Is it really mint flavored
or is it just vanilla,
and the pale green color
only paints the illusion of mint on your tongue?
We argue this point every spring
when the daffodils bloom
and Shamrock Shake reappears for a limited time.
We agree that by the fifth or sixth sip
the flavor of the mint fades away
like the memory of a past lover’s kiss
with Mylanta and menthol cigarettes on his breath.
You say that’s because the flavor is faint,
and once we become accustomed to subtlety,
it steps unnoticed into the background:
a voice blending into the chorus so
skillfully that it cannot be heard.
If the mint was boldly persistent,
it would be like drinking
a frothy cup of mouthwash after
Ethel Merman gargled and spit into a sink:
a few bars of Everything’s Coming Up Roses
still astringent on the pallet.
I argue it never was mint to begin with.
By the fifth or sixth sip, you stop looking
at the green complexion of the shake,
and you are no longer prey to the power of suggestion.
The novelty has dissolved
and the belly hunkers down
to power through to the gelatinous end.
There is no more delight,
just the perversion of your
tenderized lips sucking the
congealed lactose up the straw and
the inflamed throat wall funneling it down
to the churning, cement mixer stomach,
where it caulks your colon and hibernates.
Every March, I secretly concede your point further and further,
though I inflate the hyperbole of my stance even wider.
It’s the Mandela Effect;
We falsely remember the mint from our childhood.
The pictures of shamrocks, morphed into sprigs of mint
and the aroma of nostalgia invents the present.
It’s not real mint,
but a natural flavor and color substitute
like the ground red beetles that replaced
the cancerous dye in the red M&Ms,
the secretions of a beaver’s anal gland
that imitate silky French vanilla.
You will tell me
Even the commercials this year
trumpet the Shamrock Shake’s minty pleasures;
It literally says mint on the billboards.
But that’s just what they want you to think.
If you take the side of a corporation,
you’re excusing the Bhopal disaster and
United Fruit’s coup in Guatemala.
Ronald McDonald is the real killer clown
living in the sewer of our intestines.
The snakes St. Patrick drove out of Ireland
were metaphors for the pagans he converted
and the druids deemed heretical by the church.
No snakes ever lived on the island.
They never slithered in the fields of four leaf clovers
or chased after Leprechauns and their marshmallow cereal.
I will remind you of this until April
when they remove the Shamrock Shake from the menu,
and we speak of the resurrection
over Cadbury creme egg omelets.
By next year, I will cease to believe in my own side,
but I will entrench myself even deeper
in my side of the spearmint muck.
Chase Dimock is the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship has appeared in College Literature, Western American Literature, and numerous edited anthologies. His works of literary criticism have appeared in Mayday Magazine, The Lambda Literary Review, Modern American Poetry, and Dissertation Reviews. Links to his publications are available at chasedimock.com