Saturday, October 30, 2010

There's always a "Better not!"

MARK’S ARTICLE -- October 30, 2010
“Becoming one with chocolate”

Life is crammed full of “better nots.” Have you noticed that? From the time I was in diapers up till today, it’s been, “You better not do that.” and “You better not eat that.”

And, there’s little doubt that the better-not trend will continue up through the time I again find myself in diapers. Probably mid 2011.

When I was a kid, Mom always bought the worst cereal in the world. Not the second worst -- Okra Chex. But, the very worst -- Grape Nut Flakes. I’ve mentioned that a time or two, and I may continue until someone else remembers the horrors of that cereal. The second milk hit the flakes you had a bowl of gray sludge. School wasn’t bad enough; we had to eat that stuff before we caught the bus.

Mom wouldn’t get Sugar Pops or Frosted Flakes. Or any other of the four good cereals. The good cereals generally came with a prize, as if a kid needed any more incentive. But, it didn’t matter to Mom. She usually bought the same thing. “Ask the people in the Soviet Union if they would like some Grape Nut Flakes! They’re eating Okra Chex over there!”

Oh, occasionally Mom might get a box of Puffed Rice. Puffed Rice? Some genius figured out how to turn rice into air. You get hungry just eating the stuff. Mom never saw that.

There was no reasoning with moms. The old moms. Not, today’s moms. If one of today’s Moms had raised me, I would’ve turned out so much better. Every morning would’ve been a sugary, crunchy delight. But, noooo. Today’s kids don’t deserve their moms. The little weasels.

When I was a kid, every other waking thought involved something along the lines of “Boy, when I grow up, things will be so much better. I’ll eat what I want and I’ll do what I want.”

Well, I’m pretty close to grown up now, and I still can’t get, eat or do what I want. You know what kind of cereal I eat? Well, two of you do, ‘cause I’ve mentioned it. I mix Wheat Chex with Grape Nuts. Not Grape Nut Flakes! The flakes were banned in the Helsinki Treaty of ’72. Mom cried for a week.

My Chex-Nut combo isn’t bad. In fact, they’re supposed to be good for me. Not like all the sugary cereals that I prefer. But, I can’t get those ‘cause doctors say that kind of stuff is really bad for you. Nobody even knows what a grape nut is, but it’s supposed to be better for you than a Cocoa Puff! Doctors are really messin’ with us.

And, chocolate? Let’s talk chocolate. There have been only a hand full of times when I came close to eating all the chocolate I wanted. One was about six Christmas’ ago. Kay and I were in Sam’s and she let me buy one of those giant Hershey Bars. It was huge. About an inch thick, a foot wide and two or three feet long. I think they’ve been outlawed.

I didn’t eat the chocolate plank in one setting, but I came close. An inch of chocolate is hard. I don’t know if you knew that. I about broke my teeth on that thing. There for a day or two I thought I might O.D. -- “Mrs. Hayter, I’ve never seen anything like it. He was chocolated to death. Didn’t look like he suffered much, though.”

Other than the Hershey bar episode I had a run-in with one of those Sam-sized bags of M&Ms. Peanut M&Ms. Is there any other kind? That night I became one with that bag. Kay found me the next morning lying in the backyard on the Jungle Gym. I had not idea how I got there.

That’s the way it’s been. Instead of buying a little bit of chocolate and keeping it on hand. I buy a bunch about once a year and go on a binge. Hey, it’s how I cope.

Take Pie in the Sky. The time Brad Meyer and I visited, I actually ordered dessert. I wasn’t going to, but we were in a PIE PLACE. I thought I mentioned that. So much to choose from. I chose Chocolate Peanut Butter pie. It was so good I wept. If there is pie in heaven – and I can’t imagine heaven without pie – I want the chocolate peanut butter just like at Pie in the Sky. If you end up in purgatory, I think they only have mincemeat. No crust. I’m just guessing here.

I haven’t had any chocolate since the Sky Pie visit. Sure, I could get it if I wanted, but I better not. See? Even as an adult, there are so many restrictions. And, not just in food.

Last weekend Kay took me to Penney’s to get me some clothes. She does that now again. We get ready to go somewhere and she takes one look at me and says, “We’ve gotta get you some new clothes.” It’s weird.

So, we’re in JC’s where we walk past a whole array of neat men toys. One was a ping-pong set. It had a net, paddles… and I don’t remember what else. I just remember that it said you could hook the net up to any table. ANY table. I’ve got an any table! A big one in the dining room.

I caught up with Kay and dragged her buns back to the ping-pong set. It was only $10, maybe $15. Price was not the deal buster. When I explained that we could play ping-pong on the dining room table, Kay told me she had two words for me. “China cabinet.” Oh, and she added two more. “No way.”

So, there you have it. I’m grown. In fact, I’m past grown. I’m in the state of negative growth. Yet, during the entire growing process, I’ve been unable to do, buy or eat whatever I want.

And, here’s the rub. It’s not a matter of someone forcibly keeping me from doing or getting what I want. It’s me trying to be responsible. I’ve met the enemy and it be me. Oh, and Kay. I forgot to count her. It’s not fair. Nothing fair about it.

Life? There’s always something. And, then you’re in diapers… again. I’m thinking mid-July.

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