Archive for August, 2012

My Giant Sesame Seed

By Mr. Doobins

This column first appeared in the July 2012 issue of Forsyth Family magazine:

I am the proud owner of a giant sesame seed. And, when I say giant, I do not exaggerate. If my calculations are correct, my sesame seed is 148 times longer than an ordinary sesame seed, which, as everybody knows, is quite likely to go around patting itself on the back for a job well done if it manages to grow to be a mere eighth-of-an-inch long.

My sesame seed is 18½ inches long. When you see a giant sesame seed and don’t already know what it is, you don’t immediately think, “Why, there’s a giant sesame seed.” No, you think, “What on Earth could that be?”

So, when I go somewhere to give a talk or to read stories, I take it along and let people take guesses about what it might be. It’s an excellent icebreaker. Early on, I took it only when I was going to see kids. One day, I had a thought, “Who am I to deprive adults of the opportunity to see – probably for the first and only time in their lives – a giant sesame seed?”

After that, I started taking it everywhere. I give them a clue – it’s a giant version of something that, in real life, is quite small. I let them handle it. It’s floppy and made of some kind of fabric. Nylon? Even with the clue and the opportunity to touch it, people flounder about. Is it an amoeba? I like that one, I say. But, no, it’s not an amoeba. Is it a placemat? I get that a lot. No. Germ? Egg? Ashtray? Part of a flea? No, no, no, no.

Once the game has run its course, which doesn’t take long, I say, “It’s a sesame seed from the Burger King Whopper hot-air balloon.” I take out my picture of the aforementioned balloon and point out a seed. The audience’s response is always quite satisfying. “Oooh!” some say. “Ahhh!” others say. I tell them that I once floated across Forsyth County in the Burger King Whopper hot-air balloon. After we landed, the pilot asked whether I would like to have a seed cut from a worn-out earlier version of the balloon as a souvenir. “You bet,” I said. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would say “no.” But I suppose such people exist.

The giant sesame seed is one of my most-prized possessions. I try to take good care of it. Once, I let two boys hold onto the sesame seed while I began my talk. They soon started tussling over it, with one yanking at each side. I stopped my talk and took it back. I have not made that mistake again. Ever since, I have put it away before I begin my talk.

Once, a woman came up afterward and told me that she collected large versions of small things. Until then, I had no idea that people collect large versions of small things. Was there any chance that I would sell my giant sesame seed? I didn’t even bother to ask what figure she had in mind. No, I said. If I ever bump into her again, though, I’m going to ask whether she would be willing to show me her collection.

With many treasures, you know someone who has a better one – perhaps one that is worth more or that is less frayed. Or, if they wanted to, they could track down a similar treasure and buy it. Not so with a giant sesame seed. I am the only person I know who owns one. Even if someone does show up someday with another one, it will be like meeting a fellow member of a secret order. Ah, I see that you, too, have looked on the world below from the basket of the Burger King Whopper hot-air balloon.