My mother-in-law Ms. Larda and her friends are all excited about the Metamucil Challenge. 

It ain’t like the ice bucket challenge. 

I got to explain. 

Before COVID, what Ms. Larda worried about most, health wise, was blockage. Whenever she read a obituary in the paper, unless they specifically stated that the late person was whacked with an axe or something, Ms. Larda assumed it was blockage. Either heart blockage, or blockage down below.

All her friends think the same way.

And they see Metamucil as God’s answer to blockage. 

Now Metamucil, in case you ain’t part of a crowd that likes to chit-chat about their personal plumbing, is a product that you mix with water and drink. Or you can eat it like a cookie, or take it as a (good-sized) pill. Anyway, you get down your gullet some kind of way and it adds fiber (our grandmas called it ‘roughage’) to your diet. It keeps you “regular.” No more blockage.

But when Ms. Larda told me about this challenge, I thought she was making it up. Then my daughter Gladiola googled it, and sure enough. It’s real. 

Gladiola says the Metamucil company has a web page, plus a Facebook page, all about it. “They want people to call their Metamucil ‘My Meta’” she informs me. 

If you join the challenge by agreeing to take it every day for two weeks, you get a absolutely free $2 coupon for “Meta” and they email you “pro tips” like “Put the powder in the glass before the water” and “Use sparkling water” and even “Bake it in delicious blueberry muffins.”

“There is no way to win this challenge,” I tell Ms. Larda. “You can’t go around claiming to be MORE regular than other people. You can’t post on Facebook every time you…”

“Modine!” she says. “It is a challenge. Not a competition.”

 However, she and her friends – they call themselves the Feisty Femmes – have decided to hold their own little competition to see who can make the best Metamucil recipes. They are getting together one afternoon at Patsy DeMatteo’s to taste each others’ creations, after they agreed that the winner takes all of their $2 coupons. 

Ms. Larda said she was baking her Meta into muffins with pecan topping. 

Unfortunately, Janice Marino’s strawberry-orange smoothie wows everybody. Ms. Larda got to admit it was spectacular, but she suspects there was vodka in there, which the Metamucil company does NOT recommend. Also, she got a lot of muffins left over. 

Luckily, my daughter Gladiola calls up and says she forgot that she is supposed to bring something to school for the teacher’s birthday, and her mother – me – is working late and does Ms. Larda have any ideas? Ms. Larda immediately brings her all the muffins. 

I am a tour guide, and I was leading back-to-back evening tours, and when I get home, that night I fall straight into bed. I don’t even wake up until Gladiola is running out the door. She left me a muffin. 

I drink my coffee and eventually I notice this muffin. I taste the topping. Pecan. Uh-oh.

I text Gladiola. “Muffin?” 

She don’t text back until lunch break “From Grammy Larda. I took a bunch 2 school.”

I text “Anybody 8 them yet?”

She texts, “All gone! Yummy!”

It might be an interesting afternoon at Celibacy Academy. 

Finally Gladiola gets home. I ask what happened. “NOTHING!” she says – except that after my last text (“B ready. Meta in muffins!”) she was so distracted she didn’t learn anything.

But nobody even asked to be excused. And she herself don’t feel no more regular than usual. 

Still. I call Ms. Larda and ask what was she thinking – giving the child loaded muffins.

“Ohhh, Modine!” she says. “For the contest, we substituted Tang. We had already taken our Meta that morning.” 

“Tang?”

“You know – that orange drink powder with Vitamin C. Tastes like Meta.”

I tell her I had a stressful afternoon worrying about everybody getting regular at one time at Celibacy Academy.

Ms. Larda cackles. “But it all come out okay in the ….”

“Don’t say it,” I tell her. 

I had enough of that.