Nonpareils. Trending.

Suffice it to say that I'm suffering from “Holiday” brain. My inner kid is taking over, leaving my reasoning skills impaired, causing me to crave treats that would likely glitch my fructose-intolerant system. So, it seems appropriate that I use one of the candy-verb combinations solicited on one of my recent Facebook posts. Thanks to Priscilla Haynes, who offered up the nonpareils-trending combo.

      Nonpareils saved my life. Well, maybe quick thinking also had a little bit to do with it, but for now, I'm giving the tiny candies all the credit.

      Two days ago, we received our assigned potluck items to bring to the boss's Holiday shindig. Last year, my boss, the discriminating, meticulous, and overbearing party planner, had eliminated unwanted dishes by implementing an assignment system. This year, rumblings of discontent resulted in my boss's idea of randomization--she dumped all of her desired dishes into a stocking and let each employee draw.

      My task was to whip up three-dozen cupcakes, each topped with buttercream icing and decorated with Holiday-colored nonpareils. As if the thought of concocting buttercream icing wasn't daunting enough, I actually had to search the Web to find out what the heck a nonpareil was. And though I'm a huge fan of Sno-Caps, I was pretty sure my boss was after a garnish of itty-bitty red and green candy balls.

      Another search and I had a recipe. All of the ingredients proved easy to find except for the nonpareils. Finally, I discovered Williams-Sonoma's "Holiday Non-Pareils," and a trip to the mall ensued.

      After securing the last two jars of festive, cupcake-topping splendor, I trooped through the parking lot with my head held high, proud of my find. But as I approached my car, a queasy feeling formed in the pit of my stomach. I'd read enough emails about creeps hiding under cars and slashing Achilles tendons to be paranoid, so I slowed. I "accidentally" dropped my keys to spy under the chassis. Nothing. By the time I stood, a man had sidled up behind me.

      "Don't move," he said, pressing something hard into my back.

      Since I didn't think a normal man's Mr. Happy could reach between my shoulder blades, I guessed he was holding a gun. Luckily, I had visited the rest room before exiting the mall, so I hadn't wet my pants. I did, however, fumble and drop my shopping bag.

      I instinctively bent to collect the bag. The assailant shoved me forward, and I fell atop the bag.

      He hovered over me. "I said don't move. Are you deaf or something?" He shook his head. "I don't need this shit."

      Him? Fear turned to fiery anger. I shifted just enough to reach into my bag, where beneath my weight, one of my nonpareil jars had cracked and lost its lid. Suddenly, I couldn't stop words from spilling out of my mouth. "Sure . . . big man with a gun. You've got it so rough. Sorry for spoiling your grab-and-go robbery plan."

      He clutched one of my shoulders and spun me around. His face was obscured by a ski mask, but the glint in his eyes and the gun in my face reminded me of my fight-or-flight situation. Weaponless, I chose flight. I tossed a handful of nonpareils at his eyes and sprinted to my car.

      Before I could put the car in gear, my rear window exploded. I threw the shifter into reverse, turned the wheel and stomped on the gas, and I was rewarded with a thud and a scream of agony.

      By the time the cops arrived, photo-taking, information-seeking gawkers had surrounded my car. For a millisecond, I felt as popular as the new lightening bolt-patterned Furby. Despite the commotion, I managed to relay my story to the cops, citing how nonpareils had saved the day.

      Now, nonpareils are trending on Twitter, and the scariest thing I have to do is to follow through with edible cupcakes for my boss's party.