S’mores (The Short Stories Series)

S’mores aren’t a food.

I know, I know. How can I say that a concoction of graham crackers, chocolate, and roasted marshmallow isn’t a food?

It isn’t. Allow me to explain.

S’mores need a special environment in order to be created. The two main requirements are a campfire, and several young children. The scenario usually goes something like this:

The family is on a camping trip. Or not. Maybe the family is just enjoying a beautiful summer evening in their yard. Enter children.

“MOMM!!! Mom, can we start the campfire and make s’mores? PLEEEEEASE!! C’mon, mom, you’ve got the stuff for s’mores, and you keep saying we can make them sometime!” (Wait one nanosecond) “WELLLLLLLL!?!?”

Mom, who is busy with something, possibly clearing up from supper, maybe taking a shower, or perhaps performing brain surgery on someone, answers one of two ways:

“Whatever. Just don’t burn yourself.” (This mother invariably has several children). Or,

“Ask your father.” (This mother is usually annoyed at the father for something).

If the children don’t get one of these answers or a variation thereof, the question is simply repeated until they receive one of the two accepted answers.

The children take either answer as a yes, and proceed to begin the process of starting the fire. Enter smoke alarm(s) – any and all within a two mile radius. This is usually where the father steps in and, choking and gasping, scatters the smoke bomb that consists of an equal ratio of wadded up napkins and paper plates to grass and wet leaves. He lifts the dripping log out of the center of the pile, and scrapes the toothpicks and already-burned matches (about three boxes worth) that surrounded the log into a pile, then proceeds to use up the last box of matches lighting the fire.

As the father is occupied with this procedure, the children borrow his knife, the kitchen scissors, hedge clippers, butcher knives, or any other potentially dangerous cutting tools they can get their hands on. They proceed to cut two different sizes of wood to roast their marshmallows with – twigs and logs. The twigs generally break in half before they get back to the campfire, and the few that do survive the 15-foot trek are inevitably broken by the weight of the first marshmallow that gets crammed onto them. This leaves the logs. And as the father is still vainly lighting match after match and applying them to the kindling, he gets poked in the back with these logs and asked to whittle them down so they can fit a marshmallow on the end. Not having a chainsaw handy, he refers them to the mother, and she ventures out and cuts each child a more appropriate stick.

Around this time, the father has finally managed to get one of the toothpicks to catch fire. It goes out instantly, partly because of the several marshmallows that get shoved into it, and partly because of the rush of air as the father yells:

“NO! Back off! It’s not hot enough to roast them yet!”

He finally re-starts the fire, and coaxes it to life, warding off helpful hands throwing everything from grass and napkins to logs and leftovers from supper at the flame to “help get it going.”

Finally, he decides that the fire is strong enough to withstand the children and their marshmallows. He sends the mother a glare, and pulls the entire 12-pack of beer out of the cooler.

By now, the flames from the marshmallows are higher than the flames from the campfire. After hyperventilating toward their marshmallow, each child races to the mother, shoving the stick with the burning glob on it under her nose.

“Mom! Mom, it’s on fire! Put it out!”

The mother puts the marshmallows out, calms the children, and puts fresh marshmallows on the sticks. The partially cremated marshmallows end up one of two places – either in the child’s hair, or in another child’s hair. The second marshmallow melts into the fire. The third marshmallow catches on fire, and by now the children are experienced enough that they put it out themselves. This is accomplished by dropping the stick on the ground and jumping up and down on the flaming part. The remainders of this third marshmallow (the part that isn’t stuck to the bottom of the child’s shoe) ends up one of two places – it is either fed to the dog, or, in the absence of a dog, it is placed somewhere where the father will step on it the next morning with his bare feet (ideally, somewhere outside where this will happen, but if it’s not likely to happen outside, it may be placed indoors). The fourth marshmallow is considered eatable, half of it being blackened and the other half still white and soft. It is carried to the mother, who places it on a graham cracker along with a sliver of chocolate. The majority of the chocolate has been eaten by the mother and father as they watched the children roast their marshmallows, therefore the remaining half a bar must be rationed out carefully so each child will get some.

The child now has their precious s’more. Does this get eaten? Well, the child does bite into it as he or she rushes back toward the fire. But then he trips and falls in the grass. If there is a dog in the mix, the dog rushes over and licks the child’s face, and the child feeds the dog the rest of the s’more. If there isn’t a dog, the child “eats” (translated to mean smears all over his face) the parts of the s’more that are mixed with grass, and tosses the rest of it, bite by bite, into the fire to see how well it burns. The children then proceed to “roast” the rest of the marshmallows, repeating the already established routine for cooking the marshmallows. One of four survives, although the acceptable one of four isn’t eaten by the child. It is offered first to the mother, then to the father, then fed to the dog, rubbed into their own or someone else’s hair, left on the ground, or thrown into the fire. This goes on until the bag of marshmallows is empty.

I repeat: S’mores aren’t a food. S’mores are a toy used to amuse young children around a campfire.


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