October 19, 2009

Sugar Kiting

Beautiful Maisy who is barely seven has long claimed that the best food comes on a stick. She cites corn dogs. She cites popsicles. She cites blow-pops, and ice cream bars, and those butter-dunked ears of roasted corn you can get at the fair. She cites Chicken on a Stick, a frightening LOG of meaty, fried-y protein that you can only buy at an all-night gas station in Oxford, Mississippi. It is served with a plastic tub-let of dipping sauce, and you can choose BBQ, honey mustard, Sweet-N-Sour, etc. Come two AM on a Friday, there is a LINE of tipsy Mississippians outside that place so long it comes close to circling the parking lot.

Maisy has never HAD Chicken on A Stick, of course, but she has heard me speak of it with reverence. And she believes my hype, because, after all...it comes on a stick. How bad can it be?

Yesterday, however, was our FALL FESTIVAL at church. The youth group ran it. The Youth Group ALWAYS runs it, and it always has the same games, dug out of the basement and propped in a previously determined order around the front parking lot.

This year, the youth rebelled. They decided to make up their OWN games and leave that tired (and possibly carnivorous) giant clown face game (and all the others) in storage. You know the standard Church fall fest clown face game? It is a big wooden board painted with the HUGE sad clown face with the gaping horror holes in the eyes and mouth, and you try to throw the floppy, ten year old bean bags through? And you kinda suspect the mouth is a portal to hell because, after all, THIS IS A HUGE PAINT-PEELY PORTRAIT OF A SAD SAD EYELESS CLOWN. Gah.

So this year they had DECORATE A COOKIE booth---Maisy bee-lined to that one right out of the car and got immediately liquored up on sprinkles. They had Hay Ride and Cake Walk and Halloween Hair-Do with glitter and color sprays. They had face painting. They had an ALL YOUTH BAND that could play Wild Thing. And Louie-Louie. And that do-do-do-do song where the guy yells WIPE-OUT! They had grand a costume parade. They did a great job---it was definitely different from last year.

But...I could have done without Donut Limbo. They strung a clothesline, and then they threaded TWINE through the holes of powder sugar donuts and HUNG then donuts at varying heights from the line. The idea was, a youth would put a blindfold on a kid, and the kid would have to FIND and EAT the whole donut off the string. No handsies.

Maisy thought this was BRIL, if a little too complicated. She looked very seriously at the girl running the booth and said, “You’d better not blindfold me. I am just little. And that string needs to be longer. I can’t reach that donut!” SO the girl obligingly lowered a donut and left off the blindfold. For Maisy the game consisted of sidling up to a donut hung at exactly mouth level and taking delicate nips at it until it was all gone.

Later, I was inside restocking our welcome table, and I saw through the glass doors that Maisy had decided to up the challenge-level. She had allowed herself to be blindfolded and was standing once again at a conveniently mouth-level donut, chomping vigorously away at it. I waved at Scott through the glass and mouthed, NO MORE DONUTS ON STRINGS! NO MORE! NO MORE!

He nodded sagely, but a little later he came in to help me, and Maisy went off with my friend Jill. Scott did not warn Jill that Maisy had reached full donut capacity. When we came out of the church, there was our girl, blindfolded and leaping up to snap chunks out of a high-hung donut like a teeny, vicious piranha fish. She had apparently been out there honing her skills for quite some time, as her entire face and shoulders were dusted with a light patina of powdery white sugar.

“Maiy Jane!” I said, “How many donuts have you HAD?”

“Dunno,” she said, stopping long enough to peek over her blindfold at me and see if I was buying the DUNNO HOW MANY DONUTS defense.

I was not. “More than three?” I asked, stern-voiced, and then I saw her face light up with an IDEA.

“I dunno HOW many I ate,” she said, crafty-like. “I was BLINDFOLDED!”

Riiiiight. Judging by the way she ran in hysterical circles for two hours, hooting and shrieking, and then got a little weepy, and then collapsed into heap of sleeping child that had the consistency of a damp bit of overused rag, I am going to guess she had SEVERAL.

The Donut Limbo line has made a lasting impression. She now isn’t sure WHAT is very best. Food on a stick? Or food on a string? I suspect the answer changes depending on which food has the highest sugar content.

Posted by joshilyn at October 19, 2009 5:21 AM

i slightly change my comment from last entry. you can eat anything, but not everything. or you can eat everything, but not all at once. 'specially a bunch of high-strung donuts.

