customs tape and the fact that someone else has riffled through my treasures. I almost always have candy— Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses, whatever—and I locate this as fast as possible, shoveling the first piece in my mouth within minutes. I’m sure this whole process is amusing and terrifying to my colleagues when a package arrives at work. I must look like a cartoon villain greedily clutching my evil crystal ball, and then only after I notice they are all staring and with my mouth full of chocolate do I extend my hand and say, “Saka{?” By the end of a “package day,” I relive the memories of a fouryear-old’s stomachache from raiding the candy stash. I’ve spent quality time caressing the Jif Peanut Butter, assuring the perfect, plastic jar with its freshness seal that its day will come for joyous release. One of my favorite parts, as I lie on the couch in a sugar coma, is watching my cat, Aleksandar, jump and pounce and roll and throw and smack and “other verbs” his new toys. No package comes without some fresh mouseys or other catnip vessels for him to chase. So as he runs around and around my feet, I unload the last of the contents of the box, some Lipton Noodle packets and KoolAid (Tropical Punch, baby!). I gather all the Wal-Mart sacks used as stuffing only to find the dreaded jar. It’s sitting there in the back corner of the box, waiting to surprise me until the end, as if it knew the simple sight of its blue screw top would produce a look of shear terror. I run away, not wanting it to have the satisfaction of seeing my reaction. After a few minutes, I compose myself and steel myself to be brave. I approach slowly. I grab the jar and carefully place it in the top cabinet next to its friends and shut the door. Occasionally, I have requested marshmallows and Rice Krispies, which may have caused the cream fascination. But never did I send an e-mail stating a desperate need for the cream. Never, I tell you! I don’t like the stuff. I even remember Mom would buy the stuff when I was a kid. I’d eagerly spread some on a graham cracker, eating a total of a couple spoonfuls before I’d remember that it’s not my favorite thing in the world. Then I would quickly put the jar in the bottom cabinet never to see the light of day again. But it wouldn’t be lonely because soon others would share its fate, banished to the back of the cereal cabinet for all eternity. Seriously, I think there were at least five jars populating the space by the time I left for college. So then I have to wonder, is this the fate of all marshmallow cream jars, shoved to the back of cabinets and forgotten? Does anyone ever actually eat marshmallow cream or does every household throughout the world have the same shameful, unspoken, dark corner? Are over-eager moms brainwashed along the sugar aisle in the grocery store to forget everything they know about their children to think, Marshmallow cream, little Billy loves that stuff. Let me buy it because I think we’re out? Is some super villain planning to take over the world through robots submerged in marshmallow cream jars that he will activate once they are properly dispersed in cabinets worldwide? Maybe I digress a bit. My point is this: We all love packages from home, but sometimes we don’t love all the contents therein. But we can’t tell our collective moms to stop sending a particular item because they might get offended and send nothing at all, leaving us all without an adequate supply of hot chocolate and taco seasoning (don’t even think about that horror)! So there they will sit, two jars of marshmallow cream, waiting in vain in the back of my cabinet. Unless—oh yes, there is an unless—unless there is a chance, granted a very long-shot chance, that one person out of seventy-one volunteers actually eats marshmallow cream. In my opinion, this is a long shot because I’m almost convinced of the super villain hypothesis, but if that person comes forward, he or she can once again satisfy his or her taste buds with a sticky bite of sweet heaven. And I can clear space in my cabinet for new arrivals. winter 2008 -