Wife and I grew up on the same street in Kearns, Utah.
When our parents moved there, it was a neighborhood on the Utah Wasatch Front West Side (throws up a sign) where they built a bunch of starter homes that new families could buy on the cheap. By the the time ten years had passed, things had gone very, very downhill. Most of the young new families had moved on to greener, East-side pastures, leaving those of us who stayed to fend for ourselves. Let’s just say that the peaceful haven that was the neighborhood when I went to elementary school had shifted a great deal. When I got to high school, our neighborhood was so riddled with gangs, or at least the rumor of gangs, that when I went to other schools for orchestra stuff and for other really cool reasons like that, I was often asked “so, do you guys have metal detectors at the entrance of your school?”
Yeah. