Popsicle Toes

I've got a new drug. One that won't make me sick. One that don't come in a pill. One that comes on a stick. Bernie and Bettina are to be blamed for this one. Bettina is my roommate and she orders the goods. Bernie is the driver and he delivers the contraband. The slang terms for my summertime medication are snow, ice or crystal, more commonly known on the street as: the Popsicle.

Last month Bettina stumbled across the ultimate food delivery service. She calls it Schwan's, but I refer to them as my dealer. If you're not familiar with Schwan's, imagine what Smith's or Albertson's would look like if you jacked up their grocery store, put it on wheels and then hired a driver with charisma cooler than the sum degree of liquid nitrogen and absolute zero to deliver the merchandise.

From chicken cordon bleu to red, white and blue rocket pops, if it can be frozen then Schwan's delivery man, Bernie, will bring it to your door. Now Bernie is one cool cat and he's not above telling you just that. The first week he made a delivery to our house, he prattled off a poem implying he was the man with the year-round tan delivering the groceries like nobody can. Then he stuck out his hand as he beamed a devilish smile glinting with gold teeth that seemed to say, "Now you're mine."

When Bernie brought Bettina's order into our home all I could think was "I hope there's still room in the ice box for ice cubes." Then I saw there was one more box Bernie was trying to fit into the freezer. The box said, "Rocket Pops." With a steady hand and extreme self-control I wrote out the check as every ounce of my inner-child energy was boiling inside my body screaming, "Rip open the gosh darn box." (My inner-child doesn't swear).

As soon as Bernie left, I popped open the freezer door, ripped the rocket pops from their frozen landing pad and began two fisting the patriotic Popsicles. In one hand I started from the base of the pop and started sucking down the iced blue raspberry flavor. The other rocket pop exploded in my mouth with bursts of cherry, and when I reached the center of each sicle my taste buds were bathed in the cool flavor of lime. God bless America.

By the time Bettina came home from work there were 12 stripped bare rocket pop sticks and I was screaming "Call Cape Canaveral, call Houston, call NASA, call anyone, just get me some more God damn rocket pops." Jacobsen, we have a problem. Bernie the Schwan's man only makes deliveries every other Wednesday. In two weeks there will be another rocket pop bender, until then you're on your own. Find another dealer.

This is how I became a junky Jonesing for the juices of a Popsicle. Searching every mom and pop grocery joint for lime, raspberry and cherry flavors. I learned quick that Popsicles that come with two sticks were trouble. Far inferior to the single-stick-rocket-pop-like Popsicle. Trying to suck down a double stick inevitably meant I'd be wearing the track marks of orange, purple, green or red down my white shirt as the Popsicle would break apart and roll down my body. My wardrobe became a confectionery nightmare.

In the dependence of this drug I noticed my obsession for strolling through the parks looking for a dealer. Walking around avoiding eye contact until I heard the bells of the ice cream man. And then, hearing the jingle, I'd out run or trample over every little runt who stood in the way of my ice cream man.

Sucking down nutty buddies, fudgesicles and ice cream sandwiches simply haven't satisfied the addiction of the cherry, lime and blue raspberry Popsicle cravings. I wanted my mouth stained from red dye #4, my lips needed to look like a rainbow. Not to mention all the cream bars really seemed to exacerbate my lactose intolerant tummy.

Certainly if I spaced out the eating of the rocket pops there wouldn't be this sweet little three-staged withdrawal. My roommate suggested eating just one rocket pop a day. Moderation is what she called it. I called her an idiot. A dozen rocket pops is obviously not a 12-Step program.

If there's any solace to this addiction it's that the Old Man Winter solstice is just 24 dozen Popsicle boxes away. And then, what am I going to do? Get addicted to something else, like hot coffee?

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