There are all kinds of cereal in this world. Cereal as a force blew up after Will Kellogg turned over-cooked flakes into America’s breakfast staple. What was initially thought as a health food, the fifties and sixties exploited with sugar. Sugar Pops, Fruit Loops, and Frosted Flakes had their share of followers.
But Cap’n Crunch took it to a whole new level. Tiny rectangles, shaped liked pillows were anything but soft. Hardened sugar crystals cut kid’s gums. Crunch became mash and mash stuck between teeth and filled holes where fillings used to be. But make no mistake—I loved the Captain.
A little man in an overdone uniform with a large sword. He knew no bounds, no limits, but he knew who he was, even amongst his haters. He sold cereal. No fancy movie deals, not even a cartoon. His story unraveled in thirty second spots. He had me hooked even if he never killed a bad guy, rescued a distressed damsel or stopped a speeding train.
We knew the Captain wasn’t real! He didn’t pretend, he wasn’t Santa Claus or his half-sibling, Easter Bunny. After they let me down, there was always breakfast. The Captain waited behind the varnished pine door. I pushed a vinyl clad aluminum chair across the cracked linoleum and climbed up on the counter. There waiting in the dark were boxes—Shredded Wheat (the real kind), Raisin Brand, and a huge bag of tasteless Puffed Rice. Not even a close second, not even in the same conversation. I took down the red box with the funny little man in his blue double-breasted coat. While staring at the maze on the back of the box, I spooned my favorite cereal from my favorite bowl. Still in pajamas, brother and sisters buzzing around me, just me the Captain. Nothing else mattered. It wasn’t the sugar nor the wheat—it was the crunch, the munch, and the mash.
And yea, it was the Captain.
No need to over think it, no need to worry homework wasn’t done, the test wasn’t studied for, and the big kid waited for me on the corner. The only thing that mattered was figuring how to get the Captain to the treasure chest of cereal on the back of the box. Nothing else was seen or heard.
There were no sugar highs, no attention problems, not even a concern for cavities. That’s what sports, the paddle, and the dentist was for. Kids could crack heads in plastic helmets, teachers could pull out their paddle, and the dentist was paid in cash.
We didn’t know anything else. Life wasn’t bliss, not perfect. Life was gritty, sweaty in summer and cold in the winter. We learned to sleep with the window open when school let out, and sleep with our hands tucked between our thighs when the season changed. A cold radiator taunted me from the corner of the room but sleeping on the top bunk kept me warm and out of the way. Only when I fell out of bed on the first day of fourth grade was it a concern.
The Captain kept me sane. A comical man, mythic in proportions, mostly middle, but all heart. A fanciful illusion at a fanciful age.
Today my cabinet has an occasional box of Shredded Wheat and a self-imposed cylinder of store brand oatmeal. The old carbo-loading me has given way to a new health conscious me—almost. The little sugary munchkin is just no match for the ravages of time, the gravity of guilt.
But when answers are short, and why’s will never be answered, a lil’ Cap’n in the morning may be the best you can do. The day will shine greatness or it will suck in defeat. But a moment is all you have. The day is made of moments, and this is yours. The only moment that matters.
My Cap’n Crunch isn’t the answer, he never really was. My Captain created some space, a pause when an overwhelming world loomed large and threatening. A respite before I faced the kid on the corner. Your Captain may come from a place that just might surprise you–before you surprise the kid on the corner.
I am a Clinical Psychologist, a former Captain in the Navy, and I lost my son in 2014. So I took to the wilderness and found that God’s world opens up when everything you need is on your back and your only concern is the next white blaze.
Hey, I wrote a book, When Sunday Smiled, and now it has it’s own inspirational song! It’s for all kinds of people who have lost their way in this world. Check out both on my website, Andymdavidson.com.