See, the elderly couple who ventured into the franchise this year are from Ottumwa. They drive a good two hours to the mall every day and stand in their white See’s candy lab coats, holding out baskets of lollipops for passersby. This poor couple, the cashier confided to me, will most likely not be back next year. The See’s candy franchise has taken its toll—all that winter driving, varicose veins and such. Poor dears, I thought. And then, poor me, because how will I get See’s candy locally ever ever again? How will I get it without having to pay a 20$ shipping fee from Chicago or California? My purchase today at the See’s candy kiosk wasn’t even for myself—it was a gift. A box of milk chocolate Bordeaux for not-me because I shopped whilst hanging on to the illusion that See’s might be at my disposal at least 3 months out of the upcoming year. And so I was truly forlorn at the news whispered to me by the young cashier. Childhood nostalgia for See’s kicked into high gear.
That's when I had this brief and fleeting idea: *I* could run my own kiosk. And then I could have as much See’s as I wanted.
But, I would probably gain thirty pounds. And I hate the mall at Christmas time.
So I went home and put my packages away, feeling so terribly sorry for myself and the See’s candy deficit in my life that I began to hear voices. The milk chocolate Bordeaux was actually calling my name! At first I couldn’t believe it—these things don’t happen in real life, I told myself. Christmas presents can't really come alive. Tsk.
But, the ethereal reach of a box of candy across the house, from my office where they were stowed away to the kitchen where I put away dinner leftovers became a thing of substance. This box, this gift for a dear relative, was asking me to do something unthinkable, something terrible awful. Oh dear God. I argued with it, chastised the perversion of its thinking. And then I asked the husband:Would you hate me for eating this [$17 box of] See’s Candy?
(A quick aside: It’s better to ask these sorts of questions with melodrama. If I’d asked, for instance:Do you think I should eat Aunt Ione’s box of Christmas chocolates?
--well, a five-year-old could give you the right answer in no time flat.)Would you hate me? Well, that’s just the right cocktail of self-pity mixed with desire and fear of rejection to make a husband tell his wife, practically, No, honey, you go right ahead. Btw, I love you sooo much.
I couldn’t live with the shame of eating someone else's Christmas present in front of him. So I waited 'til he left. And then I did it. Sunk my teeth into that soft center and gave myself the biggest bite on the inside of my cheek to date. Chocolate mingled with the taste of blood. But despite accounting for the blood-chocolate combo, something else just didn’t seem right. And wouldn't you know it, I'd bought the wrong candy, and by “wrong” I mean not the kind I thought I was buying. It lacked chocolate in its gooey center. And it tasted like it’d been in its Christmas wrapper since August, when the factory got ‘em all prepped and ready for the holiday kiosk.
Stupid $17 box of talking chocolates. I'm gonna cut your throat out.In other breaking news, I’m charmed by our neighborhood’s display of outdoor holiday lights. You know how our minds free associate and leap to all sorts of random hypotheses throughout the day? Well, today, I thought: people who put up Christmas lights must be nice. Nice nice. Bring-meals-to-sick people nice. Rescue-a-mutt-from-a-well nice. And if I was stranded on the road, my car engine on fire, my children in tow on a bitterly cold winter’s night, you know which house I’d stop in for help at? Not the one with the people who couldn’t be bothered, the people who didn’t have the time, energy, or emotional resources to string up a Wal-mart rendition of baby Jesus lit up like a Broadway stage. Nope. I’d stop by the house with the well-lit Santa sleigh/reindeer combo in the front yard and hope the residents there (or Santa) would give me a lift home.
(See's candy update: I’m on my
sixth seventh piece.)