My fried Susan’s son has very specific ideas about what a birthday cake should be. For his father’s upcoming celebration, Gus mandated this “strawberry cake with strawberries, and marshmallows, and Flinstone’s vitamins.” Then he ignored it and ate a lemon cupcake.
He may have turned his nose up, but I want that cake, especially the Flintstones. Do Flintstones still taste like they used to? I loved them so, when I was growing up.
My kids always ate Gummy-vites, which taste like slightly moldy Haribo. Nothing like the Flintstones I remember. Flintstones had a weird, metallic bite, like salty minerals trapped in sugar and chalk. I can still taste them.
When I was four, Mom left the vitamins out on the counter, where I could reach. I snooched the jar and spirited it away to my room. I had a little white play table with silver sparkles embedded in it, and I dumped my ill-gotten gains out on the surface.
My brother caught me sorting them, preparing to eat them in ascending order of deliciousness and character desirability. Green Freds (The Worst) all the way through to the purple Dinos (The Best. Obsvi).
When he questioned me, I lied without blinking. “Mom said I could.”
This sounded fishy to his older, wiser ears. “Why would Mom let you have all the vitamins, and not me?”
“You didn’t ask,” I informed him.
He stomped off to rail to our mother about the injustices of cutting him out of the chance to gobble whole piles of vitamins, that fink, and I was stopped before I had even eaten enough to require syrup of Ipecac.
I still love desserts that are Styrofoam-ish or chalky—astronaut ice cream, honeycomb candy, these extremely dusty cardamom cookies from a bakery up the street. Sweet foods that are so dry they suck moisture out of my mouth ping a joy spot in my brain. It’s the flavor of being four years old with a dragon’s horde of poisonous treats laid out before me, preparing to consume a feast of B vitamins and not knowing or caring that they will turn my liver into toxic sludge and cause permanent nerve damage. Only knowing Dino is best, and purple is best. Only knowing the pleasure of the now. Yum.