Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just cover it all with gravy.

Thanksgiving is a strange phenomenon. Oh, but I do enjoy it, a lot.

It's a secular, American (and Canadian) event, so it's a bit off the world's radar. It's all about food; no cards, no gifts, no putting your screaming two-year-old on the Turkey's lap for some keepsake photos.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving's featured brown food items are absolutely the finest combination of flavors to grace grandma's dusty china. Ever since my childhood, I've only swum in a sea of Thanksgiving brownness. Turkey? Of course. Mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing? Another scoop, please. Green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes? No thanks, but I'll take a roll.

Of course, opting for these foods as a child validated the phrase, "You are what you eat." As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was a bit too short for my weight, and when it came to this particular holiday, I became a little self-conscious when convening with folks I only saw once a year. I'm sure many of us remember walking into a house full of friends and relatives, who would size us up the second they laid eyes on our one-year-older stature.

My family loyally attended the yearly feast at my Aunt Lilas' house. I loved entering her warm kitchen, the aromas of all the brown food sprinting to embrace my olfactory senses. There, waiting in the living room, were my cousins, aunts, uncles, and this guy who I'll call "Rusty." He was always the first to assess my corpulence, with such phrases as "I guess you're a little on the fat side, huh?"

Rusty really had no room to talk. He was one of those guys who had to make a decision about where his pants' waistline would fall.

He had to choose between:
1) Belted, above the stomach, with most of the belly encased within the trousers' crotch area, or
2) Belted, below the gut, thereby necessitating a smaller waist area, but with the entire stomach sagging over the pants, with the shirt straining to remain tucked in.
He chose option 1).

I tried not to let Rusty's comments hurt my feelings, and it certainly didn't curb my appetite for that awesome, brown, Thanksgiving fare, except for one year. My grandpa had just had a heart attack, so my aunt decided to provide a healthier spread. The brown stuff disappeared, except for the turkey and the pumpkin tartlettes. Yes, tartlettes. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I celebrated silently the following year when the traditional stuff returned.

And the day would have been a lot less stressful had my sister and I not been required to say grace. I always knew it was coming, so after deflecting whatever comment Rusty had to serve up, I dreaded that the prayer would follow shortly thereafter. I'm sure Donny and Marie performed for their relatives all the time, but I would have preferred just telling everyone that my sister and I had already belted out, "God is great, Good is good..." on the way over in the car. In other words, we had pre-prayed.

Oh, well. Happy Thanksgiving, and embrace your inner brownness.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My heroes

Life is fragile.

I frequently lose sight of this tenet.

I sleepwalk through my mundane routines, trying to attain maximum efficiency with minimum emotional strain or effort, and often become obsessed with nagging, unimportant concerns:
- Did I leave the heat on when I left the house?
- Is my parked car going to roll down this hill because I didn't face the wheels toward the curb?
- Did I forget to wash the reds on the "cold" setting?
- I really need to mow the lawn and get the oil changed and replace that light and buy some cat food and...

And, naturally, my obsessions transfer over to my kids, especially my fourteen-year-old:
- Why can't she remember her house key?
- Can't she just once remember to restock the soda when she takes the last one?
- She has a dresser for a reason. The clothes basket is not a furniture item.
- Her bedroom light isn't a star which only gets turned off at the red dwarf stage.

Yesterday, I was liberated from such thoughts. My older daughter developed a medical issue, which seemed fairly routine initially, but then became much more of a concern when her doctor couldn't diagnose the problem and sent us to the hospital for some tests.

It was a day of worry and uncertainty, but it was only a day. Everything turned out okay.

At that juncture, I was left to ponder where parents find that strength when faced with their children's life-threatening and  -altering events. A couple of weeks ago, I drove by Children's Hospital in Seattle, and just watching cars enter and exit the facility nearly made me well up. The word, "hero," gets tossed about with impunity; it's especially overused in the athletic arena, but to me, those sick kids and their parents are heroes.

After yesterday's reality check, I resolved to not let the little stuff matter as much. For example, when the fourteen-year-old gazes up at a flock of migrating birds, and says, "Wow, there must be a lot of birds in the South. Oh, I guess there's a lot of South, too," I won't give her that "Did you really just say that?" look. When she flips a coin and says, "Dad, call it. Heads or...or...opposite of heads," I won't roll my eyes.

