We don't remember much about fourth grade except for our field trip to Jefferson City. Sure, we liked our teacher enough, but if asked to name one thing we learned during that school year we can't. Third grade was long division and fifth was heavy science, but fourth sits somewhere in between, bathed in pink. Our teacher loved the color and she painted the classroom's lockers numerous shades of it, from a whitish ice pink to a deep, seductive mauve. We do remember her strong perfume, and every couple of years we'll catch a whiff of it and turn to see if it's her, demanding a permission slip before we continue our walk down the street.
As fifth graders, we were busy developing a scent sense of our own, which largely involved sniffing deodorants and going to The Body Shop at Crestwood Mall. We'd apply all sorts of fruity perfumes and oils until we ran out of room on both arms, eventually smelling like we were caught in the middle of a detonated farmers market. But when it came to actually buying something with our babysitting money, we inevitably settled on The Body Shop's Fuzzy Peach varietals: soap, perfume, lotion and whatever else we could cram into our skinny, stinky arms.
Smell is hard to wash from memory; to us, Snapple's nectarine-flavored white tea is potable Fuzzy Peach. Snapple introduced its line of white teas last spring, but we've just recently started working our way through the flavors in hopes of curbing our insane Coke habit. (That'd be the soda, not the drug: We can't afford the latter.)
"What is white tea?" the label asks. "White tea is a baby tea leaf that is plucked when it's young so it's light in flavor and high in antioxidants. We brewed this rare tea and mixed it with the delicious light fruit flavor of Nectarine to give you an all-natural beverage..."
We're on board until the last sentences, which are easily the most disturbing we've ever read on packaging: "So drink up, but quietly. The baby tea leaves are sleeping." Each time, we mentally add: "That is, until we literally cut their young, promising lives short. With machetes. Happy drinking!" Coming from the company that touts itself as makers of The Best Stuff on Earth, this violent death of baby tea leaves saddens us more than eating veal and scrambled eggs food from baby animals that had actual parents, yet is also devoid of labels to remind us.
But then we open the lid to the 17.5-ounce glass bottle and a bit of trivia is revealed: "Underwater hockey is played with a 3-pound puck." This, itself, raises enough questions that we momentarily forget we're a killer.
We swallow the guilt and enjoy this new-to-us drink even though we can't discern many tea-like qualities. The ever-so-vaguely orange liquid can taste syrupy, and on our palette it's still more peach than nectarine. Nonetheless, so jammed is our refrigerator with these products that it now resembles the one at Schnucks we bought the bottles from in the first place.
So for now, we'll keep unscrewing the lid with the hope that its words will distract us from the infanticide held within. That is, until we someday open a drink that silently pleads, "Please. Please. Don't."
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