One day my mother baked coconut macaroons in the mid-afternoon lull of a Southern California summer, and the scent of those cookies leaving the oven to sit on a cooling rack next to an open kitchen window was enough to make me want to pack a suitcase and put myself up for adoption. Smelling the steam of white coconut blasting into what I could only deduce to be an insidious concoction of sour milk, rotten eggs, and vanilla extracted from swamp water to magically form fluffy macaroon mounds turned my head inside out. The hot coconut blow was so sharp I had to hold my breath, like I was riding in car through a record heatwave with a family of baboons.
The smell of baked coconut created an electric jolt in my pre-schooled world, cutting into my temples, triggering a war of confusion inside my brain. What was this tropical lightning pulsing through our house, peeling the paper off the walls, creating a roller coaster of waves in the wall-to-wall carpeting, and curling up the ends of my straight hair? Who invented coconut and why would my mother torture me like this? I was losing sanity by the seconds before those macaroons were safely tucked away in Tupperware. The air would slowly clear when Dad came home from work with his tired leather shoes and sweaty office armpits, saturated with the stale odors of industrial carpeting and copy machine toner, but I might not last that long.
I was not even safe outside in my little spaceship of a sandbox. Those hand grenade coconut cookies were roasting next to the open window which faced the backyard play area, contaminating the outside air of my little world. I would burrow myself into the sand if I could, but the neighbor’s cat regarded my sandbox as a giant litter box, and you never knew what you might find if you went digging too deeply into the grains.
My older sister loved coconut and it was completely unfair that she would sing and dance through her island paradise of the interior rooms while I was outside sitting on a sandy pile of cat poop, dying of coconut suffocation. I cried when I realized I would have to go without dessert after dinner for awhile. But if I could be patient long enough, maybe Mom would make a chocolate cake with chocolate icing when the macaroons, at last, had all been eaten. Oh how I would swim through that thickly rich satin of sugar and dark coco, inhaling all the sensory pleasures of my to-be-experienced future self. She might even let me lick one of the beaters if I show up at the right time, if I politely wait just outside the kitchen, if I say please.
- Chloe Sparacino