I'm having an illicit love affair with my son's Halloween candy. Each morning when he leaves for school, I enter his room and find the blue pillowcase hiding under his desk. I delight in the Tootsie Rolls I know he doesn't like, and hope against hope that I will find a Baby Ruth that has been left behind. Today I sniff out a small box of Junior Mints which I open right away, and steal a Snickers to bolster me for my conversation with his math teacher.
When I was a child, I hid my Halloween candy because I knew my mother was eating it. I counted it every night and made notes in my diary:
M & M's (plain)---5, (peanut)----4
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups----4
My mother was never interested in Dum Dums. She was eating all my Hershey Bars, and there was no one to make her stop.
My mom grew up in a junk food-free household. My immigrant grandparents did not take food for granted, and brought those sensibilities to the grocery store. My mother recalls that when she came home from school for lunch, my grandma would sometimes serve lamb chops. No Fluffer Nutter sandwiches for her. My grandma baked pies and cakes for special occasions, but on a regular basis, my mother had no access to the sugary treats she craved.
When she became a mother, she decided to have an open pantry policy. She allowed us to eat whatever treats we wanted with the idea that if they were always available, we would not crave them the way she did. Of course there was no scientific basis for this theory, and it turned out to be completely false. My childhood breakfast was two Hostess cupcakes and a cup of hot chocolate. Things have not improved.
My doctor is in the same building as a Fannie May candy store that sells "seconds." I buy Pixies for a fraction of the regular price. Shopping there is like going to a liquor store at eight in the morning. There is no pretending when you are buying deformed Pixies that you are bringing them to your boss's house for dinner.
When I was six or seven, I came home from school and my house smelled perfect. My mother had obviously baked brownies, and the house had the warm chocolate aroma that made me forget all about my hard day in first grade. I called out to my mother to let her know I was home, and checked the kitchen counter for the brownies.
I couldn't find them anywhere, so assuming they were still in the oven, I asked my mother when they would be ready.
"What brownies?" she asked.
"The brownies that are baking," I replied.
"There are no brownies," she said.
"But I smell them!" I cried. "I smell brownies!"
"There are no brownies," said my mother without looking me in the eye.
I found some Ho-Ho's in the cabinet and poured myself a glass of milk, but I was bewildered. Maybe Mrs. Valenti next door was baking brownies. Could the smell sneak all the way over here like that? That seemed so cruel it was probably against the law.
Years later I asked my mother about the brownies--if she remembered that day. She confirmed my long held suspicion that she of course had baked brownies. Then she had eaten the whole pan.
I have become my mother and I have the thighs to prove it. I have a silver filling in every tooth in my mouth. Since I have inherited this disability, I have no confidence I will ever be cured. I have nightmares about being an obese, toothless old woman, but hope that I'll still be able to gum an occasional Marshmallow Peep.