I'm just really glad she's okay.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Full-immersion training in the fourth grade culture

I took the day off work today to perform every parent's civic duty—I accompanied a gaggle of fourth graders on a day-long field trip to the Pacific Science Center.

I consider myself quite familiar with one particular fourth grader, but we're talking about an entire grade four culture here, a synergy not present within the confines of the home. As I entered Room 21, I immersed myself in the sensory stimuli: the smell of chalk, disinfectant and Eau de Nine-Year-old; the economy of space, with every square inch occupied by artwork or bulletin board exhibits or well-hacked computer keyboards; the chair and desk legs, which wore sound-absorbing tennis ball slippers.

As the kids got themselves organized for the day, the teacher walked over to me and explained that, since many of the students had never been to the Science Center, they believed it would be boring. She pointed out that "boring" to a nine-year-old encompasses anything they don't yet know or understand. "Now that make sense," I thought. "I think she might know a little something about this strange culture."

The teacher quickly took the attendance, and then asked the kids if they had any questions about what they'd be doing.
"Can we go to the French bakery for our next field trip?" asked someone named Katie. "Because we went there on Saturday, and it's really good."
"That's not on our schedule for this year," the instructor replied. I could have sworn her lips said, "Hah, what a ridiculous question. Hell, no," just prior to her seasoned-teacher answer.

We filed out of the room and lined up for the "chartered" school bus. I noted that a glaring trait common to this odd nine-year-old culture is an inability to keep their hands off of each other. The boys head locked, punched, slapped and rammed into each other. The girls picked each other up, hugged and put each other down.

After we boarded the bus and took our seats, the driver stood and forcefully asked for everyone's undivided attention. He laid out the basic rules—no standing up in case of sudden braking, keep your voices to a reasonable volume, pay attention to the emergency exits. And then, he spelled out the last directive as follows:
"Parents, teachers and staff, please notice that the bus is equipped with a hand-controlled air brake right here next to me. Please don't hesitate to use it if I pass out or something. Okay, let's have a good time."
Pass out or something? Or something? A dull murmur arose among the crowd of children and adults, but it didn't take long for the kid faction to notice something shiny and move on. We adults chewed on the driver's disquieting statement for a while, but eventually we too began to "have a good time."

We arrived at the Pacific Science Center uneventfully—meaning, no major medical event for our chauffeur. I was assigned a group of four girls, including my daughter, and we embarked on our own journey of discovery through an animation exhibit and an amazing art display by a man named Chris Jordan , who uses tiny, photographic imagery to create large art pieces critiquing American consumerism. The kids and I spent a lot of time scrutinizing his work, and left the exhibit feeling moved.

Over the course of the day, I gained quite an appreciation for:
-the intelligence and insight of fourth graders.
-the dedication (and insight) of teachers.
-the fact that "or something" never happened while going fifty miles per hour over the Alaskan Way Viaduct in a school bus.

And since tomorrow is Saturday, its time for a little field trip to the French bakery.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inquiring minds

It's completely my fault. I never should have let her pick it up.
It sat harmlessly, face down on my friend's coffee table. It caught her eye—possibly the glimmery sheen of the paper stock, or maybe the colors which had been carefully calculated to grab the consumer's attention.
But she picked it up...her first tabloid magazine.
I didn't think much about it at first, but after about seven minutes, the questions began emanating from her nine-year-old mouth:
-"Dad, did you know that Jennifer Anniston is going to get back together with Brad Pitt, who only has a month to live, so she can have the baby she's desperately wanted for years?"
-"Dad, did you know that Tom Cruise is eighteen years older than Katie Holmes, but that doesn't matter, because he's reached a level of immortality through his religion that can only be found through communicating with volcanoes and contributing seven-figure sums to his 'church'?" (Okay, I made that one up.)
-"Dad, Reese Witherspoon is finally happy, and thinner than ever. Do you think she has anything to do with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?"
-"Dad, did you know that Bill Clinton has been secretly divorced from Hillary for twelve years, and he's been living sinfully with a former Arena Football League cheerleader, who used to be an Arena Football player?" (Okay, I also fabricated this one).
My point is—she can't get enough of this stuff now, and if it's in print, it's gospel. We used to grab a pack of gum at the "impulse buy" area by the grocery checkout, but now she begs for The Star, or Us or the National Enquirer with a ferocity that betrays any embarrassment accompanying such a request.
Beach photos of Oprah? Got to see 'em. Images showing Osama bin Laden working in the men's hosiery department of the Yakima, Washington, JC Penny? What a scoop!
I've tried telling her that this stuff is all created to sell magazines, that the more unbelievable the subject matter is, the more the people love it. She merely shrugs it off with something like, "Dad, if it weren't true, why would Safeway sell it to us?"
Touché. But then again, how true is that pudding that doesn't need to be refrigerated?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick puppies, part III

