Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
The Popcorn Palace
Sometime in the late nineteen sixties, a four year old girl was given popcorn for the first time. Her eyes glazed over. Schmaltzy sentimental "jazz" music started playing. She envisioned a palace. A palace made entirely of popcorn.
When she turned twenty she was thrown out of Redenbacher management training for seasoning her popcorn with cocaine and nicotine. Her parents were killed in a freak bubble wrap popping incident, leaving her enough money to start her own business: The Popcorn Palace.
On an unspectacular Veteran's day in 2004, The World's Gayest Straight Boy and I were walking in downtown Northhampton, MA. We were, like most people in Northhampton, bored into walking comas. We saw the spectral version of Yasser Arafat sitting on a curb, waiting to die. As we step around him, we came face to face with a small sign for The Popcorn Palace.
"Have you ever been in there?" I asked.
"No." said Axel.
So we went in. Our plan? To see the inside of the store, claim to be out of towners just wandering the streets and get the hell out of there without buying popcorn. The Popcorn Lady had other ideas.
Oh, she looked unassuming enough, popping corn behind the counter. But as soon as she was us we were marked. We were not leaving without popcorn. Lots of popcorn. A bucket of popcorn.
"Have you ever been here before? No? You're from out of town? Well let me tell you about our popcorn. We have sweet flavors and savory flavors. Here, try some, I promise it's not dusted with cocaine and nicotine, you won't be addicted, it's just popcorn. you are getting sleepy A handful of popcorn never killed anyone. Sure it went on trial for murder, but it was never indicted. your eyelids are so very heavy I just finished making a batch of vanilla popcorn. Try some, isn't it good? Wouldn't you like to buy a tub of popcorn?you want popcorn, lots and lots of popcorn Tomorrow the prices are going up. We hardly ever change the prices. sweet sweet popcorn makes all the pain go away It's been four years since we've raised the prices, but tomorrow everything gets more expensive. Imagine your good fortune at coming on the last day that popcorn is so cheap. I'm practically giving the popcorn away. Look at all the color popcorn tins. when I snap my fingers you will buy the blue tin Each tin comes with two savory flavors, and one sweet one. We never mix and match them. You should buy some online when you get home. Boston isn't that far. I could ship them in a day. And you could get any flavors you want. human flesh flavor is delicious Oh you're walking out the door? What a shame I didn't make the sale." *Snap*
"I think I'd like to buy a tin of popcorn. Perhaps with two savory flavors and one sweet. I would like it in...do you have a blue tin by any chance?" Wait, I didn't want popcorn. What the fuck was I saying?
So I spent twenty dollars that I don't have on a three gallon tin of popcorn. Sour Cream and Onion, Yellow Cheese, and Pina Colada. The Pina Colada is amazing. The other two flavors are...popcorn. The Popcorn Lady filled the tin to capacity, squashed it down with the lid, filled it some more, squashed some more, and filled again. There is now, a lot of fucken popcorn in the tin. "If you bring it back you get the popcorn for half price. Don't forget to wash it before you bring it back. There's corn oil in there." No shit? Corn oil in popcorn? "Corn oil rusts the tin. So wash the tin, thoroughly and dry it before you come back. And you will be coming back. Have a nice day."
The Popcorn Lady masking taped the lid shut, and sent us on our way.
We were about a block away when a woman ran up to me, looking as though she was going to give me her bag. "Hi, have I talked to you yet today? I'm giving an 85% discount to members of the community." I barely pause before returning to reality, I'd been hypnotized into buying popcorn, I certainly did not need...what the hell was this woman selling. "Radio pens." She held one aloft and walked away.
Radio pens? A Cross-Pen looking instrument with headphones attached. Oh, yea, a must have for everyone on my Christmas List.
Axel and I came back to Campus, where I bought some Cherry Coke and, along with a bunch of Hampshire students, out a sizable dent in the popcorn tin. Errr...the tin is not dented, there is just significantly less popcorn in it. And I'm still hungry.
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