The thing about roasting marshmallows with the cousins was that everybody wanted the straightest coat hanger. Those that had been most carefully unraveled were the easiest for getting your big, gushy marshmallow on and your perfectly charbroiled marshmallow off.
Nobody wanted to get stuck with the twisty coat hangers because that wire would get all up in your marshmallow business, and Lord help your poor tongue if a bit of wire happened to dangle off the edge.
I’ve never even liked marshmallows, by the way, but what I always did enjoy was going to PawPaw Charlie’s with the cousins. Some days that meant joyrides in his Wrangler (the one with the dime stuck in the top of the gear shift handle), and others involved working the concession stand at the chicken fights.
I do remember the snapping and crackling fire out in PawPaw’s field one night, lungs filling up with smoke and eyes slowly becoming hypnotized by the orange glow. I was focusing intently on the dedicated mission of setting my marshmallow on fire when Cousin Eddie smacked me on the leg as hard as he could with his fresh-from-the-flames scorching coat hanger.
We’re still not sure why he did it. Maybe it was because he and I were always bickering about something. Perhaps he just wanted to hear the sizzle of flesh melting under hot metal. Possibly it was because I got the coat hanger he wanted. I think it was just him being an impulsive little boy, because that was what he did best.
So I did what I did best…cried, tattled, and unquestionably constructed a theatrical re-enactment. Or two.
The grown-ups took me inside to look for some medicine, though there wasn’t much by the way of aloe vera at PawPaw Charlie’s, and somehow they got me fixed right up.
I definitely recall that minty toothpaste was involved.
To this day I’m convinced it was some sort of diabolical diversion cooked up by the Big Cousins Mafia. They were probably cracking open one of PawPaw’s cans of PBR on the sly.
And also...s’mores? I’ll pass.