It wasn’t like this boy to throw a tantrum in the cereal aisle of the supermarket, and it wasn’t like his mother to give in to one, but here they were, for some reason, both making an exception.
“Okay,” she said, and threw the box deep into the far corner of the main part of the shopping cart. “Okay. Don’t let your father see it.”
The family never bought sugar cereals and never bought name-brand cereals, so this split-second sight of his mother’s wrist flicking an official name-brand sugar cereal into the cart was something he had to keep replaying in his head for the next several minutes until he was literally dizzy on the image of the impossible. The sensation of seeing and reseeing that wrist snap was something he couldn’t make sense of, something that would be best described by words he didn’t know yet: surreal, pornographic.
The boy kept an even pace with the white-dirt-frosted black wheels so he could stare uninterrupted at the creature that he and his mother had captured. Yes: There in the cart, after all these years, was Tony the Tiger, caged at last. And Tony the Tiger promised even more fun ahead: In a bright blast of words spilling from his sportive expression, Tony the Tiger explained that the box on which he was emblazoned contained not just name-brand sugar cereal—as if that weren’t enough—but also a miniature treasure chest, and—as if that weren’t enough—inside the treasure chest was a secret code, and—as if that weren’t enough!—the code could possibly lead to a cash prize of one hundred thousand dollars.
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Benjamin (B.J.) Novak is a writer and actor best known for his work on the Emmy Award-winning American television series The Office, on which he contributed as an actor, writer, director, and executive producer. He is also known for his appearances in films, such as Inglourious Basterds and Saving Mr. Banks, and for his standup comedy performances.
This story is excerpted from One More Thing by B.J. Novak. Copyright © 2014 by B.J. Novak. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.