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Zak of All Trades: Some things just go together, don't you think?

August 9, 2013

Some things were just meant to go together, weren't they?

We learn this fact from the time we're a very young age — and a lot of that experience comes through the portal of our taste buds.

When we are eating our lunches, we crave things that go together. We start dipping things into other things — testing the water to see whether or not this goes well with that. I honestly think it's an instinctual reaction; but if not, it's at least one we learn from others very quickly.

As adults, we know that peanut butter goes well with jelly — considering we like both things. We don't think much about it, but the fact that they go so well together makes perfect sense.

Peanut butter is one of the most glorious tastes I've ever experienced. But left on its own, it leaves my mouth feeling as if it's being starved of all moisture. The jelly becomes a good medium between these two experiences, helping me get the best of both.

Jelly, in fact, is a bit too slimy and moist to devour on its own. The peanut butter plays the same role for the jelly.

They are two things that, looking back on things, seem as if they should have never been apart.

Back to the child dipping things: We don't always get it right. There were plenty of times growing up that I dipped things into something that proved to be "not so good."

I've always been of the mindset that if I like two things very much, combining them has the potential to introduce a euphoric level of pleasure to my taste buds.

As a kid I loved popcorn — I still do, but rarely eat it since a chipped tooth on an unpopped kernel ruined the experience — and I also loved — and still do — barbeque sauce.

Burger King used to give out little bags of popcorn when you'd place your order, and I always got chicken nuggets, which came with my favorite dipper — the BBQ sauce.

Having a bit of sauce left over one time led to my testing the tastual waters, as I dipped my perfectly popped kernel into my leftover sauce.

The result was delightful! I loved every bit of it, and to this day, would still dip my popcorn in my BBQ sauce if I still ate it frequently.
Another such experiment — one that took place in my teenage years — came back to bite me.

I was at a birthday party for the girl I was dating at the time's much-younger brother, and the little kids were huddled around me as I was about to take part in my experiment.

I loved hot dogs, and I loved chocolate sauce. So, it would only make sense that I'd love chocolate sauce in the place of ketchup on my dogs, right?

Wrong.

What resulted was a very nasty-tasting hot dog — and a dozen more that I was forced to eat after all the kids decided they wanted to try it with similar results to their taste test.

I think I ended up eating three of them before I was finally let off the hook by the mother of the party, but I'd learned my lesson.

Sometimes, these perfect pairs sneak up on us and surprise us. Two things that we've known we loved forever — and maybe even that we thought wouldn't go well together — sneak up and surprise us by coming together in perfect harmony.

I've always loved reading, and I've always loved music. Many days were spent trying to listen to music and read at the same time, only to realize that the lyrics coming through the speakers were distracting me from the text in my hands.

When asked my favorite type of music, I used to say, "Anything but classical." Now, I've discovered that classical music — or something like it with Transiberian Orchestra and other similar bands — allows me to experience both music and text fully, as I can read a book and seem to have better comprehension from it if I'm listening to music with no lyrics behind it.

Life's a game, really, and I'm one who likes to fiddle with the game, maybe even test the rules.

One of the most fun parts of the game is finding two things that are perfect together. It's so satisfying.

And too often when we think of this idea, it comes down to romantic matches. When we limit it to that, we miss out on so much.

Everything in life has its purpose, but it's so much fun to see what can happen when two perfectly good purposes combine to make an equally as good, yet separate, purpose — as long as, that is, the combination of the two purposes doesn't lead to the harming of the purpose of one of the originals.

Life's a game. Are you playing? If not, I truly believe that you're missing out!

Zak Lantz is the editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit and will never, never, never try a hot dog with chocolate sauce on it again — never.

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