One at a Time

I’m sitting here on the couch, watching “Speed,” nestled under a pile of blankets, with a glorious bowl of popcorn sitting in my lap. Nothing comes between me and this bowl of popcorn.

I take my first huge handful of popcorn and try to stuff it all in my mouth. Come to me, glorious air-popped clusters of goodness.

And then, in the back of my head, I hear the voice.

One at a time, Rachel. One at a time.

When I a was a little girl, I would, every so often, be lucky enough to spend the night at my grandparent’s house. They would set up the “blow-up bed” in the living room, tuck me in beneath piles of blankets, and put on the Mary Martin live action version of “Peter Pan.” Then, as if my luck could not get any better, my grandfather would make a small bowl of popcorn: air-popped (none of that microwave silliness), drizzled with a little butter and flavored with just a dash of salt. The perfect combination of flavors all in the same bowl. To this day, I still air pop my popcorn.

I would sit on the blow-up bed and listen to the popcorn popping, clenching my fingers so tightly in anticipation that by the time my hands finally reached for the popcorn bowl, they had lost all color.

Papou would bring the bowl over to the couch, after it had been adequately seasoned, and sit next to me on the couch. Then the race began.

I would reach in for the kill, grab a handful, and try to stuff it in my mouth before:

One at a time, Rachel. One at a time.

I never understood why I was being deprived of such joy, and it used to drive me nuts.

Now, years later, as I watch Sandra Bullock tear down the tarmac in a doomed city bus, I realize the value of one at a time.

Yes, perhaps a giant mouth full of popcorn runs the risk of a child choking.

More than that though, I realized that if I reach for just one piece of popcorn at a time, I might be able to better enjoy that small, simple, bit of buttery joy.

There is nothing wrong with taking things slowly, enjoying life at a reasonable pace.

When I am full of crazy, as I usually am, chasing my dreams with insane obsession,  trying to pick up as much popcorn as I possibly can so to speak, rush through college, rush through life, I hear Billy Joel in the back of my head: Slow down, you crazy child. You’re so ambitious for a juvenile.

Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You’d better cool it off before you burn it out
You’ve got so much to do and
Only so many hours in a day

My conclusion of the day:

It is totally ok to eat popcorn one kernel at a time.

Thank you Papou for this valuable life lesson.

And thanks for all the popcorn.

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Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You thought all of that popcorn was for you! Actually, it always gave me an excuse to make popcorn, a low-calorie food I love.

    When I was a child, my mother would make a dishpan (what’s a dishpan?) full of popcorn for five children, using an iron skillet and a gas range. Very little food but, we had popcorn by the bushel. Yes, ears of popcorn were sold in bushels by farmers along the road. When we arrived home, the children’s job was to shuck the kernels off the ears. My hands still hurt from shucking but the dishpan of popcorn made up for the pain.

    (A dishpan was used for washing dishes by people who had no sinks or hot, running water. They also held lots’a popcorn!)

  2. coincidentally, I just had popcorn myself, although not air-popped. I should have enjoyed it more! Remind me to slow down too dear friend:)


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