|Snicker. The blog is named after him.|
by Valerie L. Egar
Nicole liked blueberry pies, lemon tarts, cream puffs, coconut cake, banana pudding, oatmeal cookies, pistachio ice cream, even rhubarb cobbler, but not chocolate. Not chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, or chocolate ice cream. If it was chocolate, it wasn't for Nicole.
"You're weird," said her brother, Seth. "You're probably a space alien."
None of her school friends understood, either. When her class celebrated birthdays, parents always brought chocolate cupcakes. Nicole gave hers to Charles. Even though he was happy to have it, he always said, "There's something wrong with you. Everybody likes chocolate."
No one understood she was never going to like chocolate any more than she liked Brussels sprouts. Nicole was tired of people acting as though it was the strangest thing they'd ever heard. Even adults who were happy when children didn't eat too many sweets, urged her to eat chocolate. "You'll like my brownies," they might say, or, "Just taste my chocolate pie." Some days, Nicole worried there might be something wrong with her.
One Saturday in June, Nicole noticed a moving van at the house across the street. She peeked out the window, hoping to see the people who were moving in. More than anything, Nicole hoped the family would have a girl her age. When a green car pulled up to the curb, Nicole was thrilled to see a girl her height jump out of the car.
Nicole and Lynette became fast friends. School was out for summer and they spent their days together. In the morning, they drew or painted in Nicole's room. After lunch, they swam in Lynette's pool. In the evening, they caught fireflies, rode their bikes up and down the street or sat on the porch and talked.
"Would you like to come camping with us this week-end?" Lynette asked Nicole one evening as they played Scrabble. "We're going to Loon Lake."
Nicole was excited. She'd never been camping. When she asked her parents, they said,"Yes." Nicole and Lynette spent the rest of the week hoping the weather would be good.
The night before Nicole was to leave, Seth tried to frighten her. "People sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories," he said.
"So?" Nicole knew the stories might be scary, but they were only pretend. Telling stories around the fire sounded like fun.
Then he told her about s'mores. Seth explained that s'mores were a campfire desert made with a piece of chocolate and a toasted marshmallow between two graham crackers. "That's what you eat when you listen to ghost stories," Seth said. "Lynette's going to know how weird you are when you don't want any."
Nicole didn't want Lynette to think she was strange. She didn't want her to laugh at her. Nicole wondered whether she should change her mind about going camping, but she was really looking forward to it. She decided not to worry about it.
When they arrived, Lynette's dad took them canoeing. They saw loons diving in the water, hunting for fish.
"Look," Lynette's dad said and pointed to a heap of sticks in the water. He told them it was a beaver's lodge.
The water was so clear, Nicole saw a big fish swim under the canoe. "Maybe I'll try and catch him later," Lynette's dad said.
That evening, Nicole and Lynette gathered kindling for the campfire. They grilled hot dogs and sat around the fire talking.
"Almost story time," Lynette's dad said as it got darker. Nicole started to feel anxious.
Lynette's mom took out a basket of fresh strawberries. She put a big strawberry on a stick and topped it with a dollop of marshmallow fluff from a jar and handed it to Nicole. She made another for Lynette. She showed the girls how to hold the stick over the fire just right so the marshmallow fluff didn't burn. It tasted delicious!
"No s'mores?" Nicole asked.
"I hope you're not disappointed," whispered Lynette. "I don't like chocolate very much."
"Me neither!" said Nicole.
The best friends sat, happily toasting strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff as Lynette's dad told ghost stories.
Published in the Journal Tribune June 21, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced with the permission of the author.