Is it just me or are they stuffing fewer and fewer chocolate-covered almonds into those door-to-door peddled boxes these days? Perhaps I am just siphoning nostalgia back from the days when we sold actual chocolate bars.
I was at my parents’ house the other day when I heard a rapping, rapping at the chamber door. It was an eight-year-old boy who reminded me of Gil, the hopeless salesman from The Simpsons.
Only this kid had his shit down. He immediately launched into his sales speech, waxing rhetoric about how not only was this money going to charity (which charity, I’m still not sure), but it was also teaching children such as himself the value of hard work and entrepreneurship. I was too shocked to counter-argue.
The experience simply washed over me and all I could do was feebly hand over my purse like an old lady being swindled into buying a thousand dollar vacuum cleaner.
I paid five dollars for a three dollar box of almonds. No idea how that happened.
But it got me thinking.
I reached into the dark recesses of my childhood and pulled out one of the happiest moments–nay, THE happiest moment–of my young life.
You see, I was once a young, naive chocolate-peddler myself.
We were coerced by the promise that at the end of what can only be described as a Fundraiser / crash-course in Wall Street Economics, there was a yet-to-be-announced prize for the kid who sold the most chocolate bars in that fiscal quarter.*
Since my mom took my box of treatsies to work and pawned them off to dentists and their ilk, I was in the running.
Then came the day to announce the winner.
The principal came into our classroom…
My eight-year-old heart was all aflutter.
He said that the winner was… a GIRL…
Heart beating a little faster.
He said that the winner’s name started with an “A”…
My heart was visible beneath my skin.
THE WINNER WAS ME.
MY HEART RIPPED ITSELF FROM MY CHEST LIKE THAT DUDE IN INDIANA JONES AND SMOTHERED THE PRINCIPAL WITH KISSES.**
And my prize…?
If you are astute enough to guess from the title, it was a five-pound chocolate bar.
I was only a wee thing back then, but I remember the thing being the size of my small body. It seemed like something tourists would stop and take photographs of.
It barely fit in our fridge.
My parents were wise enough to try to enforce rations: “Only one segment a day.”
It was a nightmare. It was the torture device that is Christmas advent calendars, but far, far worse.
In my pre-adolescent mind, I equated the five-pound chocolate bar with a heaven where I sailed a chocolate boat on a river of Cadbury’s Creme Egg filling. And the only thing keeping me from attaining heaven here on Earth were these damned rations. The rations were nothing; they were peering through a window, foggy with my own naive breath, onto a heaven out of reach; they were gazing with unquenchable desire upon pure, unfettered joy.
Now, I know what you are expecting. That my parents came in one day to find me hovering under the dining room table, belly engorged, face covered in melted milk chocolate, wrappers and foil in shreds around me, moaning and remorseful.
I was well-behaved. I accepted my lot, wandering each morning to my mother with pitiful doe-eyes, begging in vain like Oliver Twist.
But I was not stupid.
One morning after the chocolate win, I gleefully ran to the fridge, ready to partake of my candy-coated ration as soon as possible. I knew that from this moment onwards, the rest of the day was all downhill, but I just could not restrain myself. I had my ration and I burned for it!
I threw open the door, giddy and sick with the morning’s anticipation.
Each morning was like Christmas, but better. I earned this.
But then I noticed something was amiss.
For how long these shenanigans had been going on, I was not sure.
But I was angry.
The paper had been carefully trimmed back and the foil neatly folded back into place. It was as if my parents assumed my eight-year-old brain would be too dazzled by the prospect of the chocolate, to hungry and sick for my fix, that I would not notice they had been skimming off their cut of the prize.***
This was tatamount to cold-hearted betrayal. A knife not only stuck in the back, but twisted cruelly. This was treason.
My prize! Pillaged!
It took this exercise in the aforemention Wall Street Economics to the logical conclusion. The banks just went under. To my eight-year-old self, my parents were the greedy corporate swine, the Gordon Gekkos of my innocence. It was injustice at its most pure.
To this day, I can’t save chocolate.
*The “fiscal quarter” qualifier was not official, though I’m sure, for tax reasons, incredibly valid.
**Not actually true.
***Granted, they were the ones who did the majority of the prize-winning chocolate sales, but, seriously… I was eight.