Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)
TITLE: Pass the Almonds, Please
By Joanne Malley
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Henry waved. I glanced and nodded.
I’m sure my lousy mood resonated through my half-hearted response. Then, I continued pushing my junky lawnmower.
“HEY, CLARK…I’M GLAD YOU’RE FINALLY MOWING YOUR LAWN,” screamed Henry from his yard. “I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR CHEETAHS TO CHARGE OUT OF YOUR JUNGLE.”
Amidst droplets of sweat that mercilessly tickled my face, the red dots of prickly heat, and my smelly pits, I was desperate to take five. I shut the lawnmower and responded to Henry’s wisecrack.
“Oh, Henry…ha-ha-he-haw…you kill me,” I retorted, as I slapped my leg and exaggerated my spastic moves and laughter.
“Your quips are sheer whoppers, but don’t quit your day job. Your jokes stink worse than my underarms. And, besides, they’re hitting a sour patch with me.”
“Sorry. I’m just trying to bring some lighthearted chuckles to your life. I know you’ve been struggling since your layoff from Cadbury Concrete.”
Henry crossed the street and joined me on the sidewalk.
“You know, Henry, I’ve been feeling like a big zero. I haven’t had a payday in nine months and have bills piling up. I was just daydreaming about how 100 grand could help me right now, I said.
“Hang in there, pal. You’ll be living in the land of good and plenty again,” Henry said. “And, Reese will have you back as her sugar daddy too.”
While he spoke, I pulled a candy bar from my pocket. It was slightly melted, but I was desperate for sweet comfort.
“What’s that, Clark?”
“It’s an Almond Joy bar. They’re Reese’s favorite. She and the kids love ‘em.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Henry.
“Not me,” I said, as I plucked the almonds from the candy and flung them into the jungle.
“You don’t eat the nuts? They complete the whole bar,” said Henry.
“Heck no. They’re dry and bland and hurt my teeth. They ruin the taste. I just toss ‘em and enjoy the good stuff.”
“You know, Clark, I think the creator of the Almond Joy bar was a genius. I found that candy to have deep spiritual meaning.”
“No way!” I said. “Don’t bore me with your ridiculous philosophy. Did your revelation come from the nerds at men’s bible study?”
“No. I simply studied the candy bar and compared it to life,” said Henry.
“Ok, let’s hear it, bible boy,” I said.
“Look at it this way. Let’s say your life is that candy bar and your days are filled with nothing but sweetness and everything’s terrific – like that sumptuous first bite of coconut. Then, down life’s path you take a bite that’s horrible and tasteless, full of bland nuts. It’s gritty, sticks in your teeth and it’s no longer a smooth sensation. Your perfect experience is ruined and you just want to spit. Unfortunately, you have a bad taste in your mouth for weeks, maybe months…kinda like you do now from your job loss and all those bills.”
“Sorry for the bluntness, but you’re an airhead, Henry!” There’s no meaning in that!” Are you saying I should be happy with the rocky road I’m traveling now?” I asked.
“Well, sort of, even though it’s tough. Those gritty nuts you hate are like overbearing pitfalls that pop up in our lives. We’re often thrown into mounds of heartache, but faith is what gets us through to the other side where we can rejoice in true joy when the struggle is over. When life’s bumps and hardships are smoothed out, it’s that much sweeter to bask in the joy. It’s then we can truly appreciate it.”
While in thought, I accidentally dropped the rest of my candy with my butterfingers as if it were a hot tamale. I was peeved.
“Do you get it now?” asked Henry.
“I suppose...even though your crazy reasoning came from far beyond the Milky Way.”
“Hey, Clark, why don’t we grab a burger at Mike & Ike’s Steak House – my treat. I’ve also got a yearning for their salad with chunky blue cheese dressing,” said Henry.
“Nah, but thanks. Have you seen my jelly belly? No more greasy burgers for me. I just ate my last candy bar for a while too. I’m resorting to plain almonds. Maybe I’ll acquire a taste for them - it seems like they’re good for the soul and the waistline. Your advice has proven to be a lifesaver.”
“Besides, it’s time I chase out the rest of the cheetahs. I wouldn’t want to hear sarcastic snickers coming from the neighbors!”
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