You may not be able to tell based on the incredibly cool vibes I throw out there, but I’m actually quite high-strung and weird. I like to pretend I’m this really laid-back woman who takes everything in stride, but in reality my brain is a picnic of nuts. And not the good nuts. The ones that are really gross. Like filberts.
Now, I don’t know what my parents did to jack me up so badly, but one of my oddities is that I can become obsessed with really obscure and meaningless things, like The Good One’s annual Box Tops for Education contest at school. I tell The Good One all the time that winning contests doesn’t matter as long as he does his best, but I’m inexplicably consumed with the Box Tops contest.
So even though I could buy the generic version of virtually every Box Top product at a fraction of the cost, I buy those stupid brands because I want to get out my scissors and cut out that little rectangle of contest-winning glory.
Yes, I realize I need a hobby. Keep your opinions to yourself.
So I purchase Ziploc brand baggies instead of the generic version even though I don’t even like Ziplocs. I purchase canned soup that I’m actually afraid to open because of my alumicanibotulisphobia. (Wonder who I need to see about making that an actual word?) I have several friends whose kids are in private schools that don’t have Box Top contents; I steal their Box Tops. And when I see a product that has two Box Tops on it, my pupils dilate and I get tingly. (That could actually be a circulation issue.)
You can imagine my excitement when I saw a local grocery store advertisement that promised a bonus certificate for 90 Box Tops if you purchased ten qualifying Box Top items. NINETY BOX TOPS!! Sweet Motherload, this was easily the most excited I’ve been in years. I mean, not since we adopted The Beast was I this excited. After years of lusting after them, I got a minivan last May. I wasn’t as excited then as I was at the prospect of receiving 90 Box Tops.
Now, if you consider that those 90 Box Tops are worth $9 and I could have walked up to the school and donated $9 without buying ten items I didn’t need, it might lead you think that perhaps my brain is short-circuiting somewhere and maybe some synapses are misfiring.
You might be right.
On the list of things I had to buy to receive the Box Tops was Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios. Now, I normally don’t let the kids have sweetened cereal for breakfast, (Completely hypocritical in light of my lunch of Hershey’s Kisses.) but the Honey Nuts had two Box Tops on each box and the regular Cheerios only had one, so there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to tingle. I’m pretty sure I would have bought a disease-infested rat if it came with two Box Tops.
Now, I should mention, I’m not judging you if you feed your kids sugary cereals. Two of my four sisters are crappy moms, too, so you’re not alone.
Three of my four sisters are crappy moms. (Right now they’re all trying to figure out which one I think is the good one.)
Well, let me tell you, The Beast loved him some Honey Nut Cheerios. Each morning he’d wake up and ask for “Nut Cheerios.” Virginia Slims Man or I would pour him a bowl and he’d eat that bowl and ask for more. He’d say things like “Deee-licious” and “Mmm, frosting.”
Well, as tends to happen with cereal, we eventually ran out of Honey Nut Cheerios. I knew that the first morning without Honey Nuts was going to be contentious, but I had no idea how Armageddon-like it would be. The next day when The Beast awoke, he called for me. I said a prayer for peace, made the sign of the cross (not even Catholic) and walked to his room to let him out of his cage. (I’m kidding. We have one of those door handle things on the inside of his door, otherwise he’d get up in the middle of the night and blow up the house.)
The Beast marched out of his room, climbed up to his seat at the kitchen counter, and said, “Nut Cheerios!” I said, “We’re all out of Nut Cheerios. You can have Rice Krispies.”
I’m not really sure if there’s one single word that can truly encapsulate how volcanic his reaction was, but do you remember that scene near the end of “The Incredibles” where Jack-Jack morphs from a sweet baby into a ball of heavy metal and then into a monster baby consumed with fire? Well, picture that, but instead of transforming into a superhero to stop an evil supervillain, The Beast transformed into an evil supervillain.
His eyes widened. His face turned red and his mouth contorted into a sneer. He jumped off of the bar stool and started grabbing anything he could reach and smashed everything into the ground. He threw himself onto the floor and kicked and punched, all the while shrieking “NUT CHEERIOS!!!” at the top of his lungs.
I’m confident that if you got on the government Web site that monitors earthquakes and looked at the graphs for that first morning without Honey Nut Cheerios, you would find that an irregular movement of the Earth occurred in East Texas at about 6:50 a.m. CST
I tried not to react to his obvious insanity and very calmly repeated, “Nut Cheerios are gone.” And when he realized that he wasn’t getting the reaction he wanted, he ran at me as fast as he could and started hitting me, and then, just for good measure, he spit at me.
Now, we’ve decided not to spank our kids, and on mornings like this one I really second-guess that decision. However, in spite of my desire to “take him to the shed,” as my dad likes to say, I calmly picked up The Beast, stuck him in his bed and shut the door. Then I walked back to the kitchen and cursed for five minutes straight. I said every swear word I know, then I invented a whole other language and said all the swear words in that language, too. Then I put $15 in the stupid swear jar my mom made me make at Christmas. (I kid you not, I’m 39 years old and my mother made me make a swear jar all because The Good One told on me. Narc.)
After ten minutes of weeping and gnashing of teeth, The Beast calmed down and came back into the kitchen and ate his Rice Krispies without complaint. By this point I had come to the realization that these little Box Tops aren’t so much rectangles of glory as they are rectangles of evil; gateways to hell, if you will. I’ve made it a goal never again to purchase a product specifically for the Box Top.
And to those in my family who tell me I need a therapist, you can just go ahead and zip it because I just cured myself of one mental-health issue without pharmaceuticals or professional intervention.
So that’s, like, one neurosis down; eleventy-billion to go.