(This is another in an ongoing series about adventures with my first best friend, whom I’ve known since age 6. I have created a table of contents for this saga in the Pages section.)
I don’t remember exactly when, but Chris and I went on a short trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his mom, my mom, my brother and his friend. Oddly, through all the years he and I have been friends, it still is the only trip our families have taken together. I’m glad we made sure it was memorable.
We stayed at the Avanelle Motor Lodge, since renamed but still about the same. I remember the original name because for years I had a drinking glass bearing its logo. I probably sneaked it into a suitcase when nobody was looking.
Chris and his mom had a room adjoining ours, and we kept the door between them open to form a symmetrical suite. Our moms chatted in one room while we four boys played in the other. Somewhere between watching TV and jumping on the beds, we snacked. These snacks included Funmallows — colored, full-size marshmallows in pastel pink, blue, green, and yellow.
It didn’t take long for us to discover that marshmallows, even multicolored, are shaped well for throwing. With a little water added, they had great sticking power, and we had the ideal targets — each other.
I would like to say that we devised an elaborate scoring system valuing each hit according to the color of the marshmallow used. That was not how it went down, however. It was pretty much a free-for-all, and there are not many places to hide in a room at the Avanelle. Our only defense was to dive behind a bed, or take refuge in the bathroom. Retreating to the other room, and therefore our mothers, was commensurate with deserting.
As we had a finite supply of the puffed sugar projectiles, but plenty of sugar-fueled boy energy, we re-used the marshmallows. Combined with the water and the repeated impacts, they got sloppy. So much, in fact, that misfires stuck to walls, curtains, and anything else they hit. They left behind a colorful residue.
In many wars, a weapon is developed that ends up being the showstopper, or it already exists but only one side possesses it. For white man’s dominance over the American Wild West, guns were a key factor (in addition to mass deception). In World War II, the hydrogen bomb made a horrendously final statement.
That night, however, we were not thinking of such lofty concerns. We were just upset that our marshmallows were deteriorating, and needed a replacement.
Looking back, I don’t know who threw the first Fig Newton, but I remember that the game suddenly became much more than a matter of hit counts. We were surviving. Those suckers hurt. Similar to a new weapon in a real war, the Newtons quickly ended the Food Fight at the Avanelle Corral.
Upon checkout, we joked that the housekeeping crew would wonder about all the random colored dots all over the curtains and the walls. I have no recollection of how our mothers reacted.
I’m just glad that adults don’t treat motel rooms like that. Oh, wait, some do. They’re called rock stars.