Today, a parental first: A day of nursing duty for not one, but two, sick children.
The drama began Sunday morning. As I slowly, ever so slowly, gained consciousness after about ten hours of awesome slumber, my fourteen-year-old daughter's bedroom door slammed open. An unnatural,  guttural barking noise followed, trailed closely by the din of water cascading onto the oak floors of the hallway.
Since my nine-year-old plays the role of Action News reporter for anything happening around the household, she quickly bellowed out, "(This just in!) Dad, Zoe's puking! Dad, Zoe's puking!)."
The reporter afforded me absolutely no time to reply, given the frequency of her Paul Revere-like updates. I rushed out to the hallway to witness Zoe expelling the contents of her being in terrible, shaking throes. I wasn't sure whether to approach her and gently rub her back, or provide her the space to maintain a bit of dignity. She hunched over a mere four feet from the bathroom, but it may as well have been a mile away, as this single plot of the hallway had already been established as grocery-gargling ground zero.
Lauryn stood just out of sight, around the corner, much like a gazelle gazing on with curiosity as one of the weaker herd members gets mauled by pack of hyenas.
Finally, the onslaught subsided, and she staggered over to the couch, collapsing into a heap of pale exhaustion. I felt terrible for her, as any parent would, but that didn't stop me from sprinting to the basement for the "barf bowl," a huge, stainless steel industrial bowl, which, if necessary, is capable of containing the unfortunate by-product of an entire fraternity's initiation celebration.
The remainder of Sunday went as might be expected—with the rest of us attempting to gauge Zoe's body language and breathing in order to predict future expulsions. She really didn't need our help, as she became quite attuned to the warning signs, but that didn't seem to detour us from "(insert echo) Vomit Watch, Two-Thousand Nine, nine, nine)."
And then, of course, just before bedtime, her younger sister began coughing and took on a flushed, feverish appearance. She professed to having chills and hot flashes, and rather than diagnose her with the world's youngest case of menopause, or maybe just an attention-grabbing ploy, I steered the well-used thermometer in her direction.
101-degrees later, the Tim Bed-and-Breakfast was open for business, with free saltines for kids under fifteen.
These two kids have each had both H1N1 and regular flu vaccines, but obviously, influenza wears more outfits than Barry Manilow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I think I broke my hipster

At the risk of sounding really old and really stodgy, I need to vent a little bit about...well...stuff we say. To be more specific, as of late, I've really noticed how we adults pick up on what the kids are saying—but usually not until the kids have stopped saying it at least six months previous.

Here are a few examples of what I've heard, or overheard, people over thirty, blurting out:

1) Approximately 32-year-old woman on the bus, talking on her phone: "Dude, that sunset is hella sick."
Analysis: Why are you describing the sunset in medical terms? Well, I guess it really was a beautiful sunset, maybe even so sick it was feverish.

2) Approximately 39-year-old guy bumping into another guy on the bus: "Sorry, man. My bad."
Analysis: This is another example of grammatical evolution, where adjectives, crawling along for millenia as subordinate modifiers,  learn to stand on their own as nouns.

3) Approximately 41-year-old guy, who was bumped into by hipster mentioned in item 2) above: "It's all good."
Analysis: It's never all good. If it were, we all would have been riding unicorns instead of public  transportation.

4) Approximately 35-year-old woman, agreeing with something her seat-mate on the bus pointed out:
"I know, right?"
Analysis: Completely nonsensical. It's sort of like saying, "I agree. Asparagus?"

