Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gift of Marshmallows

When the Chief Lou was in law school and the jBird was a baby, we lived in a charming old brick house in a neighborhood that was predominately students and really old people who hadn't yet died so their offspring could divide up their houses and rent them out to students. Our neighbors across the street were an ever-evolving group of guys who were really enjoying being out on their own.

I was new to staying at home full time with a baby, so I spent a lot of time watching their comings and goings through our picture window while I jiggled, patted, paced, burped and rocked my wee girl who never slept. She would smile out the window and I'd say "See the trees? See the squirrel? Look! There's a frat boy! There's his truck. Vroom! Vroom!"

We used to watch them haul out giant, fragrant laundry bags and pack them off for the weekend; returning with bags of groceries and folded clothes. We watched them cart in kegs and chairs and lots of plastic cups for assorted festivities. One of my personal favorites was watching them on the evenings of said festivities, sitting on their front porch, cups in one hand, cell phones in the other: "Are you coming? Are you bringing those girls you said you knew?" I would always cringe along with them and really hope that if those girls did show up, they would be treated kindly and with respect; but also kind of rooting for the boys, hoping their party didn't turn into a lame sausage fest. Most of the time their friends with the girls would come through and things would swing into full gear right about the time we headed to bed. We would lay there and listen to the drunken shouts and the music and laugh and hope the baby didn't wake up and feel smug and relieved that we weren't part of that whole scene any more.

One morning early - far too early for anyone across the street to have actually gotten up yet - I was in our little kitchen getting breakfast for myself (read: coffee) and nattering on to my jBird when I heard a bellowing across the street. There in the gray dawn, in all of his splendor, stood one of our neighbor friends. He was a big fellow, tall and broad and the beginnings of a beer gut. He may have played football for our little University, he had that look about him. But this morning, oh, this glorious morning! he stood in only his drawers and a viking helmet (not a Minnesota Vikings helmet, a Leif Erikson metal hat with horns) on the front porch, seemingly untouched by the chilly winter air. He took a swig of his beer, stretched and bellowed: "Waaaaaterrrrrrrrmeeeeeelllllllooonnnnnnnn!" Oh, the absolutely splendid absurdity of it! I ran and dragged the Chief Lou out of a much deserved sleep in and made him come watch with me. The Viking Giant conducted a complicated series of scratching activities, belched and took another swig: "Maaaaaarrrrrshmaaaaallllllooowwwwws!" We three in our little kitchen danced with delight and watched him continue his proceedings until he went back inside and we went back about the business of being "grownups".

I have no idea what prompted his Valkyrian multi-syllabic morning constitutional, nor do I know what ever became of our neighbor. Hopefully he went on to graduate from University and to further contribute to society. But I do know that no one in our house can say "marshmallow" without bellowing it. So today as the Hooligan (who reminds me of a frat boy rather more often than I'm entirely comfortable with) and I were making homemade marshmallows for Christmas goody bags, I wonder if our Viking Giant's ears were burning somewhere in the Midwest as my Hooligan and I bellowed above the whir of the mixer:



  1. Loved this. A few years back, I won a marshmallow shooter in a Family Feud trivia contest that friend held at her blog. I think that from now on, when I pelt the grand on their behinds with the flying sweet treats, I'm gonna bellow, "MMMMMAAAAARRRRRSHMMMMMAAAAALLLLOOOOOOWWWW!"

  2. HAHAHA!

    I sort of now have this picture of John Belushi in a viking helmet standing in front of the Delta Tau Chi House.

  3. @Word Nerd - That sounds like sooooo much fun.
    @Jane - You pretty much nailed it.

  4. Maybe a really weird version of Truth or Dare? And he took the Dare??? lol I always love the family memories that make you giggle/laugh :)

  5. Here are some more verification words...

  6. When I was eight, a neighbor girl (whose name I can't remember) tagged along on a family picnic and we told her we were going to roast marshmallows after we ate and she kept asking all afternoon when we were going to "marsh the mallows."

    That's been the thing that popped into my head every time I heard the word "marshmallow" for 35 years. Now, it'll have company.

    Thanks for the giggle. ;)

  7. My main neighborly noise are the huge megaphones for a "muffler" each on the little cars that live almost next door. They crank up at all different times of the night and day and night to scurry off somewhere disturbing me. Its like living IN a WWI airbase. The interesting part is that the guy works in a muffler shop.

  8. Whoa! hold on... you make homemade marshmallows??? Recipe please :)

    p.s. Cute story

  9. @Nadia - You caught that, did you? I just use Alton Brown's recipe from We used peppermint instead of vanilla extract and cut them out with Christmas shaped cookie cutters. We're giving little homemade s'mores kits to all of the important kids in our life, so next stop... graham crackers. We cut up the marshmallow scraps to put in hot cocoa or mocha for the adults.

  10. Hilarious! I just received the email that this post was would seem blogger's not very 'on the ball'. Also, you can make homemade marshmallows? I learned something new today.

  11. I’ve awarded you for your utter awesomeness (and for the chance that you might repay me with cookies). Just clickety-click to collect your goodies.

    You realize, of course, that by ‘goodies,’ I mean a pic that you totally could have swiped anyway and not felt any obligation to meet the demands that come with being an award winner, right? Yeah, I thought so.


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