Taste Test
"It can't be done," he stated definitively.
"Sure it can, I'll show you. Now, before we start drinking."
The two of them had staked out a couch in the living room. The rest of the party was congregated in the kitchen, which allowed them closer proximity to the alcohol. Since Marcia had dragged Mike in the first place as a social obligation, neither was too concerned if they fulfilled said obligation in a different room from everybody else. Sooner or later, somebody would join them. In the meantime, they had a first pick of the snacks lovingly laid out on the coffee table. It was the M&Ms that had caught their attention.
"You're on," Mike declared.
"I'll close my eyes."
Mike shook his head, "Not good enough."
He slipped out into the hallway, and found where his coat was hung up. The hostess was there talking to a couple that had just arrived. She eyed him suspiciously, knowing that he and Marcia had only just arrived, and that they weren't even mingling properly.
"You're not heading out already?" she asked.
"Oh no, just needed this," he held up his scarf.
"Should I turn up the heat?"
"No, no. Nothing like that. Excuse me."
He returned to the couch, and resumed his place, taking the dish of candies out of Marcia's hands, giving her the scarf instead.
"Put it on."
"I'm not cold."
She rolled her eyes and then dutifully covered them. Meanwhile, Mike swirled the candies about, just to make sure she hadn't arranged them somehow. Then he picked one and held it up.
Marcia had tied the scarf around her head, and while Mike wasn't sure just how opaque it was, he was fairly certain that the crucial detail was blotted out. At her nod, he fed her the candy.
"Very chocolate tasting. Brown."
He fed her another.
"Orange, they have a lighter taste to them."
"Red. It's a bit more chemical tasting."
"Doesn't taste distinctive at all, which in itself is distinctive, Blue."
"Brown again."
"Brown again."
"Yellow. Red. Brown. Orange. Orange. Blue. Red. You know what I really miss? The tan ones, those were good."
"Can you do this with the pastel ones for Easter, too?"
"Nope, those all taste like the blues," she took off the scarf, "How'd I do?"
Mike shook his head in amazement. "Every single one, right on the money. What about peanut M&Ms?"
"Nah, the peanut flavor overpowers the subtle distinctions."
For a moment, they sat there in silence. Mike popped a few in his mouth, but couldn't tell the difference. He offered Marcia some more, but she declined.
"How'd you learn to do that?"
"I was 10, and I was out hiking with my girl scout troop."
"You were a girl scout?"
"And I got separated from the others. Only food I had was a bag of M&M's and I was terrified that I'd never be found. I mean, we were supposed to learn about nature and how to find your way home, and what berries to eat, but all I ever really learned was to sell cookies to strangers, and make bird houses out of popsicle sticks. They come in big boxes, you know."
"The cookies?"
"The popsicle sticks. You don't even get to eat popsicles first. So, I'm sitting in the woods alone, and on the one hand, I know I should save the candy, but it's like as soon as you start thinking something like that, it just makes you want them more. So, I open the bag, but I only let myself have one. So, I put it on my tongue and didn't chew it, just let it slowly dissolve so that it would last longer. Did the same thing with the second one, and it tasted different. Not in the end, but before the shell is entirely gone. So, I started experimenting and comparing. Of course, they've changed around the colors since, but I made a point of testing them out, as they did so."
"How long were you out there?"
"Oh, an hour at most. It's almost a misnomer to say I was lost. I just never really care much for being with the other girls."
Mike nodded, he understood that.
Overflow from the kitchen was starting to spill into the living room now. People talking about their jobs. Two guys were discussing tomorrow's football game. A woman was sipping a glass of wine, and complaining about the vintage.
Marcia wrapped the scarf around her neck. It was soft and warm. She decided that it was her prize for proving Mike wrong.
"Let's go," she said.
He agreed.
They escaped without the hostess seeing them go.