Circle Snacks in All the Wrong Places

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Circle Snacks in All the Wrong Places

I’ve been batching it for the past week. The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Kimmel home has been in another state seeing to the needs of the newest member of our son Cody’s family. Which explains why I’ve been eating a lot of cereal. After all these years of marriage, Darcy still hasn’t learned how to start a lawn mower and I still haven’t learned how to cook. I can fill the ice bucket and wash the dishes after the fact, but I’ve never figured out how to pull stuff out of the refrigerator and pantry, rattle a bunch of pots and pans over fire and create an edible experience. So when Darcy spends a prolonged period of time away from the Kimmel compound, I go through a lot of cereal. Since childhood, I’ve never been satisfied to pour one brand of cereal in a bowl and soak it in milk. I must mix at least two types of cereal. What I really like is one cereal that comes in spoon-sized portions and one smaller type of cereal that you can mix and settle into all of the empty spaces. My favorite option for the crevices is Cheerios. We called them “circle snacks” when we dropped a handful on the kids highchair tray when they were little. They’re hard to beat when it comes to creating a great cereal combo for breakfast … or lunch … or dinner. This morning I finished off the box of Cheerios that was in the pantry. No problem, Darcy keeps a huge replacement supply of various cereal brands in an area under a counter in the laundry room. It’s also where she keeps a couple MILLION other items that serve to replenish various needs around the house. There was a stack of cereal boxes—about 12 high on a shelf. The Cheerios were second from the bottom of the stack. I grabbed a hold of the box and jerked it out of the pile. What I didn’t realize was it had been lying there for who-knows-how-long just waiting for some fool like me to do what I did just so it could explode in my hand. It wasn’t a spontaneous combustion type explosion, but it just as soon could have been when you factor in the actual debris footprint. Apparently, the combination of the weight of the boxes on top and the force I used to pull it out so quickly worked in concert to fire its contents to every point on the compass. I don’t know how many itty bitty circles of oats are in one of those king sized boxes, but I can tell you this, if you jerk the box up just right, not realizing that the other end has broken open and the air pressure within the internal bag has released, you can rain those little ditties into places you never thought existed in your laundry room. Cheerios went everywhere—including my hair and inside my shirt. It was like a million baby donuts playing hide-and-seek in every square inch of a room. Fortunately, I could still eat the ones out of my hair. Of course, my first thought was to just shut the door and act like what just happened didn’t happen. I could access the garage a different way for the rest of my life if I had to. Wouldn’t bother me a bit. The second thought was to wish we still had kids at home that I could challenge to an eating contest in the laundry room. I even suddenly wished we had a dog, or maybe even a cat that had a penchant for grain. Then, I quickly confessed my sin of wishing about having a cat. The third thought was: what will happen to me if I don’t clean up from the cereal explosion before Darcy arrives back home? Which is what prompted me to take EVERYTHING out of the laundry room and go on a search-and-consume mission for circle snacks. Before I was done, I had to pull a washer, a dryer, and a freezer away from the walls. I had to shake out a basket of clean but unfolded clothing and up-turn every one of the million+ items in storage that could snag Cheerios in one of its crevices. I’ve decided I don’t like Cheerios much any more. I’m not sure I’m even that big of a fan of cereal either. Regardless, the whole experience reminded me of how quickly plans get changed, time gets sucked out of our schedules, and we find ourselves on our hands and knees cleaning up from the out-of-the-blue explosions within our lives. It’s part of the random and unforeseen setbacks that hover over any given day of our existence. Today it’s Cheerios in the laundry detergent caddy; tomorrow it might be something that’s a lot tougher and even tragic to clean up after. But we’ve got to remember that there’s always something poised to explode around us. Whether it’s stuff or people, eventually the right (or wrong) conditions set messes in motion. We’ve got to be ready to do what has to be done—regardless of how inconvenient—to deal with the debris field, and put things back in order. And hopefully, you know who won’t notice the dust bunnies in her next bowl of Cheerios.   {Originally published in 2012}

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