And we don't just ride the caboose of what the kids say, it's also how they look. Back in the early Nineties, I decided to stop getting my hair cut; not even a trim. I grew it out between July of 1992 and May of 1996. By mid-1994, I was a sensitive, ponytail-sporting, John-Lennon-glasses-wearing, Seattle grungester. Little did I know that grunge music and long hair had been dead for a couple of years, and that the kids were now waxing their mopeds with their old flannel clothing.
I still remember looking in the mirror that early May, 1996 morning, and thinking, "Snap! I look hella ridiculous. I really wish one of my filthy posse would have given me the 411 on this whack do."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another post about kids

Reasons I'm glad I have kids:

1) Because when the younger daughter witnessed a commercial for two-for-one suits at Men's Wearhouse, she said, "If it were me, I'd get one suit that fits me now, and a way bigger one for when I'm old and fat."

2) Because it gives me a reason to buy cheese goldfish, juice boxes, Pop Tarts and Harry Potter movies, and visit Santa Claus.

3) Because it's toughened me up after receiving inadvertent head butts to a certain part of my anatomy over six hundred times. What would begin as an enthusiastic hug from a toddler, ended up with that toddler gazing down at a grown man in the fetal position.

4) Because I still occasionally marvel at being called, "Dad."

5) Because prior to having children, I hadn't yet become an award winning travel agent, specializing in guilt trips.

6) Because the younger one aspires to be a bartender. And no, I did not suggest that career choice.

7) Because the older one has taught me patience, calmness and the benefits of obsessive compulsiveness in sporting endeavors.

8) Because we need someone to water the plants when my wife and I go back to St. Thomas in 2020.

9) Because my kids exposed the injustice when High School Musical III didn't beat out Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture.

10) Because I see a little bit of my mom in each of them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

At least now, I get shots in the arm instead of the other place

I'm not sure if anything showcases human nature quite like a long queue of homo sapiens on a cold, November morning. When mixed with a healthy serving of paranoia and perceived shortages, things can get interesting.
Such was the case this morning, as I fired up the Ford Ranger for the sixteen-mile trip to Katterman's Pharmacy in Seattle's Sand Point neighborhood. I've been in hot pursuit of the H1N1 vaccine for the past month, as I'm sure a lot of us have, after doing some research about this nasty invader. Apparently, having had fairly bad asthma since I was a chubby, little kid, I'm at risk of developing pneumonia if this thing seeps into me.
The county health department website displayed this particular pharmacy as having a limited number of dosages today and tomorrow, so I departed the house this morning at 6:00 to give myself plenty of time to stand in line for the store's 9:00 opening.
I arrived to discover about 100 people snaking down the sidewalk from the drugstore's entrance. It looked like people were waiting to purchase playoff tickets; there were lawn chairs, sleeping bags, tons of coffee. I joined the line behind a tall, graying man, who appeared deep in conversation with his neighbor. Only later would I find out that he talked to anyone within a four-person radius, and upon further examination, he had something which had traveled from the confines of his sinuses and lodged itself directly under his left nostril. It was like an escaped prisoner who made it to the peripheral razor wire and inexplicably stopped. From that point on, in spite of myself, I was strangely drawn to this man's nose area.
After about an hour, I wasn't able to see the end of the line, as it extended down the street and around the block. Occasionally, a newcomer would walk down our gauntlet and I could decipher a faint, "Oh, my Gawwd!" as they disappeared into the masses.
"Is this the line?" I heard one guy ask. I probably should have checked to see if he was blind before muttering, "No, actually, it's a celebration called 'Hands Across Seattle.' Want to play?"
After two hours, the line started chugging along. Another hour later, I held in my sweaty palm a time slot and receipt for the magical elixir that would battle this virulent, pork-based plague. The shot itself was rather anticlimactic, and I got out of there in about three minutes with a Band-Aid and butterscotch lolly pop. 
No riots, no arguments...just a guy who desperately needed his wife there to tell him to wipe his nose.

