Saturday, January 14, 2006

Strawberry

She held out the box to him. He knew it was a test.

Still he couldn’t help himself.
“Strawberry soft centre. Yum they’re my favourite.” He could feel his eyes bulging with anticipation.

“Why don’t you try a chewy caramel?” she said.

“Nope.” Eyes now closed. A shake of the head.

“How about a soft centre with a different flavour?” her voice was curvy.

“Nope, I want what I want and what I want is what I always want. I WANT the strawberry soft centre.” His face was turning strawberry now.

“Donald,” her voice was taut. “You know this just isn’t going to work.” She was thought of herself as a patient woman but this was too much. “How can we be taste testers if you won’t taste ANY FLAVOUR OTHER THAN STRAWBERRY?!”

She stood up and middle-buttoned her Laura Ashley jacket. Donald knew from the 3 months they had worked together that this was a bad sign.

She ran a carefully manicured fingertip along her left, beautifully shaped eyebrow. That was a very bad sign.

“I’m going to take my lunch break now, Donald,”

“Buu..”he tried to protest..

“Yes I know it’s only 10.30am, Don-ald.” He noted the ominous syllable emphasis and decided to be very still and quiet. That way he might just get to stay alive and also keep his job.

“ But I need a break now. And while I’m gone I suggest that you consider a change in your position on the strawberry creams. Otherwise I’m going to have to suggest to Mr Wilkins that we send you back to Dispatch Services.”

She picked up her cottage cheese and chive sandwich on wholemeal, turned on her enormously high heels and stalked out of the door.

Donald knew he was at a crossroads. It was called Cadburys. And it could make or break him.

His hands shook slightly. His blood sugar was dropping. With his fast metabolism he was destined to be a taste tester.

He tapped his wash-board stomach. Three weetabix for breakfast less than 2 hours ago and he was ready for a sugar boost already.

‘I’m a taste testing MACHINE’ he thought.

He was pleased with the way he kind of roared the word ‘machine’ in his head. He wondered if it would work aloud. ‘Probably not the best time to practise roaring…’ He tried to focus on the matter at hand. Keeping his job.

It was the best job he’d ever had and he was really good at it. He loved telling people at parties what he did. Actually he never went to parties, but he liked imagining telling people at parties what he did, “I’m a freelance taste tester…. Licensed to taste.” He had a whole speech worked out; “I prefer it shaken or stirred….or on a cocktail stick.” It was certainly more interesting than working with parcels in Dispatch. And he got to wear a suit.

But not if he couldn’t get past the strawberry cream. He eyed her up with her lovely round shape and little chocolatey dimples on top.

“You fox,” he said to the strawberry cream. He chewed his lip. “No, I mustn’t eat you.”
He shut the lid of the chocolate box. Picking up the description of the chocolates he turned his back on the strawberry blonde and tried to concentrate on the brunettes and blondes.

“Mmm, let’s see…a Coffee Cream…or a White Chocolate Swirl…I can do this.” He licked his lips nervously. He searched around for his normally ravenous appetite. “Come on don’t let me down now, baby…”

But it was disappearing rapidly. He just didn’t fancy any chocolate. Except for the strawberry cream of course.

He sighed. ‘This never happens with potatoes’ He thought back to the heady days of taste testing for Spuds R Us. Chipped, crisped, croquetted, baked…he could eat the potato in any form.

Yum just the thought of potatoes caused a rumbling, maybe even a slight hunger pang. Ah, that was more like it. The dilemma now was how to make himself hungry for something that he wasn’t hungry for.

“Make myself hungry…” he started to chew his fingernail as he pondered this. Then stopped as he remembered the first rule of taste testing.

Only focused chewing is allowed.

“ I am a professional and I can do this,” he said outloud using his most confident, un-him like voice. “How hard can it be to get hungry for something…. I don’t want to eat” he tailed off.

He took the caramel square between first finger and thumb and scrutinized it.

He appealed to his rational mind:
“This is a perfectly nice chocolate that millions of people would be delighted to eat, were they in my place right now.”
“And millions of people would love to have my job,”
“I have a great job. And this is a great chocolate. I will really enjoy eating this caramel square..”

“Yes Donald that’s right!” His colleague had slipped back into the room partway through his speech and was delighted to hear him speaking like a rational human being again. He was talking to himself, which wasn't good, but he was actually touching a caramel square. This was progress indeed.

“So Donald?” she asked in her headmistress voice, “You’re going to try a new flavour are you?”

He nodded.

“So I don’t need to report you to Mr Wilkins, then?”

He shook his head.

“And you’re going to be very mature and professional when it comes to taste testing the rest of this layer?”

More nodding.

“And you won’t spit out the Turkish Delight?”

More shaking of the head.

She smiled, revealing teeth kept immaculately white despite all the foodstaining hazards of the profession. She opened the lid and handed him the box of chocolates.

‘This is it,’ he thought, ‘this is what it feels like to be a rational human being who can overcome strong personal preferences in favour of trying something against his every natural inclination…’

He smoothed down his jacket, took a deep, mature breath and looked her confidently in the eye.

Then he grabbed the strawberry cream and ran for his life.

He turned as he reached the door, “Sorry but you can’t make me want any of the others when I already know, “ his face broke into the most enormous smile, “She’s the only one for me! And I’m not going to apologise for it.”

And with that, he was gone.

3 Comments:

Blogger s@bd said...

i'm going to read into this one and imagine that it's for me (being a sort-of strawberry blond and all) and i'm going to make christian read it too.

And now I wish I were a famous publishing company so I could publish a book of your short stories.
Alas, I am not.

mwa!

5:35 AM  
Blogger The Fabulist said...

I'm sure no-one can part C from his strawberry cream.

(and if anyone ever dared trying to tempt Christian with a caramel square....there's a whole blogging community here who will leapt to your rescue with very acerbic comments. And a baseball bat)

xx

9:27 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

That was hilarious! Perfect ending. I would have been really dissapointed had he caved and choked down the carmel candy. Carmel is nasty anyway...everyone knows that!

7:55 AM  

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