sugar shack

childhood memories involving chocolate

I have been sitting around looking at that box of chocolate and I’ve been flooded with so many memories:

When I was younger I was a chocolate hoarder.  I would never eat all of my Easter candy because I always wanted some left over for the option of eating later.  Having a younger sister made this difficult, so I would hide my Easter candy in my closet.  It never failed that right around Halloween time my mother would find a rock-hard Chocolate Easter Bunny with one missing ear near my folded up winter clothes.  She would complain that I was wasting candy.

Every Easter she would find my old plastic jack-o-lantern sitting under my good shoes with a layer of M&M’s at the bottom.

I hated not having any candy left.  I felt that if I saved it, then I was prolonging my riches.  My sister would always eat her candy right away (after Mom and Dad had gone through to get rid of all of the “unsafe” candy, which for some reason every year were just the Milky Ways and Baby Ruths).

I always hated candy corn and I hated when I’d get it two houses in a row.

I was always sad when I got to the doorstep with the basket that said “Help yourself!” and the basket was empty.

My sister’s favorite chocolate story has everything to do with her even though she has absolutely no memory of it at all.

I was lying on the floor reading a book (I remember it was by Beverly Cleary, probably Beezus and Ramona and I remember that I was about five years old).  I had been eating Hershey’s Kisses and it was becoming bothersome to open and unwrap every single candy between the pages, so I had taken all of them and unwrapped them and lined them up next to me so I could eat and read uninterrupted– except for the few times that my little sister would come toddling by clad in only a diaper.  She was getting to a phase where she liked to hit things with other things, and I was trying to make sure my head wasn’t another target.

I was reading along, minding my own business when I got to a piece of chocolate that was particularly bitter.  It was soft, but tasted so bad I got up to show my mother, because I figured she knew how to contact the Hershey company.  I had half of the candy still in my mouth in that spot under the teeth that you use to hold things that taste bad where your tongue can be pulled up out of harm’s way.

Mom-mah, dis candah tates bah.

All of it?

Naw, di one.  I put it in mah mou an it tates bah.

Well, don’t eat it.

I know, but I wanted to show you.

Well, I’m not going to eat it.

Look at it.

Honey, spit that out.  Spit it out!

What’s wrong?

Where’s your sister?

She’s in the other room.

Was she in the room with you when you were eating the candy?

Uh-huh, but what–

(grabbing my sister)
Come here, baby.  Oh, no.  Just what I thought.  You’ve got a leaky diaper.

She’s got a what?

Go brush your teeth.  I think you ate one of her turds.


Go brush your teeth.  You’ll be fine.  She only eats Gerber food anyway.

OH!  OH!  OH!  Can’t I die?

I don’t think so.  It’s just really nasty, that’s all.  Go clean your mouth.

My sister just sat there in her poopy diaper and smiled at me.

These days she loves to tell that story at the most inappropriate times.

No, this dinner is really great, Mr. Ribon.  Thanks for having me over.

No problem.

I don’t like this stuff.

Just eat it.  You always say that until you start eating it and then you like it.

Well, I don’t like this stuff.

It’s really good, you should try it.

Shutup!  You ate my poop, you’ll eat anything!

What did you do?

You might as well just break up with me now.

Every year I’d want to have a great costume for Halloween and I just kept missing the mark.  The year before I had finally figured out the perfect costume:  I was going to be a teacher.  Right before it was time to trick or treat I went into the bathroom to “Get Ready.”  I found a dress of my mother’s that I thought was frumpy.  I pulled my hair up into a tight bun.  I put a little brown makeup around my eyes.  I grabbed a book and an apple and put it under my arm and skipped outside to show off my pure genius.

“Are you going out to dinner?”  the little boy next door asked me.  “How come you aren’t trick or treating?”

“I am.”

“Well, where’s your costume?”

“This is.”


My mother came outside, “Honey, you need to go get ready.  Go put on your costume.”

“THIS IS MY COSTUME!”  The tears were already forming in my eleven year old eyes.

“What are you supposed to be?”

“I’m a teacher,” I mumbled, kicking the stupid front grass with my stupid patent leathers.

“Oh, honey.  Let’s get you in a good costume.  You look like you’re going to church.”

Mom searched the house for something to put on me in a very last minute situation.  My little sister sat patiently on the couch, her face painted like a cat, and she started up with the suggestions:

“You could wear my tail and we could be kittens.”


“You could put your hair down and put on your bathing suit and go as a dancer.”


“You could carry around the end table and be a mover.”


“I’m just trying to help.”

“I don’t need your stupid help.”

Mom came in at that point with a sweatshirt.  “Put this on.”  She handed me some stirrup pants.  “Put these on, too.”  She told my sister to go and get all of the socks from the shelf over the washing machine.  Mom went into her bedroom and came back with fifteen safety pins from the dry cleaner.

“What are you doing?” I asked, wiping my teary eyes.

“Just wait and see.  Sit down.”  She was smiling, so I know she was proud of her idea.

Mom stuffed all of the socks into other socks and grabbed newspaper to fill the rest.  She picked all of the strange socks that had no matches that sit in the shelf above the washing machine.  She took her makeup and was pressing it all over my face.  That part made me happy:  you can’t be in costume without makeup.

“How’s it look?” I asked my sister.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Mom came back into the room with the dealy-boppers that we had gotten at an amusement park the week before.  She put them over my head and spun me around into the mirror.  “Ta-da!”

I looked at myself in the mirror.  I had silver dealy-boppers on my head that were still bouncing up and down from their new arrival.  My sweatshirt was blue and pinned all along my side and on the sleeves were big socks that were stuffed and each one was a different color. My face looked the same, except I had black and red dots all over it.

“What am I?” I asked.

“You’re a bug!”  Mom was pretty proud of herself on that one.

“I look terrible!”  I started crying.

“No, you’re a good bug,” Mom said.

“Mom, can I be a bug?” my sister asked.

“No, Pamie is the bug.  You’re the cat, remember?”

“I’m a good cat.”

“Yes you are.”

That night as we went trick or treating I must have heard about five times:  “What a pretty kitty!  And look who’s with her!  Why, you are the most interesting thing I’ve seen all night!”

“She’s a BUG!” my sister would should.

I would watch them cover their faces with extra candy bars to hide their giggles.  “She sure is!” they’d say with that voice grown-ups use for little kids who are being humiliated by their parents, like when mothers tape the bow to the forehead of their bald daughters so that everyone stops asking, “How old is he?”

In retrospect, I’m pretty proud of my mother.  She didn’t have to help me out at all.  She knew that no one would know I was a teacher and at least with a bug I looked like I was trying.  By the twentieth house I wasn’t thinking about feeling sorry for myself anymore.  I was happy that my pillowcase was getting heavy with all of the candy and my sister and I had started a game where we’d make the people in the houses guess what I was supposed to be.

I never really did thank my mom, but I didn’t complain when she found that the bad candy that year wasn’t just the Baby Ruths and she was going to have to keep a couple of Snicker’s bars and Peanut M&M’s as well.

So now I sit here in front of this large box of chocolates, and I think to myself the same old thing.  I don’t want to eat it all because then there will be none left.  I don’t want to eat it all because then I’ll just eat all of that candy and that’s not good for me and I’ve been really good at the Tae-Bo and everything, but if I just give it all away then I won’t have anything left and that big box of candy really is impressive, but it’s a shame to let it all go to waste because I think a big box of candy looks better than an empty box of candy.  I’ll just go in the other room and pretend it’s not here.

There’s no doubt in my mind that in four months Eric is going to find a box in the closet and say, “Is this where all that candy went?”

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