The Great Peanut Toss….

Once in a child’s life, they hear about a magical place, a place where dreams come true, a place larger than life, bigger than Disney, a place where teeth are optional. A place where families join together around a sticky picnic table and throw peanut shells on the floor.

For some, the legend of the peanut shell tossing will never become a reality due to; allergies, a distaste for peanuts, a distrust for any establishment that encourages the tossing of refuse on the communal floor for sport or for religious complications.

Our nine year old heard about such a place and when we drove past, couldn’t get it out of her head that someone would actually invite you into their restaurant and allow you to make a giant, disgusting mess all over the floor. She had to get her some shells.

But we couldn’t find a day to fit the shell tossing into our schedules because the whole thing sounded well, nutty.

Ellie begged everyday during our vacation to please take her to the restaurant where we could throw things on the floor. I’m not sure if Ellie knew what the restaurant served (other than airborne illness), or even if she knew it was a restaurant and not an absurd game at the local fair, or our front hallway during fall coat season, but she had to try it.

Finally when it didn’t look like it was ever going to happen, Ellie came to me with a sticky ultimatum.

She said, “Mom, if you guys don’t take me to the place that lets you throw shells on the floor, you have to let me throw peanut butter on the kitchen tile.”

Never have I been presented with such a crazy negotiation—and I’ve had a kid hand me a loaded diaper in one hand and corkscrew in the other.

Off we went in our top hats and tails to the (name has been withheld for legal reasons) where the sound of crunching shells and smell of anaphylaxis were pungent.

We arrived at our table with a few extra slivers in our sandals and one beaming nine year old. Her eyes were as wide as one of those four-leaf-clover nuts where you score three peanuts as opposed to just two. My God, now I’m doing it.

She giggled with excitement when our server introduced himself while offering a bucket of peanuts and a smile.

Ellie was the first to grab a peanut, she tapped it on the counter like an egg (as one does when they’ve never cracked a peanut out of a shell before) then bit into it (not allowing the bitter taste to sour her on this unbelievable experience) and finally used her finger nails to first pick at and finally break into the shell.

She quickly ate the peanuts, looked around and then slowly frowned when she saw the empty bucket for the shells had been placed directly in front of her on the table. It was as if the bucket was saying, “Are you seriously going to dismiss me and throw your crap on the floor so some poor kid making minimum wage has to stay up all night with a shop-vac and clean this place up?”

Grandma sensed something was wrong. She saw Ellie’s demeanor change from excited peanut picker to disappointed empty sheller and did the only thing she could.

She handed Ellie a plate full of empties and said, “Throw these on the floor, Ellie.”

Without hesitation, Ellie grabbed the plate, threw the shells and slapped the table laughing hysterically at the rebel she had become.

Then she opened the menu, “They have steak here?”

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