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  • It's not that the straws are particularly interesting looking; half the time they're ordinary whites or grays. It's a kind of game we play. A straw safari.

    We go on a trip or an adventure somewhere, we spot an establishment as we drive by that seems a likely candidate to sell soft drinks, and a challenge is thrown down to get that particular "kind" of straws. You're asked to commit to your prey without actually knowing when you will see it again, but almost always, the next time you see it will be on the other side of a divided highway it will take 20 minutes to double back and pass again. We've got a policy against doing that, but Aaron never forgets, so once we have added a straw to our list, we stay poised for another sighting whenever we travel anywhere near the first one. Crazy you say? Perhaps, but on the other hand who am I to say what matters to someone else?

    So last Thanksgiving, as we're leaving one of the first rest stops on the Mass Pike from Albany to Boston, Aaron looks out his window and sees a standalone donut shop at the back of the rest stop just as I'm turning back into the highway, and calls out, with the fervor of a lifelong hunter having finally seen a white rhino with his own eyes, "Honey Dew Straws", and just like that, the die was cast.

    This, always, is where the plot thickens. Make a promise to get them a little bit further down the road, or not? Even though I was pretty sure this chain was not in NY, I thought we were on pretty solid ground. Another 3 or 4 rest stops heading east, and then the full compliment of 5 or 6 on the way back on Saturday. Worst case, the reverse rest stop directly across the highway would have a Honey Dew on the way back, and it would be a two day patience building exercise. Except of coup that it didn't. Rest stop after rest stop visited on the way back, a three hour trip extended past sunset, the capping event of which, as we approached the NY border, was when Aaron mournfully called out under darkening skies from his seat in the back, "Honey Dew, where are you?" There wasn't a dry eye in the car. But it was not to be.
  • So as this Thanksgiving approached, we were so confident we were on firm ground that we actually added Honey Dew straws to Thursday's chalkboard schedule of the week on the kitchen wall back home. I couldn't remember if it was Lee or that one after Lee that starts with a B, but it was a mortal lock, so I went all in, doubling down on my promises, and topping it off with a triumphant "look Aaron, Honey Dew" as we spotted our prey, strangely uncrowded at the back of the second eastbound rest stop.

    Experienced hunters step their final stalking steps gingerly but so sure were we of the trophy that awaited us that I snapped this shot before we had actually secured our prey. There was not much to do when we both realized the store was closed. Another lesson in patience and dealing with uncertainty and disappointment when we really weren't in a learning kind of mood, but you don't often get to pick your lessons in life.

    We solemnly packed up our gear, and resigned ourselves to the fact that the next morning would have to follow the elusive Honey Dew into the countryside, for a drive by on the way to the movies. You can never be sure about these things, but we think we know where they are hiding.
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