Posted by: dramamama at October 19, 2009 9:40 AM

Heh. Maisy's a cagey one.

Posted by: Aimee at October 19, 2009 11:14 AM

In several of Terry Pratchett's books he has a character named Dibbler who shows up whenever a crowd gathers (riot, natural disaster, fire, etc) and sets up a food stall. He sells questionable meats and his sales pitch is always, "...ON A STICK!" Works everytime so apparently Maisie isn't the only one who is fascinated with foods on sticks.

Posted by: Heather at October 19, 2009 2:02 PM

That is the funniest story I've read in a while - and the visual of Maisy running in circles while hopped up on sugar...I just collapsed at my desk laughing.

Posted by: Anna Marie at October 19, 2009 2:09 PM

Yet another priceless Maisey gem.

Posted by: Linda J at October 19, 2009 3:10 PM

I have seen rock candy, which is 100% pure delicious crystalized SUGAR except when it's also .0001% artificial coloring, sold on both sticks AND strings. So I understand beautiful Maisy's conundrum. When in doubt, I suggest using your string-food to LASSO you some stick-food and thus allow yourself to enjoy the best of both worlds. Yep.

Posted by: Badger at October 19, 2009 6:00 PM

I just wanted you (and Maisy) to know that Chicken-on-a-Stick is a delicacy available througout Mississippi. It's such a loved goodie that our team sold it during Realy For Life two years ago and we had people standing in line waiting on them to cook. We sold out in less that two hours and could have probably sold twice as many (or more) than we did. So come on back to the Magnolia State and I'll take you to Penn's Fish House (who has the best chicken-on-a-stick) for a bite!

Posted by: Lynnetta at October 19, 2009 6:40 PM

Ok, the cereal I was eating is now in some sinus cavity, because I was laughing so hard! I must remember Maisy's line " I dunno how many I ate, I was blindfolded" I KNOW this will come in handy someday!!

Posted by: Priscilla at October 19, 2009 7:34 PM

We have Youth Group envy over here, where they'll be lucky to hear Louie, Louie coming out of the neighbor's stereo while they tie knots to make lap blankets for the old folks home.

Maisy sounds like a tv sit-com. I bet she could earn her keep on Disney channel. ;)

Posted by: PattiH at October 20, 2009 10:27 PM

I am struck by how much energy comes into your writing when you're writing about food, and when I read this post, about food on a stick, it seemed like you were really on to something, the stick (or string) making visible some of the connections between people and what they desire and fear. This post has stayed with me since I read it and I felt I ought to comment and say why.

Posted by: Steve Lyon at October 21, 2009 9:03 AM

SEVEN? Beautiful Maisy is barely SEVEN?
How did that happen?
WHEN did that happen?
WHY was I not consulted?
Next you'll tell me Sam is very nearly a teenager.

Posted by: Kira at October 21, 2009 11:32 AM

I LOVE LOVE LOVE food on a stick AND donuts on a string. However, I am a Children's Minister, and so I have learned very quickly (and the hard way) to not let kids come back to the sugary games 5, 6, and 7 times.

Posted by: Jennifer at October 21, 2009 12:27 PM

Maisy the pirhana fish would make a great cartoon character.

Posted by: liz at October 21, 2009 1:22 PM

I have this quizzical Maisy Jane image in my head...

Seen with palms up...
balanced in one hand string food
balanced in the other stick food
A Ten-X dusting down forehead, nose, and chin
A wobbley question mark over those blonde curls
underscored by...

And the problem is?

Posted by: Cele at October 21, 2009 6:30 PM

Lynetta beat me to it--but yes, we have chicken on a stick all over Mississippi, and it's fantastic. The best part is the pickles, I think.

Also I just reread gods in Alabama (on a Sunday, no less) and I got more from it this time than the time before. Also, I love it.

Posted by: emily jane at October 21, 2009 9:15 PM

We get chicken satay from the Thai place. It comes on a stick, too. Once we had leftovers to take home and the helpful waiter removed the sticks so it would fit in the take-out box. Which rendered it inedible, according to my little boy. No good without the stick!

Posted by: EmunaMama at October 22, 2009 7:38 AM

OMG! Donut Limbo sounds SO FUN!!.. and of course, what child wouldn't like it? It's full of donuts, sugar and a big mess... just what all kids love! Great!

Posted by: Trace at October 24, 2009 7:45 PM