Ten days ago I walked into a large, red-themed variety store and grabbed a basket by the shelf of New Things. Sometimes it's a tub of cheese puffs, in case you have a sudden need to color your fingers and lips orange; sometimes it's lots of Pop Tarts, in case you're thinking "a shingle covered with sugary shellac sounds pret-ty good about now.
This time it was Funfetti. If you're unaware of the substance, it's a type of cake sprinkle, made of sugar, that you put on frosting, which is made of sugar, and spread on a cupcake, which is made of — well, you know. Polysorbate 80! Right. The Funfetti can be found year-round, but this was different. It was red, white and blue. I thought:
Why so soon? Do they fear a run on these things? Fistfights in the cake-mix aisle on July 3 over the last Funfetti tub? I know there are some people who buy them and put them aside so they're handy. It'll be fun for the kids! Red, white and blue cupcakes on the 4th. As if the tots look at the color palette and say, "It's great how the confections reinforce the color scheme that symbolizes our democracy, isn't it?" Which is your cue to lean over and say to your child It's a republic, not a democracy. We've been over this. Then you stand up and say, "Everyone enjoying their republic-colored cupcakes? Yes? Who's looking forward to holding a sparkler at arm's length while the moms capture it on their phones? OK, then!"
But that's still months away. The next manifestation of time's swinging scythe will be the box of fireworks, the appearance of which might as well have a big sign that says STATE FAIR, COMIN' UP. Gah! Stop! It was just the Fishing Opener the other day and now you're making me think about, about, I don't know, Fish Closing! Too fast!
It does seem to come earlier each year, which makes you think that eventually it'll sync up with the calendar. No product with "Harvest" in its name or orange-brown hues will appear before the second week of September. No patriotic bunting will festoon the stores until the week before July 4th. That's how it should be — June lives in the moment, with lemonade and watermelon and sweet corn and gardening supplies, and you don't have to worry about getting a new dirt-digging tool because they've already knocked down the planting department and set out the pumpkins and skeletons.
This Sunday, right here, is really the best. The first part of May made you think Merlin was the meteorologist — the old wizard moved backward through time, which is why we went from glorious warmth to "cover your plants, lest they perish." Memorial Day is still a week ahead, and even though we say it's the start of summer, it's May, and May is spring. Late summer is a time to let go; midsummer is a time to pretend it'll always be so; early summer is like moving into a new house and opening the windows.
Everything's in place. Everything is good and green again. That's why our Memorial Day parties have green Funfetti. OK, it's leftover from the March seasonal items, which went on sale in late January. I stocked up. You just pick out the clovers, and it works.