Friday, June 27, 2008

Watermelon Annihilators, or, Flavor of the South

[Please note: BookSaga’s content editor has the day off.]

For the past several weeks I’ve been involved in a lot of construction and remodeling—getting the apartments ready for tenants above and behind my bookstore, which means rather than spending lots of time with books I’ve been spending lots of time with electricians, plumbers, drywallers, paint rollers, and almost daily trips to Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse. The good thing, though, about my local Lowe’s is that it is located right next to a Goodwill thrift store, and of course I try to make every trip to town count. Today I was making a quick run back to the book section when I saw an unusual sight. Standing in the adjacent furniture department and engaged in conversation was a bona-fide good ‘ole boy in full trucker garb and a certain Goodwill employee: a buxom young African-American woman. As I approached the books I heard the good ‘ole boy say:

“Ain’t nothing better for acid reflux.” He gestured at his esophagus. “The candy eats the acid right up.”

“Interesting,” the young woman said. “I’ll have to try that.”

Since I’d had a doughnut for breakfast and was already feeling a tinge of heartburn myself I couldn’t resist asking: “I beg your pardon. What is good for heartburn?”

“Watermelon annihilators,” he turned and said.

“Never heard of it. It’s a candy?”

“Yep. But get the watermelon flavor. The othern’s won’t do.”

“Generally though,” I said, “don’t sweets tend to make heartburn worse?”

“Look here, watermelon annihilators work,” he said, “like nothing else. In fact I was just out recently with a buddy of mine on pool night and he was bent over the table when all of a sudden he reared up complaining about his heartburn. I went to give him a watermelon annihilator—and he don’t even like watermelon!—but he took it and, heck, it wasn’t ten minutes later his heartburn was completely gone.”

“Watermelon annihilators,” I said, enunciating the syllables, searching my memory. “Is this a new product?”

“Oh hell no. Annihilators been around a long time.”

“Hmm,” I said. “Where would I find them?”

“Just about anywhere sweets are sold.” Then, looking at his wrist watch, he said: “Hey, gotta go. See ya’ll.”

I turned to the young woman. “You get heartburn, too?”

“When I drink those sweet-flavored alcoholic beverages I do,” she said with a wink and a smile.

“And have you ever heard of these annihilators?”

“Oh yes. But I haven't tried the watermelon.”

“Strange,” I said. “I’ve never heard of them. What do they look like?”

“Well, they’re square, they're chewy, they come in different flavors, and it says Now and Later right there on the package.”

Suddenly it hit me—

Oh good grief. Welcome to the South.