late night gelatin-based existential pondering

Earlier this evening I went to the fridge to get a refreshing drink of cold water and happened to glimpse a jar of marshmallow creme sitting inside, lonely and abandoned.

It’s been in there for several months, and it’s the first jar of marshmallow creme I can distinctly recall my family ever buying. We got it back in October, for the purpose of making cookies for one of my mom’s many book groups. They were doing a Halloween-themed sort of thing and she had happened upon a recipe in a magazine for ghost-shaped cookies made by spreading marshmallow creme over those peanut-shaped cookies, which we figured was worth a try as much as anything. When we did so, the creme promptly melted right off, which had the interesting effect of shifting the cookies out of the planned ‘Casper’ style and straight into ‘librarian from Ghostbusters‘* territory. Ever since then, no one seems to have been able to think of anything else to do with the stuff, so it’s just kicked around the kitchen aimlessly. We should probably throw it out, or give it to someone we don’t like.

*I don’t watch a lot of horror movies.

But the sight of the stuff in the back of the fridge jogged a memory.

I don’t recall exactly when this was-sometime during winter, but which winter I can’t be sure. It was cold and bleak outside and I was depressed, and also in a Dollar General. I also vaguely remember that my knuckles were bleeding because the skin on my hands was so dry.

As I was drifting vaguely through the grocery section, I happened to stop and look at a row of marshmallow creme, standing in a line on shelf. At that time I had never bought or tasted it, and I wondered briefly what it was like.

And then, as I stood there rubbing the back of my hands, I started to really think about marshmallow creme. You go down these very strange paths of thought when it is dark outside and your life is very lonely, and you possibly also have seasonal affective disorder.

At that point in time, marshmallow creme seemed to be the most utterly inane, pointless, bizarre invention I could possibly think of.

I mean, I live in America. I’m accustomed to strange and unwise food practices. But for some reason, this one made me stop and stare. It just seemed so strange to contemplate, to imagine the great and terrible rise of human civilization, which encompassed so much horror and despair, so many atrocities, as well as so much greatness, bravery and innovation. And it had all been leading up to this. Marshmallows. In a jar.

It gets pretty easy, sometimes, when you’re in that really dark place in the dead of winter, to just see the entire world as being bleak and cold forever. It’s all a terrible place and no one is ever truly happy and you should just give up now because who are you kidding, really?Mankind seems to spend so much time coming up with ways to talk about despicable mankind is, as well as speculative fiction about how the universe is full of unspeakable horrors and we’re all doomed, really, everything is a lie, world sucks, we suck, game over, go home.  But right there, in the face of all that, this thought came flying out at me: it doesn’t matter, we invented marshmallow creme. It was the most oddly comforting thing. It suddenly seemed hard for me to think that humanity as a whole was either terrible or wonderful, because humanity was willing to invent marshmallows and then make them into a paste and put them on sandwiches, which could only mean that humanity was neither good nor bad but in fact completely off its head, and so was the universe as a whole.

I thought: In a universe where marshmallow creme exists, anything else can happen.

I realize that this thought process does not make a great deal of sense. It’s very hard to describe. But there it was. I was having an epiphany, in a Dollar General, over marshmallow creme.

I was still pretty depressed, so it didn’t amount to anything much.

But now, whenever I am reading or watching something and someone goes on at length about how awful the universe is, or somehow looks beyond reality and discovers that there are terrible horrors behind everything, I just think: marshmallow creme.