I was probably around five years old, in the bathtub with the door open, when my mom's friend Jennifer stopped by. She and I were close - her son and I were friends, and I spent a good deal of time at their apartment, so it was no big deal for her to show up out of nowhere and greet me in the middle of a recreational midday bath.
Jennifer was excited, and after taking a seat on the closed toilet, she eagerly presented a treat she had brought for me. The momentary flood of excitement I felt vanished when I saw the label on the tin cylinder. Peanut brittle. "Have you ever had peanut brittle?" she asked. I told her I had not, trying to hide my apprehension. I can be a picky eater now, but at five I was much worse. Trying new things was, at most, a semiannual occurrence. And I didn't like peanut butter. Or hard candy. But after seeing Jennifer's excitement, the prospect of disappointing her with anything but unfettered glee was too much to bear. "Do you want to try some?" she asked.
"Yeah!" I said. The tin had pictures of brown, bumpy shards. There was nothing in the picture suggesting chocolate, which would have been an incentive, however slight. I forced a smile and got ready. It couldn't be that bad.
"Here, you open it." She handed me the tin and I moved up onto the edge of the bathtub. I remember struggling with the lid. I may have suggested that Jennifer handle the unscrewing, but the responsibility was ultimately mine.
In an instant, chaos erupted: The lid budged and spun out of my hand. Before I could react a black tube three feet long shot out of the tin, followed by another just as the first bounced off the bathroom mirror. Jennifer laughed. "Gotcha'!" Spring-loaded snakes! The whole thing had been an elaborate ruse!
As much as I thrilled at the discovery of a new prank to play on my mom and brother, I was secretly just as delighted that, whatever the day might bring, I would not be pretending to enjoy peanut brittle to spare a friend's feelings.