From "Senior Living"
Remember those tiny, little coke bottles they used to have. That was before the plastic one, two or three “liter” bottles. No one will ever convince me sodas didn’t taste better in those little bottles.
One very hot August when I was a pre-teen, one of my dad’s good friends died from cancer. We didn’t know a lot about cancer at that time and I remember my parents not wanting us children to be around him because we might catch it. Part of this fear could have been a result of my having polio at 22 months of age. As well as I remember, Daddy’s friend didn’t last long after his diagnosis. He was probably in his 40’s like my parents and left young children. It was a very sad time. I don’t remember where in the country he was buried, but it was definitely in the country. The church had no air conditioning, nor did we at home, but did supply “funeral home fans.” For those of you who have never heard of those, they are thick paper with advertisements or pictures on them and thin wood handles. I still have a small collection of them. Some of them are quite attractive, but none as attractive as those at this particular funeral. I have no idea what they looked like, just know I was glad they were there. I remember the windows in the church being open but no breeze stirring. All we had was the paper fans and they did little more than move the blistering hot August air around. That was small comfort, but the only comfort to be afforded. Never was there a longer funeral, or so it seemed. The preacher understood his duty to share with us God’s word and urge us to be ready should we be called to an untimely death. The heat in the church was said to be no comparison to a death without Christ. That was something else that stuck with me after the funeral.
We were all dressed up in our Sunday clothes. It didn’t matter that it was so hot. No one went to church or funerals in less than their best. It just wasn’t done. I have a friend who says, “If you don’t get dressed up to go to church or funerals, when do you get dressed up? God deserves our best.” That used to be the standard. So, we were dressed up just like everyone else and that much more miserable. I can remember so vividly the sun shining through the open windows and illuminating the dust filled air. I am reminded of this each time I see dust in sunbeams. We were so itchy in our Sunday clothes sitting on those old, wooden pews worn smooth from years squirming children. The adults must have possessed something special to sit so still and pay attention. They were no doubt as miserable as we children were, but they just fanned on quietly through the whole thing.
After the funeral was over we moved to the grave in the adjoining church cemetery. The only thing hotter than being in the church was standing in the sun in the cemetery. We didn’t complain, of course, as children would today. We knew better. When the ceremonies were complete, Daddy took us across the street to a little roadside store. He bought each of us our own soda in the little bottles. They were in an old, metal cooler filled with ice: never before or since has anything been so cold or tasted so good. Sodas were not something we were privileged to enjoy on a regular basis so they would have been delicious in any case. Being so hot and miserable just made it an over the top experience. Daddy turned his up and emptied it in one breath! We were impressed. It had ice crystals in it and as thirsty and hot as we were, we just couldn’t swallow it all at once. We wanted to make it last as it was such a rare treat.
Another treat that was always better in little bottles was grape juice. When we were really sick, and Mother could always tell, she would go to the store and buy grape juice in little bottles. Oh, how wonderful it was, especially if you had a fever. Just the sight of the bottles made us start feeling better. I remember waiting for them to get cold and then listening for the bottle opener to pop the top off. She always let us drink from the bottle and the cold felt so good in our feverish little hands. The only other time we had grape juice was when she could afford to buy a bigger bottle. It just wasn’t the same.
I will always contend that little bottles make things taste better. Coca Cola, grape juice, Dr. Pepper, and orange juice for example. My husband tells me there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. I don’t know the name of it as he has a hard time just getting me to listen. I don’t want my memories explained scientifically. However, I guess I should mention his idea as I’m sure he is right as usual. The first few bites or swallows of any food or drink always taste better than subsequent samplings. Once our taste buds have gotten used to any substance, they don’t react in the same way. We really should stop consumption as soon as that first thrill is gone. That is why wealthy people and royalty across the ages had kitchens away from the main house. They didn’t want the smell of the food cooking to spoil their initial pleasure of tasting. It is also why gourmet meals are usually served in minute quantity with several courses. I’ve always said that those small portions are only big enough to make me mad.
Intellectually, I’m sure my husband is right. The quality of the product is the same in big bottles as in the little ones. The taste buds just don’t have time to get used to it. The child in me still prefers to remember little bottles containing big treats.
March 14, 2005
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