Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red vests and "bon bons".

There is nothing more indicative of a true asshole than someone who goes on and on about how much they love the winter.
"Can't wait for snow!", they say in early October, when the rest of us are still trying to avoid wearing a jacket. "I've got my snowboard strapped to the top of the car, and my skates in the trunk!"
"I hope you get buried in an avalanche", I think to myself... Perhaps a tad harsh. "That is, I hope your car gets buried in an avalanche". That'll teach you to love winter, dick.
I've always been under the distinct impression that the more people that love winter, the more apt that winter is to show up every year. Fuck winter, and winter-lovers alike.

There is one thing, however, that only appears in winter that I actually look forward to all year. It belongs in the form of a green and red kiosk that shows up the day after Halloween in almost every mall in town. That's right: mother fucking Hickory Farms.

For those of you that are unaware, Hickory Farms is the mother of all kiosks. Usually, kiosks sell odd hair accessories and vacuum attachments, and swarthy Armenian guys, bathed in cologne, peddle these products by sticking their tongue in your ear or trying to steal your wallet.
Not Hickory Farms. When you arrive, you are greeted by the most endearing staff of all time. Most are either recent immigrants or over the age of seventy, and welcome you with adorable red vests and trays and trays of samples. They don't get mad when you eat more than one sample of each product, and will even help you combine samples into a whole new taste sensation. Smoked salmon rolled around smoked cheddar? If you say so, dude.
Trust me, these people love their jobs. They probably even get to keep all of the leftover baskets to feed their struggling families until the next holiday season. I've often considered throwing off the shackles of the work-a-day world and strapping on a red vest for a season, but I do not think I am worthy of such distinction.

They also have a catalogue that used to be sent to every house when I was a kid, which I would read cover-to-cover. No better bedtime story in the world. By late December, I would have many pages folded over and marked with red pen. I guess I was trying to signal something to my relatives. No more toys! I wanted a Fire-Glazed Ham or a tray full of dried fruits. Couldn't they see I was being serious???

Well, one relative believed me. My ex-step grandmother, to be exact, and on my eleventh birthday, I opened a box that contained a small metal sleigh full of a large stick of beef, festive pecans, and a cheese ball. Finally, a little faith in me. Peppered through the sleigh were several candies, wrapped to look like tiny cartoon strawberries. I don't know what they put in those candies, but they call them "bon bons", a hard candy with a soft middle. The main ingredients listed were corn syrup, sucrose, and artificial flavoring, but something tells me there was a sprinkling of pure love in there somewhere.

It's true: this time of year totally blows, but even the most hardened cynic can't find something wrong with baskets of wonderful sausage and cheese and "bon bons". Downright impossible.
I've often wondered if there is a real "Hickory Farm". If it exists, I bet it is full of happy, smiling animals, a big rickety red barn, and a ton of old-timey country flair. That, or it's a gigantic filthy slaughter house... Chances are, a little bit of both.

~sarah p.

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