It is, apparently, National Peanut Butter Day. In my adult life, I rarely find time for peanut butter (when it comes to nut butters, at this stage in the game I’m an almond fan all the way), but if you were to map out a food pyramid of my childhood, it would certainly make up its own substantial structural portion, likely falling somewhere in between Chef Boyardee and Lunchables. (We were big on processed foods in my house.)
There are, then, quite a few memories I could choose from in my ode to PB, but the one that stands out the most is the year (maybe more, maybe less…I’m not sure how accurate my concept of time was as a child) that I dreamed of running away and building my own log cabin, and subsisting entirely on Planters PB Crisps.
Now, this may require me to explain what in the fuck PB Crisps were, because they were only available for a brief blip during the mid-nineties. Basically, they were peanut-shaped graham cookies filled with a self-proclaimed “sweet peanut butter creme”. Ironically, I don’t actually remember ever eating these; maybe the allure was similar to nearly every fad breakfast cereal I saw advertised in commercials during Saturday cartoon blocks, aka had-to-have-it-but-was-ultimately-a-major-letdown-doomed-to-collect-dust-in-the-pantry-after-one-bite-among-the-graveyard-of-items-my-parents-resented-purchasing-for-good-reason.
And now that you have a better idea of what those were (or at least pretended to be), I can tell you about this elaborate daydream I had about setting out on my own at the ripe old age of five or six, not because home life was entirely unsatisfactory, but because I was simply too full of adventure for it. I’m not sure exactly when the planning phase started, though I would assume that reading The Boxcar Children in first grade likely struck my fancy in terms of its promotion of self-sufficient children. (“I can find my own cracked pink cup and live in an abandoned train, too, goddammit!” I probably thought, minus the “goddammit”.) And so however all of this began, I remember staring out the window during all car rides for a very long time and planning out the logistics of my new life as an independent human being. My house (which I would build with scrap wood, source TBD) would have a rocking chair and lots of lights, and I would stay up all night long and (as previously mentioned) live off an endless supply of PB Crisps (again, source TBD). It would be located in a corner of my front lawn, or possibly in the empty patch of land across the street, and while I would not entirely shun my family, I would no longer live by their uptight rules and regulations. It was about to be Megan time.
Except that it wasn’t. The closest I ever got to actually leaving home and embarking on my log cabin, PB Crisp-filled adventure was eventually packing up my red Care Bears suitcase in the middle of the night and standing in the hallway of our house with the bathroom light on, watching my parents’ TV flash various shades of blue against their wall while they slept, finally coming to the conclusion that “Wow, they are gonna be real mad if I go.” And so I went back in my room to bed and continued to lead a conventional and more or less codependent life for the next two decades or so.
I live alone now, but in an apartment in Brooklyn and not in a handmade log cabin on a Virginia lawn. There is also no rocking chair and the lighting is minimal, I don’t stay up all night long, and (seeing as it’s impossible, anyway) I don’t live on PB Crisps. I may, however, buy a jar of peanut butter later to quell my nostalgia, which has largely been building up as a result of writing this fairly pointless reflection on the role that a sandwich spread played in my life. In a sense, then, the marketing ploy has worked. Happy National Peanut Butter, and RIP to PB Crisps and my childhood.