The Zen of Marshmallows
I understood the sentiment that prompted her to send it. My mom knows we love camping, and who wouldn't want to be relieved of the torturous task of actually having to cut a stick out of a tree branch and twist a half-ounce marshmallow on it--by hand, no less? With deep gratitude, we decided to "store" the gadget in our basement, back by the ten-plagues finger puppets she sent my son for Passover when he was five ("Hi, I'm Mr. Boils! What's your name?" "I'm Mr. Cattle Plague! Wanna ruin a nation together?").
For three long years, the marshmallow roaster sat in our basement gathering dust. It's not that we didn't appreciate the spirit in which it was given; it's just that my mother, like so many of us, confuses processes with outcomes, believing that the latter outweigh the former. Like when she sent my wife a bread making machine. My wife likes making bread; she finds the process meditative and healing. The fact that we wind up with fresh bread at the end is a huge bonus but not entirely the point. Shoving ingredients into a slot, going to bed, and awakening to fresh bread misses the essence of the experience. And the same goes for roasting marshmallows. Part of the experience is to learn the fine art of cutting the right stick out of a tree or a shrub and whittling the end to a fine, thin point.