I eat Megaberry Crunch six mornings per week. My mother serves waffles on every seventh day, but let us set aside the Sabbath. What is unsurprising? I enjoy, like everyone possessed by a mouth, processed berries mixed with crunchy bran and 2% milk. I mean: I have always been human. But, on some mornings, I, with martial discipline, watch with spoon in hand while a portion of cereal softens in milk. It softens, bran flattens, berries deflate, the whole works (milk included) become discolored. Such mornings are called Sundays, and their wonders would be diluted if I engaged in the discipline any more often. Their frisson is more than balanced by the experience of Mondays through Fridays, when I must eat breakfast in haste and fulfill the citi-zen’s obligation to work.
Megaberry Crunch was developed in either August or September of 1975 by an independent farmer in a hamlet east of Lafayette, Louisiana. This Boudreaux had an entrepreneurial drive, an experimental bent, and a mourner’s need. He ground sticks of sugarcane to powder, mixed that with flour dissolved in the watered-down juice of all varieties of berry. He rolled the prod-uct into balls the size of curled up roly-polies and fried them to a light crisp which, after they cooled, sent both his pigs and his children into nonlethal but frenzied wants for more. He baked his bran with brown sugar and fingernail clippings hammered to specks. The latter were pro-vided to him by his and several nearby hamlets’ people as a moonshot investment in his fancy. It paid off. Boudreaux sold the formula to the Scabino Corporation and achieved financial free-dom. He used a significant percentage of the proceeds to restore the structural integrity of his and the nearby hamlets’ public schools. He funded a new cancer research wing at Lafayette’s Memorial Hospital, where his mother had recently succumbed to the disease’s mammary form.
Before my memory came online, the country endured the malaise of the 70s and turned, with surprising cheer and faith, to the malaise of the next decade. The citizens were helped (modest-ly, indirectly) by Megaberry Crunch. Sales of the cereal increased each year and, by the mid-80s, seventeen million Americans were calling Megaberry Crunch a satisfying start to their days.
My mother first purchased a box of it in July 1984. My father, apparently unimpressed, moved across town and into a luxury condominium with a younger man newly transplanted from Pennsylvania. He bedded a number of younger men and women in a number of luxury condominiums until six months before his passing, in the way common to his people in that time, in June 1991. He never developed an interest in cereal. I never developed an interest in younger (or, really, any) men and women. I have never coveted interferers.
My mother has never forbidden cereal. I have noted, however, her acidic side-eye on me on one or another Yom Kippur. On several weekdays, at least twice a year, she has suggested that I eat a waffle. Sometimes, she even sets before me, without warning, a scone.
Everyone knows that the Scabino Corporation could not widely distribute Megaberry Crunch if it relied solely on the fingernail clippings volunteered by the citizens of hamlets east of Lafa-yette, Louisiana. But no one knows whether the corporation utilizes clippings (or whole finger-nails) produced synthetically in a laboratory, clippings of non-human animals (cats are, of course, cheap and available), or the clippings of large numbers of overseas humans (clippings which may or may not have been obtained with express legal consent). Any of these possible sources raises an ethical and scientific concern: how might any of them, when used in place of American citizens’ freely granted fingernail clippings, affect a consumer’s health? This con-cern has rarely been enunciated and, so far as I know, has never been addressed in a publication or pronouncement of any sort.
Megaberry Crunch, particularly the softened Sunday version, has proven excellent for my di-gestion. When young, I regularly suffered both constipation and diarrhea. Since I began eating Megaberry Crunch, however, I have been seriously constipated (more than sixty hours) once, and I have suffered medically distressing diarrhea (more than three experiences of liquid ex-crement in a twelve-hour period) forty times. Thirty-five of those instances were a direct result of overindulgence in barbecue. I will not give up barbecue.
In July 1984, my mother and I briefly lost contact while shopping for new school clothes in a JC Penney’s that smelled as though lotion had been watered down and spritzed on the walls. When she said I might look tougher in khakis than in blue jeans, I hid among the parachute pants hanging from a four-armed sales rack. There, under a black and red shelter of merchan-dise, I became distracted by my miniaturized and smeared face in the rack’s semi-reflective steel. My mother must have gone to challenge the restroom. When I emerged, the world ap-peared to hold only me, the scent of lotion, and several thousand samples of boys’ legwear that did not fit my nonstandard waist/length requirements.
I wandered from rack to rack, unable to resist the temptation to slide, as I passed, clothes left and right in order to catch another of my smeared reflections. The landscape bright-ened and expanded to include a display of shoes (I particularly admired a pair of sneakers with a zippered pouch for storing coins), then make-ups and perfumes (that section was as white as the inside of a new refrigerator).
The employees must have crammed into the break room for cake and ale. I found no one who wondered what I was about, though a man did push a stroller and baby past. He eyed me as though I meant to glom onto his family and even to claim one of his absent wife’s breasts for my health and succor.
At the wide rectangular mouth of the mall, where hundreds of citizens entered and exit-ed stores that sold everything but appealed to me in no way (for the old toy store had closed down in spring and the new one would not open till winter), my mother snagged my hand. Any-one, she said, could sneak me into a fitting room and inflict the world. Didn’t I know how easi-ly a boy could be turned inside-out and shown his beating heart? Together, we pictured a young, beaten heart on the tile. We quit that day’s hunt for pants. We shared a giant mall cookie. Later, at the grocery, she let me choose the new week’s cereal. New life began.
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