Mary used banana and maraschino cherry ice cream toppings as football players in her own version of a “Superbowl Sundae.” (Photo: pancit tinola; Flickr CC BY 2.0)
For many children, some vital grown-up rituals can be very tedious. So, as storyteller Jay O’Callahan shares with host Steve Curwood, the imaginative youngster Mary creates her own unusual but delicious version of Superbowl Sunday, with sundae toppings.
CURWOOD: It's an encore Living on Earth holiday season show. I'm Steve Curwood. We're back with Jay O'Callahan for more about Mary. This one takes us further into the New Year. For Mary, a certain pro-sports event turns into an opportunity to play her own game. So Jay, what is the story?
O'CALLAHAN: Steve, this Mary story is called "Super Bowl Sundae.”
Mary, eight-years-old, lives in New York, loves the color red. Sunday evening, she'll say to her dad, "Let's play checkers," and she would have the red checkers. Or they would go walking, and her dad would say, "Look at that dog on the red leash," and she might say, "Look at that nose on that red face". She loves the color red. So one Sunday evening she ran in the living room, "All right, Dad, let's play checkers!"
"Oh no, no, no, Mary, this is Superbowl Sunday."
"Oh, this is the best football game of the year. I've been waiting all year for this, Mary. On the table, Mary, I've got everything you want there, cheese, sandwiches, pickles. Now, look at the television."
She looked at the television, and it showed thousands of people in the stadium, and then it showed the football players: the two teams facing one another. The two teams bent down and then they fell on the ground. Boring. But they got up, they faced one another, they got down, they fell on the ground.
"Daddy, this is boring."
"No, defense is the name of the game. Defense is the name of the game, Mary. Now watch this."
So boring. She went into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and, ah, there was a jar of red cherries. Her mother called them “maraschino” cherries. So she took the jar out and she poured the juice into a cup. She had an idea. She would have her own Super Bowl. She had a pewter tray, and she put 23 teeny, little maraschino cherries on the end of the tray. It was going to be maraschinos against the bananas. She got the bananas. She cut slices two inches high. 23 bananas, two inches high, they were on the other end. Now it was going to be maraschinos against the bananas. Now, she needed a stadium, so she got the popcorn going, "Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop." She filled seven, big bowls with popcorn, and the popping kept going on. "Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop." Now, she needed a referee so she had an olive that was the referee. Last thing she needed was the kitchen timer. She put it at three minutes. That was plenty. And now, the Super Bowl was beginning. She lifted up the tray and the teeny little maraschino cherries started down towards the huge bananas. The maraschinos, they were all stopped except for one teeny maraschino who slipped through the bananas and scored. Mary was so excited that she twisted the tray, and the maraschino who scored fell onto the floor, and she stepped on him. Uh-oh! She picked him up. She was the ambulance. [SIREN] She went down to where her mother kept the needle and thread, and then she went back to the kitchen. [SIREN] Now she had to operate on poor maraschino.
"Are you ready?"
"Are you frightened?"
"Oh, but I better put you to sleep."
So she opened the refrigerator. She got the Limburger cheese that smells so terrible. She put it close to the maraschino. Oh, he fainted! She cut him open, sewed him up and put him on the plate. Then, she went back, and there was only a minute and a half left. Now it was the bananas’ turn, so she lifted up the pewter tray and the bananas were stuck to the tray. She put it down, and she turned the bananas so they were on their side, and she lifted the tray and the huge bananas went rolling and rolling down, and they rolled right over the maraschinos, and they scored. Now it was one to one. She set the two teams up, and the bananas said, "Make us a wall."
"Make us a wall."
So the bananas were one wall. Poor maraschinos were going to have to get through them. She lifted the tray. The maraschinos started down towards the wall of banana.
"Put me in."
"Put me in."
It was the maraschino that had been operated on.
"I can't. You've been hurt."
"No, put me in!"
She put the brave maraschino in and the whole stadium said, "Brave, maraschino! Brave, maraschino!"
It was only seven seconds left. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One second. The brave maraschino jumped over the bananas and scored! Mary was so excited she jumped around and she took the seven bowls of popcorn, threw the popcorn all over the kitchen, and then she paraded!
Then she said, "Maraschinos, you deserve a prize. Bananas, you were good too. Tomorrow, you'll be banana bread but, maraschinos, you get the prize." And so she got a bowl and she filled it with vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, strawberry ice cream, and then chocolate sauce. Whipped cream.
"It's for you."
"No, it's for you."
"No, no it's for you.”
“No, you're the best!"
"I suppose I am."
So Mary ate the whole Super Bowl sundae and then she looked around the stadium... popcorn everywhere. The fans hadn't cleaned up. She had to clean the whole stadium. She was tired now, and she went down to her room. She got into bed, and an hour later her dad came.
"Oh, what a game. Oh, my stomach, my stomach. Where's the AlkaSeltzer? Come on, we'll play checkers."
"No, no. I'm tired."
"Well, you better have supper."
"No, Dad, I don't need supper. Good night."
"Well, good night."
He started down the hall. He could hear Mary saying, "Brave maraschino. Brave maraschino."
CURWOOD: Jay O'Callahan. Mary and the maraschino cherry. [LAUGHS] Didn't she top the sundae with the cherries?
O'CALLAHAN: [LAUGHS] She decided that they should go back into the jar with the juice. So she missed that one part, but she looked forward to the next year when they would have another parade.
CURWOOD: I got a suspicion that Mary is really you, Jay O'Callahan. [LAUGHS] So the cherries are back in the bottle. That means there is a promise for the future?
O'CALLAHAN: Exactly. Exactly. And every day when she opens that up she smiles, seeing those red cherries.
CURWOOD: Ahhh, so there is hope, there is fun ahead for us.
O'CALLAHAN: There is lots of hope. Lots of hope. Everybody get your maraschino cherries.
CURWOOD: Jay O'Callahan is an extraordinary storyteller who joins us from time to time. Thank you so much for coming by this year.
O'CALLAHAN: And thank you, Steve. It was a delight as always.
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