The scuff marks you see on the floor were caused by my being dragged, kicking and scratching, into the digital age. For years I maintained anything a computer could do, I could do just as well with a paper and pencil. This is patently nonsense, of course, but it made a nice-sounding, if improbable, platitude. I even managed to believe it for a little bit. Then I discovered Microsoft Access and all bets were off. I keep a huge data base on Access and back it up on a little black stick. All this seems like a minor miracle or perhaps major voodoo to me but so far Bill Gates hasn’t betrayed my trust. While I haven’t embraced the whole social media quagmire, I have become a devotee of Marketplace (seriously, could someone please buy my cedar chest?), can navigate YouTube (sometimes even finding what I was looking for), and consider texting the best thing since … well, it might be the best thing ever.
Texting’s main competitor for the best thing ever is Cracker Jack. I love Cracker Jack: popcorn coated in a substance that will pull the enamel right off your teeth and your teeth right out of your jaw. And little slivers of kernel husks that burrow way down below your gum line where never brush nor floss nor insistent fingernail can remotely trespass. You know when you open the box you’re going to end up with a mouth full of hurt but you go ahead anyway because Cracker Jack are more addicting than heroin and only slightly more expensive. Cracker Jack must have been invented by a dentist for dentists because it is a potential orthodontic nightmare (or, depending upon which side of the chair you’re on, a way to pay your kids’ college tuition) in a one ounce box. Yes, one ounce. It’s the original recipe but it sure isn’t the original size. While there never has been a large enough serving of Cracker Jack, the current offering of one ounce is just a tease.
The box promises “As always, delicious caramel coated popcorn packed with tasty nuts and a prize inside.” As has already been established, it’s delicious all right. I’ll give them that. But “packed” with tasty nuts? My friend Nora Kay sent me a case of Cracker Jack. That’s what kind of good friend she is. A case. In the interest of research, I opened two boxes right away to compare the packed-ness status of the peanuts. One box had three peanuts. The other box had two. I don’t think two peanuts, tasty or not, constitute being “packed.” But the boxes were opened and this was all for science, so I ate both servings.
Aside from the very real possibility of causing multiple kinds of dental damage and the specter of cavities, the next best thing about Cracker Jack is the prize. It’s sort of what Cracker Jack is famous for. Popcorn, is, let’s face it, a pretty pedestrian snack, even with sugar goo poured all over it and the occasional random peanut.
What sets Cracker Jack apart from other heart-stopping food stuffs is the prize. It used to be neato stuff like press-on tattoos and plastic rings. Just can’t have enough plastic rings. So it was with great anticipation I dug down into the box and fished out that narrow paper envelope. The narrow paper envelope was very. Narrow that is. This certainly wasn’t any secret decoder ring. It wasn’t even big enough to be a little comic book featuring the kid on the box (Sailor Jack. I am not making this up) and his little dog Bingo. No. The package was just barely big enough to say I had to “Blipp a surprise.” Blipping did not sound like anything Sailor Jack ever had to endure and I was right. Now, in the year 2019, we have finally approached the apocalypse. Blipping your surprise — your Cracker Jack surprise — involves a smart phone. To repeat, a smart phone is necessary to find out what your prize is in Cracker Jack. You know it’s going to be a bad, non-analog kind of day when the directions for discovering your prize start out “Download the free Blippar App.” Any process that requires one more app to be downloaded onto my phone is going to be intensely questioned as to the worth of that process. Blipping a surprise doesn’t even come close to being download-worthy. So I guess I will not be able to “aim and frame” my prize to reveal a “fun digital experience.”
For me, the fun digital experience will remain trying to dig those husks out of my teeth with my fingers.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.