My theory: the invention of cinnamon hearts was an evil scheme to create a painful deterrent to kissing. The deterrent effect also extends to long talks, or brief talks, or eating Valentine's chocolates, or chewing any sort of dinner, no matter how romantic the menu pricing. Surely the inventor overshot his anti-intimacy goals, though, when even drinking pure water became laced with agony.
Cinnamon is one of the known causes of canker sores.
Known, to me, as of this week.
It all started with a nice friendly gesture from Ruth, when she brought a small cup of those enticing little candies over to the table where James and I were reading.
I knew they were potent, but I didn't mind nibbling a few. The sharp cinnamon flavour made a fine present-moment counterpoint to the short story that was carrying my mind far away.
The second nibble didn't seem quite so potent. Of course, my taste buds had habituated a little.
More nibbles followed. Nibble is probably the wrong word. They weren't handfuls, since the cup was too small to dig my hand in that way, but certainly I was taking several cinnamon hearts at a time.
Gradually the counterpoint began to intrude on the story as a sensation of mild discomfort.
The story was potent, too, though, and the oral sensation had advanced to the point of pain before I became attentive enough to put some distance between myself and the small cup of fire. If I'd stayed within arm's reach of it, well . . . I don't like to think about that.
When I mentioned my discomfort, Ruth admitted that she herself had ceased eating those minute flavour bombs when her face turned red. Her gift to me and James was not entirely out of generosity.
The cinnamon hearts were originally a gift to her, as part of another dubious scheme: the "Secret Pal" event at school. A student who signs up for it is assigned a "secret pal," and proceeds to leave anonymous gifts in that student's locker each day of the week surrounding Valentine's Day. By the end of the week, most of the secrets have been revealed, much cash has been spent on fake-fur-facsimiles of bears and such, and the students are thoroughly dosed with sugar, caffeine, red food colouring, and of course, cinnamaldehyde.
You might be thinking that my theory is a mild paranoia. Really, even if there were some antisocial inventor behind cinnamon hearts, surely they would never have become popular if they were so directly bad for us?
Well, here is the rest of the story. James, sitting there at the same table, reading and chewing, didn't get any sores.
Canker sores are twice as common in women as in men.
What a deliciously evil scheme! Just buy a 99 cent pouch of cinnamon hearts, and sometime around the 12th of February, pour them into that heart-shaped candy bowl you bought her last year. Place it at an appealing angle on the coffee table. If you don't have a coffee table, try the end table, the kitchen table, the bedside table, or the side of the tub. It really doesn't matter, as long as it's a horizontal surface within arm's reach of a spot where she sits often.
Then wait. Chances are, she'll soon be saying, "No chocolates this year, dear; sweets hurt my mouth too much." And then, "Honey, leth nah bother going ou' for dhinner; I'll juth make mythelf thomething I can drink through a thtraw."
And later, "Sweetheart, let's skip this part."
Ah, sweet victory.