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Sweet Tooth

Poetry & Prose | April 29, 2013

I

My mom still says candy’s bad for you, but I disagree. Candy is the best food of all time. It gives me tons of energy. It tastes good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And there are so many different types so you never get bored. She says it doesn’t have any “vitamins.” That it’s “processed.”

My mom used to keep no candy in the house. None whatsoever. There were only snacks like rice cakes or those edamame things. That’s why when I walked home from school I stocked up at the convenience store. I got 5 candy bars, M & M’s, and jellybeans and put the wrappers in my neighbor’s trash. I tried to eat it all before I got home because I never knew when my mom was there because sometimes she did yoga with Brad who lived down the street.

His daughter Liza’s my age and makes fun of me for loving candy so much. But Liza lived with her mom, so I only had to see her at school.

“What are you gonna have for lunch today? A chocolate sandwich?” she asked me.

“I don’t know. Probably,” I told her.

If my mom was home, she never knew why I had so much energy. I was so good at hiding it.

“I don’t understand how you have so much energy. Didn’t you exercise during recess and P.E.?,”

“Yeah. I’m gonna go run around the house.”

I usually ran around my house and then fell asleep. 252 laps was my record. That day I ate 16 candy bars because my grandma gave me $100 for my birthday.
When my mom came home from Brad’s house or saw me from inside she woke me up.

“Harry, wake up.”

“What?”

“You gotta stop falling asleep in the front yard.”

“Dinner’s ready?”

“No. Go do your math homework.”

Math is really easy. All you have to do is make the question about candy.

Jane has 10 dollars. She spends half of it today on eggs and a quarter of the remaining amount tomorrow on green beans. How much money does she have left after she buys the eggs and green beans?

I just switch eggs to Snickers and green beans to 3 Musketeers and then the answer is $3.75.

II

One day the convenience store was closed. I couldn’t believe it. I knocked forever, but no one answered. That was the first time since I was allowed to walk home. I could barely make it back and I only live 4 blocks from school.

When I got home, my mom wasn’t there. My whole body was twitching. I had to find candy. Here were my choices:
1) The convenience store on the other side of town. Too far for to walk to.
2) My neighbors. My mom would definitely find out.
3) My house. My mom had already thrown out everything sugary, but I decided to look anyways because I was desperate.

First I started in the kitchen. I went through the fridge, all the cabinets, and the pantry. Nothing. Then I searched in the living room and the TV room. I lifted the cushions and opened every drawer. Still nothing. Then I thought to myself, maybe my mom’s just keeping it for herself. So I went upstairs and opened my parents’ bedroom door. I looked inside and saw my mom’s purse on the bed. She always had it with her. I knew this was a sign. I went into their bedroom and unzipped it slowly.
Jackpot.

Even though it looked like underwear, I knew it was the real deal. It tasted just like Fruit Roll-Ups, but better. I didn’t understand why it was shaped like that, but I didn’t care–it was candy. I zipped her purse back up and closed the door. I didn’t have the energy to run around the house so I went to go watch TV on the couch. I was still hungry so I got some rice cakes from the kitchen. They don’t taste like cake, but I was starving so I ate 4 bags of them anyway.

My mom came home an hour later.

“Why aren’t you outside?”

“I ran a lot at school today,” I told her.

“Good. Finally they’re making you kids be active. Oh, we’re going out to dinner tonight. We have an early reservation because that was the only time they could take us. And Dad’s getting home early because of the 3 day weekend.”

This was really bad news. We usually ate dinner really late because of my dad’s job in New York City. I didn’t mind because the candy would keep me full for a while. But I knew I wasn’t gonna be hungry because of the underwear and the rice cakes.

III

We went to my favorite restaurant. They have the best pasta with red sauce in the world. And I’m always allowed dessert.

“Harry, how was school?” my dad asked me.

“It was good.”

“Learn anything?”

“Not really.”

“How was work?” my mom asked my dad.

“Fine.”

We stared at our menus.

“Harry, do you know what you want?”

“I don’t know. I’m not that hungry.”

“Not hungry? This is your favorite restaurant,” my mom said.

“Yeah, but I ate when I got home.”

“You gotta be kidding me,” my dad said. “You can’t not eat dinner.”

“I had a lot of rice cakes and some candy.”

“Candy?” my mom asked me.

“Did I say candy? I meant carrots. I had some carrots.”

I couldn’t stop thinking candy. When I don’t eat enough of it, it’s all I think about.

“Where’d you get candy?” my mom asked me.

“Nowhere. In your purse.”

“My purse? What do you mean my purse?”

I knew I couldn’t get myself out of this one.

“Um, I found some in your purse. It wasn’t a candy bar, it was like a Fruit Roll-Up, but shaped like underwear. I ate it. I messed up. I won’t do it again I promise.”

“What is he talking about?” my dad asked.

My mom’s cheeks turned as red as a Twizzler.

“I have no idea,” my mom said. “Harry, you know there would never be candy in the house.”

“And did you say underwear?” my dad asked me.

“I don’t know. It looked like underwear, but it tasted just like candy.”

My dad stared at me for a while and then looked at my mom.

“Why would that be, Julia?”

“I have no idea,” she said. “Harry’s just making this up.”

“Harry wouldn’t lie about candy.”

“Did someone say candy?” I asked them.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it,” my dad said.

I had never heard my dad curse.

“What did I say about that language in front of Harry?”

“Harry’s fine,” my dad said.

My fingers were turning into Twix bars.

“How did I not see this coming?” my dad asked her.

“What are you even talking about?” my mom asked him.

My dad slammed his fist on the table.

“Oh don’t be coy with me.”

“I’m not being coy.”

I don’t know what that means.

“Do you want me to spell it out for you?” my dad asked.

I’m also an amazing speller.

“You’re fucking Brad,”

“Richard!” my mom yelled at him.

Everyone near us turned around.

“Nothing to see here, folks. Go back to your overpriced linguini,” my dad said to everyone watching. They all turned back around.

“You’re being so inappropriate,” my mom said.

“When did it start? Let’s get it all out there.”

My legs were starting to fidget.

“Can I just order desert?” I asked them.

“No!” they shouted. They looked back at each other.

“I should’ve known,” my dad said.

“Why should you have? You only think about you,” my mom told him.

“Why Brad? What’s so great about Brad?”

“Richard, you’ll never get it.”

“I make more money. I have more hair. I have a job.”

“He listens. That’s the difference.”

“Oh he’s so sensitive right? Just because he became a yoga instructor after he was fired from his consulting firm.”

The waiter came over.

“Are you guys ready to order?”

IV

Now, I live with Brad and my mom, and my dad lives in New York. Liza comes over on weekends, but they keep some candy in the house. It’s not a bad situation.