“Peppermint in His Pocket” – enough said. It’s Valentine’s Day. You’ve most likely pieced together the love story. She loves Starlight mints and magically they appear whenever they’re together and she asks for one. It’s not like he goes to CVS or Rite Aid and buys a whole package. No, she knows his modus operandi. He sneaks more than one every time he pays at a restaurant register. What she doesn’t know is exactly how he manages to always have one for her whenever she asks. Is that a task he attends to each day like brushing his teeth? Does he say to himself before he leaves the house, “wallet, cellphone, keys, one mint”? She never thought about it before. It’s just something she took for granted somewhere along the way.
And then one day there’s a story on the radio – one of those drippy, sentimental things that NPR sometimes uses as fillers – “Chicken Soup of the Soul” kind of dribble she calls it because she’s of a cynical nature. She doesn’t hear the whole story – some old guy dies and the funeral director finds something in his pocket. She can’t remember. But she gets the point. It’s something this guy always carried for his wife. So she thinks of the Starlight mints in her husband’s pocket and wonders what she carries in her pockets for him.
She does have Tylenol in her purse. She takes Bayer aspirin, so there’s that. And Tums. She’s got that going for her. But isn’t that because they’re just older? It’s nothing special. She has lots of scraps of paper in her pockets, receipts, things like that. That only shows she remembers Lady Bird’s campaign to “Make America Beautiful.” She throws a can of Coke in her purse once in a while when she leaves to pick him up from work and lately she has remembered to keep his jacket in the backseat in case the California weather turns bad.
But she wants to keep something in her pocket for him that’s special – at least in these last chapters of the story they’re writing. Surely she should have kept things in her pocket from the time she first became an adult, because that’s what adults do. They climb out of their own selfishness and look out for others. Oh, it’s easy when a baby comes. You remember to bring a pacifier and a jar of Gerbers and lots of toys. But it should start before that – on one’s own wedding day at the very least. Lots of people start then. They’re just like that. And those who aren’t can learn to be. But she’s stuck. The chocolate he loves will melt in her pocket and beef jerky is a bit bulky. That’s the trouble with those drippy stories. They never tell you how to figure it out in your own life. All that’s left is to ask him, and she hope that doesn’t take away the magic.