Sunday, September 13, 2009

Looking Back: A Self-Reflexive Project

Anthony Giddens, a noted cultural scholar, argues that our ontological security is defined by how we define our own narratives. He says that we constantly amend, alter, shift how we think of ourselves and present ourselves to others, that all of our machinations are parts of a self-reflexive project of personal identity formation.

Anthony Giddens.

A friend of mine last night noted that this blog seemed to have a wistful theme, a pining for youthful days. This is undoubtedly true. First, the majority of my most poignant candy experiences happened as a wide-eyed youngster, and so, it makes sense that a blog about my-life-in-candy would highlight those formative moments. Also, though, I'd like to write myself back to a time when I was less cynical, more apt to be truly happy, unlikely to get, as I put it often, into "fuck it mode." As such, I'd like my narrative to drift back to happy times, when a fistful of candy and a lake swim or a tree seat meant nirvana.

However, just to show that this blog need not be all rainbows and lollipops, I will tell you a tale of my youth that I do not look back on through rose-colored lenses.

Once I became a bit older (I don't remember exactly how old), I got an allowance of 5 dollars per week for performing weekly chores-- dusting, vacuuming, washing the dishes, mowing the lawn. It wasn't a lot of money, but it allowed me to fuel my two young passions: baseball cards and candy. I was a huge Darryl Strawberry fan, and in a few short years, I had collected over 200 of his cards, over 100 of them distinct. Each week, my cousin and I would get our grandparents to take us up to the local flea market where a baseball card collector had a booth. Once he noticed that each week I would come in looking for Strawberrys, he would have any new or obscure cards he could find waiting for me. I was able to amass an impressive collection, indeed.

The Fleer rookie: once worth $30! The gold standard (excepting the Topps 1983 "extra rookie card," which I never could afford.)

Usually, too, if we had not spent all of our money on cards, we would ask our grandparents to stop at the local grocery store/drug store so that we could pick up some of the sweet stuff. When we went to the grocery store, we would go to the by-the-pound display of individually wrapped candies. You could buy samples for a nickel a piece (on the honors system, too--you just put a nickel in a box on the display!) or you could fill a bag and pay by weight. This was a Brach's display, and the candies available were unique to the display-- most could not be purchased in packaged form. Two varieties I remember distinctly were gumballs surrounded by a cherry candy coating (a blow-pop without the stick, but flavored differently) and a selection of caramel-like chews of all flavors. They were caramel-like in the texture, and some were actually caramel. But there were also maple flavors, chocolate flavors, fruit flavors within caramel, maple, or chocolate flavors, etc. Man, those things were so f*&$%ing good! Of course, you can no longer find them, and the world is worse for it. (Uh oh, there goes the wistfulness again.)

If we didn't go to the grocery store, we headed next door to the Rev-Co (later bought by Rite-Aid). There, of course, you could find all of the normal candies, pre-packaged and glowing in their brilliance. On one occasion I can remember, I steered away from my usual fruit-and-sour pick of candies and bought some chocolate: a Snickers bar and a Zero bar. {I have a great Zero bar story to tell later, so someone remind me of that if you don't see it soon...}

The Zero bar: the only time white chocolate is OK- and, the perfect combo of nougat and almonds.

Anyway, of course my cousin and I were steady woofing down some of our candy in the car. I went for the Zero bar, and my cousin (the misguided soul) went for some Twizzlers. Though the store is only about 3 or so miles from our house, we had each finished our first candies by the time we got half-way home. To my credit, though, I was trying to be good. I restrained myself from eating the snickers, opting to save it for later. If I could bring it out the next day, after my cousin had already eaten his candy, well, I could throw it in his face, couldn't I, moaning and closing my eyes in ecstasy as I slowly ate the chocolaty goodness.

So, once I got home, I put the Snickers under my bed, smiling about my plan for the next day. However, I awoke to a horrific experience. Immediately upon waking, I reached for the candy bar. It was there, where I left it, but something wasn't right. As my hand emerged from beneath the comforter, the issue became clear: the Snickers, and my arm, were covered in ants. Apparently, they, too, were candy lovers and had found their way into my room and had cut a small hole into the wrapper. They were all over the package AND pouring out from the hole. This was straight out of Hellraiser, ya'll.
A life cut short...

Indeed, I cannot fully explain to you the horror of this event. First, I absolutely HATE insects, especially ones that come en masse. Swarming or hording bugs make me ill. And second, of course, the ants had taken my prize. I danced around, shaking ants off me, throwing the candy out the door, itching all over. The rest of the next two hours or so was me on my hands and knees, my face down near the blue carpet, crushing ants. I am scratching myself all over as I write this. So nasty.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that when you plan to use candy for ill, fate has a way of punishing you for your hubris. Let that be a lesson to you all... and an example that not all of my young candy memories are happy ones.

1 comment:

  1. So much truth in this one.... goddamn brachs and Zeros are great...