Friday, December 10, 2010

Bugged by the thought

I'm working on a story about unusual gifts for the holidays and that's why I ended up standing in the Thanksgiving Point dinosaur museum gift shop trying to get a two-year-old to eat a scorpion.
Well, not really eat it but lick it.
It seems one of the big sellers for the gift shop — called "Findings, Gifts of Extinction" — are the pieces of candy containing bugs.
There are Chocolate Crick-ettes, flavored larvae, candy worms and suckers with real scorpions and other kinds of scrumptious critters made right into them.
The shop manager said they're harmless and really pretty tasty. I wasn't sure I believed her.
Marc was helping me get photos for my story so he asked this mom and her little boy to pose.
He was cute and it would make for a good picture so I ripped open a scorpion sucker and handed it to the child who initially looked interested because it was obviously candy but very quickly noticed the bug.
"There's a bug in it," he said to his mom, his eyes wide. "I don't want it."
Trying to help us out, the mother assured him that this time it was OK to sample a treat that otherwise would be tossed in the trash.
"Here," she said, "I'll try it. It's OK."
And she licked the sucker.
The little guy looked horrified and then close to tears.
As we continued to try to get him to give it a whirl, I realized we were going against everything this small boy had ever been told about sanity and good nutrition.
I grabbed a dinosaur sucker from the checkstand that didn't have anything in it but artificial flavoring and sugar, tore it open, (assuring the cashier that I would pay for it in a minute) and handed it to him.
"Here," I said, "Here's a better sucker. No bugs!"
He took it and licked it and smiled.
Suddenly I felt much better, much less evil. It didn't matter if we lost the picture.
I think if I buy any of the scorpion suckers in the future, it'll be for a 12-year-old or a co-worker who truly deserves it.

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