The first thing you need to know is that the drive between Lake Havasu City, my home town, and Barstow, the city you have to drive through to get from Havasu to Los Angeles, is about two and a half hours long. It’s not a scenic two and a half hours that go by fast because it is such a pleasant drive with lots of pretty things to look at. Its two and a half hours of desert and sun and the occasional small cluster of houses that look abandoned, but aren’t... And when it’s dark it’s just a long drive of darkness with the occasional headlight. I have driven this long long road about one hundred times in my life. That’s right, the drive between Barstow and Havasu was so long and boring that on the way to Havasu my sister and I actually took the time to figure out how many reasons we have had in our lifetimes to drive this route and then crunched the numbers to come up with about one hundred times. It is, unfortunately, pretty accurate.
Well, this time I was all by myself and I had already listened to a Jim Gaffigan CD and was bored with all my easily accessible music. As I sat there, wondering what I could do to amuse myself, I looked over and saw the bag of sunflower seeds that Ashley had left in my car from our drive home. I don’t normally enjoy sunflower seeds, but seeing as how I was still a good hour/hour and a half from Barstow, I decided to try something. On the drive home I had seen Ashley eat them by the mouth full, spitting the seeds into a paper cup. I’d never done this, but it looked easy enough, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I honestly thought it was going to be very simple. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s just sunflower seeds, for crying out loud. A good way to keep myself occupied while I was driving with nothing else to do plus, I’d get a snack!
So, I grabbed the bag of seeds and poured a bunch into my hand. They were covered with a yellow, cheddar flavored powder, which then got all over my hands and jeans. Great start. As I tossed the forty or fifty seeds into my mouth I briefly wondered if that was too many. My thoughts were immediately confirmed when I realized that to break one of them open I had to shove the rest of them to the sides of my mouth, out of the way. There wasn’t enough room! Seeds that I had moved between my cheeks and my teeth on both sides of my mouth kept falling out and getting in the way as I tried to break open a miniscule seed with my teeth (Have you ever noticed how small those things are?).
As I tried to gracefully maneuver a single seed into position, get out the itty bitty edible part, and swiftly spit the shells into a cup I noticed a car coming up on my passenger side. It was also at that moment I realized that I was doing these things neither gracefully nor swiftly. I felt like a young cowboy trying to impress his older peers with his tobacco chewing and spitting skills, but failing completely to do it even half as skillfully as they could with their years of experience. I was getting the shells all over the place and I looked like a chipmunk with his cheeks stuffed to bursting with nuts. Not wanting anyone, even a complete stranger driving past me, to witness my messy first attempt at eating Sunflower seeds, I quickly lowered the cup and tried to suck my cheeks in as much as possible. I think I stopped breathing too and I can only imagine the plastic look on my face as I tried to look normal. I’m sure I failed completely.
Out of that first mouthful I think I ate a totally of ten seeds and twenty shells. The rest escaped into the cup every time I spit. For my second attempt I decided to put about ten seeds in my mouth. That worked a lot better, but I still had trouble separating the tiny seeds from the shattered shells. In the end I decided that I don’t like my food to be such hard work to get to. And also, I don’t like the taste of shells. Laugh at me if you want, but this is an art, people. Eating Sunflower seeds by the mouthful is not just a pastime, it is a skill. Try it. It’s not as easy as you think.