The Last Bean

Ok, before I tell this story, there’s a few things you need to know about me.

I’m a little obsessive in strange ways. I analyze aspects of my life that the average person would not realize were worthy of analysis. And when I’m eating, it’s really important that the last bite be the absolute best bite possible.

That last fact is why I often eat the tip off the pizza slice and then turn it around and eat the crust next, working my way toward the best, cheesiest, topping-laden bite to consume last. It’s why I get stressed when my children ask me for a bite of something when I’ve already honed it down to the best part. And it’s what brought me to this moment with my jelly beans.

I had poured some Jelly Belly jelly beans into a baggie to take on a road trip recently. While sitting at work, drudging through some less than gripping Ethics training videos, it occurred to me that the baggie was still in my purse. Pulling it out, I saw that there were 40 jelly beans or less.

As I started eating them, I noted that the concentration of red jelly beans was high and I knew why. I can’t stand cinnamon candy. I mean, like bite into it, spit it out into the trash can, scrub my tongue, gulp some water level hatred. And the problem with Jelly Bellies is that you really can’t tell the difference between cherry (yum!) and cinnamon. In fact, on the road trip, I had handed off all uncertain red ones to my husband and learned later that I only had 50% accuracy.

Eyeing the bag, I realized I had a decision to make. Either take a chance with the red beans or throw them out. I pulled them all out of the bag and lined them up between me and my keyboard. If I could only group them into two red variations, I thought, then I could taste one from each and know which were cinnamon.

The problem was – once they were all lined up, I realized that they all looked exactly the same. I could detect no difference! I tried rearranging them to see if I could see a difference, but no. I picked one up and tried to sniff it but got no hint. Taking a bold chance, I popped it in my mouth. And smiled. It was cherry! Yay! So did that mean they all were?

I wasn’t sure. And the quantity of other colors was getting low. It was time to determine which should be my last. The buttered popcorn ones were long gone. So were the red apple. I picked up a dark maroon one thinking that if it were Dr. Pepper, it’d be the perfect last. Unless it was actually Tootsie Roll. That wouldn’t be a good finish.

So then I pulled out some tan ones. If they were caramel apple, great! Peanut butter? Meh. Pink with blue and red splotches? Not going out on bubble gum, no. I sat there, reading the ethics video and sorting the beans into candidate groups. The last bean out of the bag was green. Green is safe. Nothing to write home about but enjoyable.

As I ate some jelly beans, I’d rotate in a red one. Every time: cherry. Nine red jelly beans. The first seven were all cherry. I was loving it! Maybe…maybe… You know, cherry would be a nice jelly bean to go out on. But cinnamon? Man, do I risk it?

While trying to decide on the red beans, I accidentally ate the Dr. Pepper one. And the caramel apples. I was down to the green and the two reds. Ok, I decided, I’ll eat another red. If it’s cherry, they all are. That’s why they all look exactly the same.

Unless… the warning voice whispered in the back of my head…How horrible will it be if the last one is cinnamon? What are the odds, I responded. Eight red beans eaten at random and the last one is the one bean out of hundreds that I absolutely would hate to end on?

I ate the next to last red one. It was cherry. I decided to be brave and eat the green one next.

And then I ate the last red one. The last bean.

Cinnamon.

Seriously.

I actually laughed. And swallowed the bean. It seemed the universe was telling me to get over it.

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