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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“Pardon me, miss,” I murmured to an employee of the poker room at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., who, unfortunately, I must describe as a “cigarette girl.” This cigarette girl hawked various candies and tobacco products. I was interested in the former—-I had been playing $10-$20 Texas Hold ’Em for six hours with no food—-and pointed to an item on the cigarette girl’s car. “Are those Chuckles?” I inquired.
“Those are Chuckles,” the cigarette girl replied.
“I intuited this from the package’s distinctive pentaspectra,” I commented. “How much are these Chuckles?
“Chuckles are $1.50,” the cigarette replied.
“$1.50, eh?” I considered pointing out that price of Chuckles had gone up since the bygone days when I purchased them from vending machines for a quarter. However, this garden-variety “the price of Chuckles has gone up” observation seemed tepid at best, so I held my tongue.
“$1.50,” the cigarette girl repeated.
“I will purchase these Chuckles,” I declared. I gave the cigarette-seller $3.00 and told her to keep the change. Chuckles and tip—-$3, I thought.
“Did you just buy Chuckles?” inquired a fat man on my right. I do not exaggerate—-this fat man weighed at least 400 pounds. When I found myself playing “heads-up” (a.k.a. mano-a-mano) in a hand with this man, I folded quickly. Whenever possible, I avoid playing cards with enormous men whose enormousness indicates that they have spent their lives sitting at a green table learning more about poker than I could ever hope to.
“Sir, you are right—-I did just purchase Chuckles,” I replied.
“Chuckles, eh?” the fat man persisted.
“Chuckles,” I repeated. “Sir, might I ask—-when you eat the famously pentacolored Chuckles candy product, in what order do you consume these fine jellies?”
The fat man did not hesitate. “Green, then orange, then yellow, then red, then black.”
“Get past green and black is last?” I inquired.
“Gotta save black for last!” the fat man exclaimed.
“Black is last because black is best?” I probed.
“Black is best and save the best for last,” the fat man advised.
“Interesting,” I admitted. “In my opinion, red—-not black—-is best. Thus, I get past green, then orange, then black, then yellow, then red—-that is, in reverse order that the Chuckles come from the package. Understand—-I respect your decision to eat black last. I myself enjoy licorice, but not quite enough to eat black last. If pressed, I would gladly eat black second to last. However, I would not respect your decision if you ate green last. Death to the green-Chuckle lovers and the lime-apologists!”
“And death to the bakers of key-lime pies!” the fat man shouted.
I shuddered involuntarily. As we sat playing cards, somewhere out there—-somewhere, in a dark, unexplored corner of the globe—-an evil, green devotee of all things tart was plotting the coming Lime Wars, and the sour end of history was upon us.