On your way to John’s Italian Pizza, your heart begins skipping around in your chest. You try not to panic. You know it is not right to blame the jelly beans, but you keep returning to them as the culprit. You hope you can make it to the finish line. If your luck holds out, you will soon sink into the cushy recliner you paid $15 for at Habitat twelve years ago and watch another episode of Longmire with dinner.
You have been thinking about jelly beans since Easter Sunday. You retrace your childhood steps downstairs to find a chocolate bunny sitting upright in a sea of cellophane grass. You admire the marshmallow peeps, aware that many jelly beans are hiding beneath the glossy, green, waves. It never crosses your mind what those colorful pellets might represent.
Finally, you give in. You pull into the drug store parking lot and score a bag of half-priced jelly beans. And now you are feeling sick on your way to pick up a pizza, a special treat for a difficult week. You try not to heap stress on top of your general unease. You turn on the radio, searching for the perfect song. Stay between the lines. You are probably just thirsty. Sugar does that.
You do not know why you like Longmire so much. Soap operas are not your style. You think of what Bob told you about his grandparents, about how their soap operas took priority over their grandkids, and how you used to think they were using TV to escape reality.
The show is set in a fictional county in Wyoming. Walt Longmire, the local Sherriff, is nothing to write home about. The plot elements are predictable and full of holes. There is always a body, multiple suspects, a splash of sexual tension, a measure of distrust, somebody spends time in the jail cell that sits in the middle of the sheriff’s office, and someone always ends up confessing everything to Walt.
No one warned you that Walt, Vic, Ruby, Ferg, Branch, Cady, Henry Standing Bear, Matthias, Travis, and even Jacob Nighthorse, grow on you. No matter how bad the dialogue, or how deep the plot holes, you want to know what the characters will do next. You had no idea it would be so addictive, as irresistible as the sugar in those jelly beans.
You realize that you are using the show as mental floss. Washing away the cares of the day by immersing yourself in a story that does not even faintly resemble your own reality. It would be counter-productive if you were able to place yourself in their shoes. The more improbable, the better. You are self-medicating with sugar and TV.
Finally, you make it home with the pizza. Bob has pulled down the movie screen and hooked the laptop to the projector. Your heart has calmed down. “What will it be tonight?” Bob asks as you carry your plates to the living room. “Oh, I don’t know. A bear mauling? Maybe a drug overdose? Arrows?” You cannot wait to find out.