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Pushcart Prize Nominee


The Take 5 Swirl

           Although I love the Take 5 Swirl, Fantasy Twirl removes it from the menu the spring I’m about to turn ten. I’m blindsided when I order and they inform me they no longer carry it. I’m further blindsided when I realize that I’ve eaten my last Take 5 Swirl and I didn’t even know. And now I’m overcome with a silly sense of sadness that only an almost-ten-year-old deprived of his favorite dessert could understand.

That was, in short, my experience Sunday, April 1, 2007, which will, in my mind, forever be known as the day Fantasy Twirl removed the Take 5 Swirl from its menu.

            The Take 5 is a candy bar made up of five ingredients: chocolate, peanuts, caramel, peanut butter, and pretzels. The Take 5 Swirl was made up of a couple of Take 5 bars tossed in Fantasy Twirl’s blender with vanilla ice cream and milk. The beauty was in its simplicity. I was so in love that I often found myself daydreaming about the next time I’d poke my head up to the order window, order a large Take 5 Swirl, grip the frosty cup when it came out, sink my spoon into the ice cream swirling along the cup’s top, and take the first teeth-chilling bite.

            The Take 5 Swirl was the first thing I lost forever. I had lost toys but those could be bought again. I had lost video games but my interest in games evolved so quickly I hardly had any time to grieve before I fired up the next one to replace it. I had lost pets but they could be replaced, too. Like when our family dog Brendall died, and shortly after we took Remy home from the puppy mill. At first I missed the way Brendall tackled me and licked up in my ears as I laughed while rolling on the carpet. Over time, however, I grew to love Remy, and Brendall became only a nebulous memory. All of these losses had methods of replacement, but losing the Take 5 Swirl was different.

            After learning the Take 5 Swirl had been removed from the menu, I acted deftly and ordered what I thought would be a serviceable replacement: the Snickers Swirl. It didn’t come close. I experimented with a new item every time after that. Butterfinger Swirl, Heath Swirl, Cookie Dough Swirl, Kit Kat Swirl, Reese’s Swirl, Twix Swirl, etc., etc., etc. Swirl. And every time my disappointment and grief grew as I realized nothing could replace the Take 5 Swirl. I could buy my own Take 5 bars and blend them with vanilla ice cream and milk at home, sure, but it wasn’t a true Take 5 Swirl.  

            I’ll admit that I realize how silly (and maybe even pathetic) it seems to mourn the loss of a candy bar–vanilla ice cream–milk dessert blend, but the Take 5 Swirl was a primer to my learning an immutable experience of life: loss.

            Since the Take 5 Swirl, I’ve lost friends to time and distance, girlfriends to disagreements and arguments, family members to death. All of these, in their own ways, are irreplaceable, like the Take 5 Swirl.

            But that’s not always for lack of trying. Like when you reference a meme around a new friend and they don’t catch it and it reminds you of that old inside joke with that old friend. Or, with a new partner, when you do that thing where you rub your thumb along their thumb as you’re holding hands while watching Netflix on the couch, and this new partner doesn’t like it so much. That was your thing with your last partner, who’s gone now. That was your Take 5 Swirl, and it can’t be replaced, not with the Snickers Swirl, the Butterfinger Swirl, nor the Heath Swirl.

And maybe that’s not always a bad thing. Maybe it’s nice to know you’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with people and desserts worth missing.

Riley Winchester’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Ligeia Magazine, Miracle Monocle, Sheepshead Review, Ellipsis Zine, Beyond Words, Pure Slush’s “Lifespan”    Anthology, and other publications. He lives in  Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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