Many people are attracted to sugary treats and pick out a few things at the last minute when they pay for groceries at the supermarket. On hot summer days, many people treat themselves to a Slurpee at 7-Eleven or a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen. These things don’t often tempt me. I’m more attracted to imported cheeses and a few slices of spicy capocollo on dark rye. If push came to shove, and I had to choose some kind of snack food to watch with an episode of The Crown on Netflix, I would choose ketchup chips. For some reason, I like the odd chemical taste it leaves in the back of my throat.
When I took my youngest son to Paul’s Superette recently, I was going to stay in the car while he quickly picked up a bottle of root beer. An obscure book of poetry had arrived in the mail and I wanted a few minutes of quiet to read over the first poem.
“You can read later,” said my son. “Come in with me.”
Realizing that children are only children for a short amount of time, and that I should make the most of these little moments, I decided to join him. “Okay,” I said. “I’m coming.”
Inside, we stared at the cooler full of craft sodas and I looked over the bottles of root beer and orange pop and various-flavoured colas from small-batch soda companies. I found a bottle of sarsaparilla. “I’ve haven’t seen sarsaparilla since I was your age,” I said.
“What is sarsaparilla?” he asked.
“Actually, I don’t really know. But it tastes like root beer.”
I was transported back to my youth – a time when I spent my allowance on either candy or video games. I felt like was twelve years old again and the whole world was laid out before me. That’s when I turned around and found the candy.
I picked up a little box of Nerds and recognized the Willy Wonka font. “I didn’t know they still made this stuff. What responsible parent allows their kids to eat this stuff anymore?” I asked my son.
“I’m hoping that’s you… today… right now,” he replied.
Looking down at the Fun Dip and Pixy Stix and Fizz and Pop Rocks and cola bottle gummies, I knew there was no other option. “There really is no other option,” I said, “but to buy some candy.”
I bought all of the above and more: Runts and Gobstoppers and something new (or new to me) called Toxic Waste.
“Those are really sour,” warned my son.
“Really, really sour?” I asked.
“Yes. Just have one at a time.”
I ignored his advice and had three. He was right. They were really sour. My salivary glands protested but, after the pain subsided, I ate three more before moving on to something less abusive.
It didn’t take long to feel the effects of the sugar rush. Both of us were talking twice as fast as we normally would, and I suddenly had the urge to go for a long run or vacuum an entire apartment complex. A million thoughts were zipping around my brain.
By late afternoon, I wasn’t feeling very well. “I think I’m going to lie down for a few minutes,” I said.
“Me too,” said my son.
An hour later, when my wife came home from work at dinnertime, I confessed what we had done. “This was not my best parenting moment,” I said.
“Have either one of you had any real food today,” asked my wife.
“We had cereal for breakfast,” I said as I groaned, still in bed.
“That’s awesome,” she replied. Then she left to make dinner.
After a hearty bowl of soup and fresh bread, I spent the rest of the evening watching Netflix in bed. My wife wasn’t impressed. She didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have to.
I didn’t feel well the next morning.
“You have a sugar hangover,” said my wife.
“Is that even a thing?” I asked.
My wife looked at me in the eyes. “Yes, it is.”
“Well… that’s just stupid,” I said.
Time: 11:41 a.m.
Place: Paul’s Superette