Nancy K. Woodard
So often we have previously formed expectations as to what we really look forward to, and how much we will enjoy it.  Unfortunately, our expectations aren't fulfilled as we had planned. Sometimes the outcome is better, sometimes not so good.  The story of my mom and her friend, Marie, illustrates this.
My mom made a chocolate cake which we all really enjoyed.  The recipe called for a mixture of cocoa powder and baking soda stirred into water which was put aside to "work" while she made the basic batter.  When all the other ingredients were stirred together in her big mixing bowl, the chocolate and baking soda was ready to be included into the vanilla batter.  The mixture made a thick, bubbly crust on its surface and it smelled delicious. If you know about cocoa powder and baking soda, you know right away that it would be a very bitter taste, in spite of the delicious aroma.  In our family, we all knew that the chocolate aroma was deceptive, but Mom's friend, Marie, did not know that.  
Marie got a whiff of this tempting chocolate smell, which also looked as inviting as a brownie, and she wanted to have a taste of it.  Mom told her she wouldn't like it and she wouldn't let her taste it. Marie begged! Mom insisted that Marie would not like it at all because it tasted awful.  Marie insisted that she wanted to taste it. "Oh, Elsie," she begged. "I know that you are just saying that because you don't want me to have any of it." Mom tried again to convince her that she would not like it.  Finally, Mom had to give her a taste, just a little taste. Marie sputtered! It really did taste bitter, --a get that awful stuff away from me bitter! It certainly didn't taste anything like it smelled, or like anything Marie had anticipated.  I think she was sorry that she had tasted it.  
From time to time, we all have these experiences where what happens does not come anywhere near what we expect to happen.  One of my such experiences features a shiny, stainless steel breadbox. Here's the story.
Many years ago, in a time far away, we young housewives used to collect S&H green stamps.  We got them at select stores where we bought groceries. We got the stamps at the check out counter, --so many stamps for so many dollars spent at the store.  Occasionally the store would feature Double Stamp Day. We would make it a point to do our shopping on that day when we would get twice the number of stamps for the amount of money we spent.  
We would paste the stamps into small paper booklets.  From time to time we would pick up a Green Stamp Catalogue, which showed enticing pictures of products you could "buy" with your completed books of stamps.  It was called redeeming the stamps and there were stamp redemption centers where we could exchange the correct number of books of stamps for the item we wanted to have.  
I loved this.  I enjoyed filling up the little books with the rows of Green Stamps.  One of the items that drew me in was a shiny, stainless steel breadbox.  I wanted that breadbox! Finally the day came when I had accumulated enough books of stamps and I could trade them in for a beautiful, shiny, stainless steel breadbox!  I had looked forward to owning that thing for a great long time.  
When I got it home, I discovered that it took up much too much room on the kitchen counter.  But, I could live with that. I made room for it at the end of the counter. I began to store loaves of bread in it.  What a wonderful way to keep the bread, and it was so close at hand. And, the best part was that it was such a beautiful piece of work in my kitchen!
But wait!  It wasn't a wonderful way to store bread at all!  In just a couple of days, bread stored in that beautiful storage unit would start to be moldy!  We couldn't eat the stored bread fast enough to keep it from molding. It wasn't at all what I expected.  I could not use it to store bread or baked goods. There it sat, the beautiful monster, shiny and bright, but it was deadly for bread!
What could I do with it?  I toyed with the idea of making a diorama in the breadbox.  I enjoyed thinking of what scene I would make to set up in my breadbox.  I thought about how surprised people would be if they opened my breadbox and found no bread, but instead a miniature scene from a book I had read.  However, I was too busy with life and it was just an idea that died on the vine. I never took time to make a diorama.  
Disillusioned, I finally had to give it away, to a place like Goodwill, where it might possibly go to someone else who could maybe find the time to make a diorama in a breadbox, or maybe put bread in the breadbox for one day and quickly eat it up.  I do not know if anyone ever enjoyed using that breadbox, but that venture did not turn out for me as I had expected it to.  
However, later I did collect enough stamp books to exchange them for a kitchen step-stool.  That was successful and satisfying. I still have and use that step-stool in my kitchen and it has been painted twice since it was new.  The last time I painted it was probably in 2005, and LaVonne Miller helped me paint it that day. ---Ah, it could use another face lift, a nice coat of bright red paint would probably make it happy.  But it is still sturdy and safe for me to use to reach things on higher shelves. I've come to feel fondness about the step-stool I "bought" with the green stamps.
I still like to think of fun, successful things I will enjoy, even though I do know that sometimes what I'm hoping for will not turn out to be what I expected. 

Nancy K. Woodard writes from Corry.

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