By the way, this is blog post number 50. Thanks for listening to my curmudgeonly ramblings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

We, we

Last night, the family and I rekindled one of our longest-standing traditions. We dined at an establishment known as The Old Spaghetti Factory, an icon in the Pacific Northwest. Before Cheesecake Factory began deforesting the old growth tree stands just to print their menus, long before Olive Garden introduced the bottomless iceberg lettuce bowl, The Old Spaghetti Factory stood proudly as the bastion of affordable, massive food quantities.
I've been a father now for almost fifteen years, which translates to 23.7 wear-and tear-adjusted years (much like wind chill makes the temperature colder than the thermometer indicates). During this period, we have visited The Old Spaghetti Factory approximately 90 times. Not only have we gone on the kids' birthdays, we've gone on their "half" birthdays as well. In addition, I've used it as an incentive for them to get along and leave for school on time. A few years back, they earned dinner there after getting out of the house in a timely manner 20 days in a row. I know, I know. Parents shouldn't use food as an incentive for good behavior. Whatever. If it worked for Pavlov, it works for me.
The family and I operate with a fine-tuned efficiency at this place,  never waffling at the last minute when faced with the final pasta decision. Last night we were thrown a little off balance by the waiter, as everything he asked us included the word, "we":
"How are we doing tonight?"
"Do we know what we want to order?"
"Do we want another Shirley Temple?"
It got really irritating after a while. This guy was really tall and masculine, but he talked like someone's grandma. Being a family of wise-guys, we all had to bite our tongues when responding to him. I really wanted to ask him when he would be available to go to the restroom with me.
Aside from that, the evening, as usual, proceeded like clockwork. Bread, salad, spaghetti, Spumoni ice cream, and out the door.
I think when we reach the century mark of eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory, we'll celebrate by going there.

Friday, November 6, 2009

One of these days, it's not even going to stop for us

I've been riding the bus to work from the stop near my house this past week. It just so happens that my fourteen-year-old catches her school bus at a location very near mine. Yesterday morning, I offered to walk with her to her stop, and we could hang out until her ride pulled up.
"Uh, that's okay, dad."
"But, you know, we haven't really seen each other much lately. This could be a nice time to catch up."
"No, really, that's all right. I just stand there and listen to my iPod, anyway."
"Okay, how about this, then." I consider myself really flexible. "How about we just hold hands quietly while you listen to your iPod?"
"Ha, ha." Then she left the house.
Alas, shut out by my daughter yet again. I navigated the lonely jaunt down to my bus stop in silence. Fortunately, Wild Kingdom, the Human Edition, ensued just a few feet from me. About five middle-school-aged boys stood waiting for their bus to show up. Actually, they weren't standing, they were trying to stomp each other's feet, forming a sort of clunky, adolescent River Dance. Naturally, nobody wore a sweatshirt, let alone a jacket—just t-shirts and jeans. These guys all had longish hair which covered about 65% of their cherubic faces. I'm fairly certain they had eyes and even eyebrows, but none were evident.
Again, my mind wandered back to the bus my sister and I used to catch in our neighborhood during junior high. The kids looked and acted like they currently do, except I don't think as many of today's thirteen-year-olds suck down a couple of Marlboros while waiting for the yellow chariot, like they did in my day. Usually, someone had a huge bag of Doritos or Barbecued Lays to share, which the smokers welcomed, since they now could mask their tobacco breath with nachoey, cheesy, tobacco breath.
Finally, we would pile into the bus, the bus driver already wary of what the next twenty minutes may hold. Some days were completely mellow the entire trip. The driver would play the Top 40 station, and I can remember some of the girls singing along with "Feelings" (I'm not kidding.).
Other days, chaos ensued. I hated riding anywhere near the back of the bus, because I had no desire to be associated with the kids who smoked or swore at the driver or yanked on the feathered haircut of an unsuspecting male victim (me). People would rise out of their seats as soon as the school was in sight and pile into the aisle. "Why?" I can remember thinking as I shoved my way into an opening. "What's the hurry? We're going to school." Nonetheless, this was a daily ritual.
As I snapped  back to the present, the yellow bus pulled up and the boys clumsily loaded themselves on. "I hope you guys don't make problems for the driver," I thought. "And somebody should've picked up that empty Doritos bag."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I approve this message

