Wednesday, March 12, 2014

131. Candy

I am standing in the candle aisle of the grocery store, my arms crossed, my eyes quickly scanning the shelves. I have grown so accustomed to recognizing the colors and fonts of the things I like that it takes mere seconds for me to be able to make a decision. I purse my lips together and make a small huff sound, as though being sassy at the shelving is going to make it magically produce what I'm looking for. But it doesn't work. The store just doesn't have big enough bags of candy to justify the cost.

Leaving the store, I head over to an empty spot in the parking lot where several other hikers are sitting in a semi circle. There is a silent ritual going on, where everyone is emptying their food from its original packaging into more practical ziploc bags. There are plastic bags and packaging everywhere, and it looks a little like christmas morning. It's a contained sort of chaos though, and everyone is so mindful of picking up every tiny piece of trash they create.

I drop my pile of groceries to the ground, feeling a little dejected. I am about to sit down when I see a pharmacy a couple hundred feet away. Not willing to give up so easily, I grab a few loose dollars and jog across the parking lot into the Rite Aid. Once inside I head directly to the candy aisle, hoping against hope that I will actually find what I want.

The shelves are completely empty.

There are a few battered bags of black licorice, but otherwise, nothing. I hang my head, knowing that I will have to just survive until the next resupply point without any candy. A red-shirted employee walks by and asks me if I need any help finding things.

"Oh," I say sadly, "I was just hoping for some candy."

"We're remodeling, and we're trying to get rid of all of our candy stock. It's in that back corner, and the large pound-bags are only $1.50," he gestures vaguely toward one corner of the store, but it's too late, because I'm already halfway down the aisle, doing that weird fast-walk-skip thing that people do when they actually want to run but think it would be rude given the location.

I turn a corner and find a pile. Literally a pile of candy bags. I crouch down, my eyes glittering like Nicolas Cage's eyes glittered over the Declaration of Independence. I grab a pound bag of Sour Patch Kids and a pound bag of Skittles, clutching them to my chest and promising to love them forever, at least until I'm finished eating them.

I get back to the pack of hikers in the parking lot just as Grim exits the grocery store. He has the same look that had been on my face minutes before. The look of disappointment.

"All they had was chocolate bars," he says in a deflated sort of way. "Is it too much to ask to just have some Skittles?"

"No sir!" I declare triumphantly, and tell him about the candy bag pile in Rite Aid. Without explaining himself, he turns back around, goes back into the grocery store, goes to the customer service cashier, returns all of the candy that he had purchased approximately 45 seconds previously, comes back out into the parking lot and bee-lines it to the Rite Aid. We started out the trail with trail mix, until we realized all we really wanted was the M & M's. And then we just quit beating around the bush and succumbed to buying giant bags of candy at every re-supply stop. I'm sure it's not healthy, but when you're in the woods, you don't have a whole lot of other methods of concrete motivational rewards.

The next day I am halfway up a mountain, feeling exhausted and hot. I stop and reach into a zippered pocket of my backpack, producing one of the many ziploc bags of tooth-rotting confections. I sit down on a rock and hold up a Sour Patch Kid to my face, looking at it carefully. It looks back at me, or rather, it's weird squished semi-face makes a vague approximation of looking back at me.

"Hello there," I say to it.

"I know we may just have met, but you are going to be my personal trainer. I am going to eat you, and then I am going to finish hiking up this mountain. You get nothing in return, except that you get to fulfill your purpose. Thank you for your sacrifice, weird little sugar man."

I gingerly place the piece of gummy sour candy on my tongue, and let it dissolve for a few seconds, enjoying the hypnotic, zen moment. Then, with my eyes still closed, I stuff my hand back in the ziploc bag and grab a fistfull of sour patch kids and jam them all into my mouth. It's way more than should be eaten at a time, and it feels a little bit like trying to chew a big wet sock. But it is oddly satisfying. I generally do not abide chewing like a dinosaur, but if there's no one around to hear it, it doesn't really make a sound.

Clever Girl


  1. Remember how happy we were when we got a box of JuJuBees and it said "Serving Size: 55"? And...your fillings pulled out for free! Love, Mom and Dad

  2. One of my favorite things about hiking. I can eat all the candy I want.