God, I love it.
The darkened room, the flickering light, the music of the show all holding us, transfixed across the gap of screen to couch. Will we recite familiar dialogue? Will we fly alongside familiar heroes or cry at the loss of a favorite character? Or is tonight something new, the story unfolding before us like a path lit only by each new step?
We gasp and laugh and grip the blanket a little tighter. I glance at my son seconds before his favorite part; he doesn’t disappoint. His eyes grow wide and his mouth inches open. He explodes with laughter, and all is right in the world.
“Dad, can you make us some popcorn?”
The microwave hums as I lean in from the kitchen to the living room, half in the light and half in the dark, gripping the door frame on one leg watching the story move across the screen. It beeps and pull myself into the light. If it stays too long inside it will burn, and we can’t have that. I pour the contents into a plastic bowl.
A blue plastic bowl.
It floods back to me in an instant. Our beloved bowl, the one with Pop-corn! written in script within a tiny cloud atop fading red and white stripes, its edges scalloped like a sea shell, and its once circular circumference now elliptical from so many hands and so many washes in the dishwasher has been…retired.
She had served us at parties too, but it never sat right with me seeing her filled with Doritos or corn chips. It seemed blasphemous to see her in the harsh light of day, instead nestled between us on the couch in the dark theater of our living room. That was her true home, her true calling.
My wife was shocked by our sadness and overcome with emotion, “We can keep it!” she yelled as I held it over the trash can, the sound of “Taps” coming from somewhere. But no, in the end the bottom was scarred from years of hot butter, and a crack had formed somehow. “Nothing gold can stay…” right Ponyboy?
We give her quite a send off, probably more than any dishware deserves, plastic or otherwise, and my son concludes the ceremony with a salute. I applaud his choice: The salute, that action synonymous with duty and service. How many movies reflected off its sides? How many bags of popcorn had spilled their piping hot contents into its bottom? How many times did our hands touch within its walls? Were they a chance encounter or a reach for more than buttery sustenance?
Good-bye popcorn bowl. On the eve of Thanksgiving as we prepare to share food and drink with loved ones, and tell stories of gone ones, I will think of you, our companion on our weekly escape from reality, as we sat huddled on the couch…
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