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Popsicle Juice on a Sticky Chin

November 14, 2009

A solitary drip of pinot noir lands on my chin in a careless moment of inattention.  “Don’t waste it, that would be ‘alcohol abuse’,” I giggle to myself.  Frankly, that’s a little joke that never gets old.  The drip begins to slide.  It dawns on me that I had better get a napkin before I end up staining my nice white button-down collar.  “Pinot Noir”, my friend Kristen Hanson, the ‘casual wine connoisseur’, writes, “ebbs its way across the palate like lilting rose petals, triggering sensations of silk and velvet”.  Silk or velvet on the tongue, perhaps, but a nightmare on fine imported cottons!  Bounty, the quicker picker-upper.  Just in time.  Pinot noir, a wine that is not rushed but rather slow and thoughtful in its seduction, is one of those little “adult” pleasures I have grown to love, and fear just a little.

I couldn’t help but recall, as I went to the kitchen to fetch something to catch the dribble, about the summer afternoons of childhood when the Schwans’ truck rolled into the yard.  No calliope music.  No fancily painted pictures on the side of the vehicle to announce the day’s specials, just the simple pencil sketch of the ‘swan’ on the yellow backdrop of the multi-compartment freezer truck and the man in blue Dickies approaching the door to get mom’s order.  “What will it be for you today, Mrs. Wilson?”  he asks.  We never once had a ‘lady’ Schwans’ man.

Orange Sherbert Push-ups.  Perhaps.  Chocolate Fudge Sticks.  Sometimes.  Ice Cream Sandwiches.  Always.  Dad likes those.  Creamsicles.  Only if the toffee crunch bars are all gone.  Dad likes those too.  He works so hard.  What do you say, should we get him some of those?

But best of all—Twin Pops.  Those were the pricy version of Jel Sert’s Fla-Vor-Ice.  Unlike the Twin Pops, which include two wooden sticks, Fla-Vor-Ice is sold in and eaten out of a cellophane tube.  Also unlike traditional pops, they are sold in liquid form and require the consumer to freeze them at home.  Cherry.  Blueberry.  Green apple.  Peach.  Not a lick of real fruit juice anywhere in the things (and hardly any flavor, if one is honest), but cool and refreshing just the same.  That is, of course, if you have the patience to wait until they freeze.

Twin pops when turned sideways so that you can see the top of them straight on look like the eight etched out on the winter lake by figure skaters.  At that skinny point in the middle, you can press gently with your thumbs about half way down the bar and break the pop in two and share it, if you really wanted.  Or share it if you are forced.  I am a twin.  Enough said?

The twin pop is a gift that keeps on giving.  They are fruit flavored.  On the really hot days, on the outside of the popsicle seems to form a frosty white layer.  Put your tongue on it and it will stick.  You have to close your lips around the bar to get it to heat up just enough so that you feel the popsicle release.  The sticks make great bird houses and are just a little fancy—considering how much the popsicle stains them.  They are after all mostly high fructose corn syrup with a lot of food coloring.  Just a little dab of Elmer’s Glue on each end.  Hold it for a second until it sets.  Voilà!  If you arrange the sticks just right, they little house looks striped. Fantastic!

On those days, though, when mom would let us each have a whole twin pop, we’d struggle to get the whole width of the pop in our mouths.  Slurp!  Quick lick up that drizzle heading for the sticks before you get your hands messy!  Try it again.  Wow.  Get that popsicle warm enough and it really starts to flow.  ¡Slurp!  ¡Slurp!  What a mess.  Some of the popsicle juice heads straight down your chin.  Quick.  Your sleeve.  Oops.  Better not let mom see.  If you think Pinot Noir is hard to get out of fabrics, you should try getting Twin Pop off!  And why do you think she only bought us dark colored clothing after a while?

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