The decomposing campaign signs will choke the roadsides for another six months or so, but the fall election season, with a few new twists and the absence of some traditional rites, is finally in the books .
Oh sure, I'm sure we've all grown used to those slanted, nasty TV commercials:
-"Ed Jawngrobber is the wrong choice for your next Assistant Port Commissioner. He personally voted to raise taxes on wheelchairs, seeing-eye dogs and matches sold by orphans. He insisted on being the pitcher on his daughter's t-ball team. He enjoys hotdogs made with real puppies. And he never, ever, puts down the toilet seat." Throughout this montage, Mr. Jawngrobber is shown in grainy, black and white imagery, probably scowling at someone and not wearing a shirt.
Suddenly, the clouds part and the spotlight turns to Ed's opponent, the obvious choice:
-"Dirk Rockmeyer is who we need for Assistant Port Commissioner. As a third grader, he piloted a program for pulling elderly, disabled, World War II veterans through the snow on specially heated sleds to dialysis appointments. His finger is on the pulse of small business, as the founder of the I Can't Believe It's Dental Floss Bread Company. And... he's really, really good looking." Cut to a warm color image of Dirk and family out in the backyard playing Frisbee golf. Mr. Rockmeyer pauses, Frisbee in hand, faces the camera and says, "I'm Dirk Rockmeyer. I love you, I'll protect you, and I approved this message."
We're all used to these cheesy campaign messages, but now they're invading our phone lines with those "robo-calls." How annoying are those? The "do not call list" provided a brief respite from solicitors, but it didn't take long before our answering machines became clogged with personal messages from Michelle Obama, John McCain and the people who are afraid that eventually humans will marry shetland ponies if we don't act now.
Conversely, one of the campaign season's richest traditions, casting your ballot at your local precinct, is now extinct in Washington state; it's mail-in voting only. No more elderly volunteers putting down their bowl of chicken and rice casserole, lowering their faces to an inch above the portable table and scouring the alphabetical list. No more rushing to a stuffy, hot church basement to pull the curtain and punch the card.
If given the choice, I'd take the church basement any day over the robo-calls. I'd even welcome that wonderful, old volunteer guy spitting casserole rice on my chest after handing me my ballot and uttering, "Pick a pole booth, Tim."

Monday, November 2, 2009

That house looks promising

5:38PM, Saturday, October 31.
"Dad, can we leave now?"
"Not yet, Lauryn. It's still too light outside. In fact, here's the new rule for when to leave: If you still see the mailman driving around, it's too early."
I'm sure we all remember that feeling, that wired, ready-to-jump-out-of-your-skin excitement as you wait endlessly for your stodgy old dad to give the go-ahead.
This Halloween was no different. Lauryn and I have a tradition of trick-or-treating with some friends in their neighborhood. Our gang consists of a four-year-old boy, a nine-year-old boy, their dad, Lauryn and me.
We arrived at our friends' house fully prepared for the night. Since Lauryn's persona for the evening was that of a zombie princess, and since I've earned my makeup credentials painting faces at school carnivals, and since I drew the faces of every member of KISS  on every Pee-Chee I owned between 1975 and 1978, I felt fully qualified to be the hair and makeup boy for this character. After a quickly-applied white base, I painted on some Gene Simmons-inspired, black, spiky eyes and black lipstick. After slipping on a Gothic, scarlet gown, she looked like a groupie trying to decide between Stevie Nicks and Alice Cooper.
While waiting for dusk to fall, the other dad and I killed time with a couple of adult beverages until finally, the moment had arrived.
We methodically traversed each street, never backtracking, never sacrificing efficiency during these prime, golden hours. The four-year-old boy didn't, however, concern himself with energy conservation. He only ran or jogged. He sprinted past houses and back to them, up stairs and back down and back up. If I had that kind of stamina, I'd more closely resemble Iggy Pop than that singer in Blues Traveler.
Lauryn made a note of every living room at which she peered as the backdrop to each candy distributor.
"Dad, that house smells like old soup."
"Dad, her house was really messy."
"Dad, that guy was kind of creepy and his house smelled like hot dog water."
Living in West Seattle, there's always the chance that the kids will get something else in lieu of candy, like some salted wood chips, or a donation toward a spa visit for a needy Seattle dog. But in the end, they made a great haul. And if you ever get a chance, try the new Hershey's Pumpkin Pie Kiss—fantastic.