Candy Coating It

Candy Coating It

Words by Sean Dietrich

Today I read an anger-fueled article sent to me from a friend. The article was nothing but 600 words of well-phrased rants, complaints, and venom. It was awful. And like many truly awful things, it went viral.

When I finished the essay I felt so depressed that I had to take some Pepto-Bismol and lie down. The article bickered about everything. Politics, religion, pollution, crime, taxes, pesticides, SUVs, celebrity culture, the price of gas.

And worse, hundreds of thousands of people had loved these articulated complaints, thereby agreeing that this world is a totally jacked-up place to live.

Well, far be it from me to contradict this well-known writer’s take on the nature of life. He probably poses some really significant points. But all this unpleasant reading left me asking myself one very important question, which I believe this essayist overlooked:

If this world is indeed in a lost cause, then how do you explain Hershey bars?

Let’s think about this logically. Can a world be all that bad as long as it has silken milk chocolate manufactured by the multinational chocolate and cocoa godsend that is the Hershey Company? I submit No.

Has the essay writer ever savored a Hershey bar when it’s room temperature? Has he ever tasted a s’more, for crying out loud? Has the writer ever visited Hersheypark family theme park in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

Obviously not, because Hershey chocolate, in any incarnation, instantly makes the world better.

Certainly, I realize we as a society have our problems; I’m not saying we don’t. But has the embittered author of the seething article ever paused to taste fresh blueberries? How about a Cherokee Purple tomato?

If he hasn’t, he needs to eat several. This might also help relieve some of his mild to severe constipation.

I ate an heirloom tomato today, picked from my neighbor’s garden. I had a visceral reaction. I took one bite and I started shaking my leg like Elvis at a tent revival.

As long as this world keeps pumping out tomatoes, we still have a chance.

What about daylilies? Or tulips? The colors of summer? Sundown over the beach? Homemade pickles? Oven-baked bread? Biscuits? A NASCAR cup series? Little League games? What about James Brown, for cripes sake?

Don’t tell me the world is falling apart when there are recordings of “Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn” performed by the Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk.

And has the writer of such dismal anecdotes ever watched an old man dance with his granddaughter at a wedding reception? Because I’m guessing not.

Last week, I went to a friend’s reception and saw a 73 year-old man take the dance floor with a 6-year-old girl whose hair was in ribbons. The song was “You Are So Beautiful.” The child danced with her grandfather while keeping her feet upon the tops of his shoes.

Are you going to sit there and tell me this world is a giant flaming sack of dog flop when American granddaughters are still dancing on old mens’ shoes?

I simply cannot agree. I don’t care what sorts of written complaints go viral—going viral doesn’t make them correct.

You want to talk viral? Here’s something a history professor once told me about culturally viral things:

Hundreds of years ago when the Choctaw tribes were in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, they had a singular word in their language. It was a short word. And it was among the first bits of human culture to ever “go viral.”

The word was okeh It was used to express agreement, satisfaction, or approval. Okeh was your everyday all-purpose word. You could use it in all kinds of situations.

The missionaries who visited North America were among the first to pick up this word. They started using okeh all the time. They even started using this term in place of “amen.”

The missionaries began writing this word in their journals, their Bibles, and scribbling it on postcards sent across the Atlantic. They started abbreviating it: “O.K.”

Over time, O.K.’s viral status never slowed. Indeed, O.K. is still pretty viral. Today, it is the most used word in the world. This tiny two-letter word is used in 159 countries and almost 6,000 languages.

And it happens to be one of my favorite words. I use it all the time, and so do you. And I think we ought to be using it more often because it’s about time we started trying to be OK with each other.

So, I do not care what kinds of hate-filled articles circulate among the masses. Please don’t send these news items to me, for I have decided that no matter what the essayists claim, I’m not giving up on us. I cannot give up. I will not give up.

Because as long as Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, keeps producing Hershey bars, I believe we’re going to be okeh.