I am the peppermint cookie you just got at the cookie exchange. It’s likely an annual cookie exchange party you endure every year. Probably at Jennifer’s house. Or maybe Michelle’s. No matter.
I am the peppermint cookie someone brings every year. I have likely been sprinkled or dusted or otherwise imbued with crushed candy cane. That crushed candy cane likely glistens. Perhaps I have an Andes candy baked and melted all up in my innards. For all we know I have been infused with some peppermint extract. No matter what guise I adopt this year, the result is the same. I am going to make every other cookie on your cookie tray taste like it’s been dipped in Listerine. The blue kind of Listerine.
This year I might be Connie’s crushed Oreo peppermint bark. Or maybe I’m Wendy’s white chocolate peppermint meltaways. Or Paula’s peppermint snowballs. No matter what guise I adopt this year, I have but one aim, to spread my Machiavellian minty molecules all over every fucking cookie on your tray. As soon as you said, “Oh Jennifer these look delicious!” and took a few of me and placed me gently on that festive cookie tray of yours, I began spewing my subatomic flecks of mint residue amidst and amongst and through the innards of all the other cookies.
Look at me innocuously lounging in your festive cookie tray. I’m adjacent to Denise’s gingerbread men. I’m bordering Brenda’s frosted sugar cookies besprinkled with red and green sprinkles. Side-by-side with Susan’s Snickerdoodles. Underneath Yvonne’s chocolate chip cookies with green and red M&Ms in them. They now all taste minty.
I am the Yuletide equivalent of that kid who vomits on the school bus and no matter how much kitty litter or sawdust or bodily fluid absorption powder the bus driver puts on top of that vomit puddle, that bus is going to smell like puke for the rest of the school year. I am school bus barf. But Christmas.
I am like that thing when you wear a lambswool sweater to Don Pablo’s and order the sizzling steak fajitas and the waiter brings you the sizzling steak fajitas and the fajita juice goes all over you and for the rest of that lambswool sweater’s natural life it will smell of sizzling steak fajita jizz. I am insidious. I am cunning. I am impervious to standard tenets of fragrance and the metaphysical characteristics of aroma.
I am skunk-like. I am like a Christmas skunk spraying its skunk juice all over the cookies.
I look like Santa – all red and white and festive. But I am a Santa who, after coming down your chimney with a bound, takes a shit in your living room and then mashes it into your living room carpet with his boot and guess what? Santa also just ate some sizzling steak fajitas on the night before Christmas and you wake up on Christmas morning with fajita shit in your carpet and an odorousness like nothing you have ever smelled before. That’s me. But on a cookie tray.
As soon as any of those cookies came near me they were contaminated. “But I learned my lesson last year and put the gingerbread men on the other side of the tray.” you say? Or here’s one: “I’ve lined the tray with waxed paper to segregate the cookies and their respective scents.” Your naivete is refreshing (though not nearly as refreshing as a mouthful of my minty slag) but none of your rudimentary domestic stratagems can stop me. And I loathe your whimpering by the way. No matter what you do, those coconut macaroons are going to taste like peppermint dogshit. Despite your best efforts, those holiday toffee bars are going to taste like they’ve just been plucked from the Mentha piperita balsamea tree from which peppermint is harvested and then shat upon by the donkey pulling the wagon carrying that harvest to market. And guess what else? Janet’s peanut butter buckeyes are going to taste like sliced human sphincter. Because that’s what peanut butter and mint taste like when you mix them together. Sliced human sphincter.
You know how in movies about apocalyptic disease outbreaks and there is that one scene where an infected person who doesn’t know he or she is infected sneezes and you can see the apocalyptic virus emanating from the sneeze and infecting others? That’s me. But I’m a cookie. With an apocalyptic virus about to infect all the other cookies.
I insinuate myself into everything. Like an aggressive navel-gazing narcissistic co-worker who joins your conversations about Game of Thrones every Monday and contributes nothing. Or that frenemy who is always making passive aggressive comments about how your current significant other reminds her of your ex-husband and you want to get rid of her but she was your roommate in college and also you feel bad for her because she will probably be single forever so you keep inviting her to things. Or that friend from third grade who comments on every single one of your Facebook posts. But I’m a cookie.
I am a little cookie with a big toxic motherfucking minty aura. Look at me. Breathe in my essence. Taste me. Whether you want to or not.
Gary M. Almeter is an attorney who lives in a quaint and cozy neighborhood in Baltimore, MD with his wife, three children and beagle. His short stories, essays and humor pieces have appeared in McSweeney’s, Writer’s Bone, the Good Men Project, 1966, and Splitsider. He is the recipient of the Maryland Writer’s Association’s 2015 Creative Nonfiction Award. His first book “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” will be published in March 2019.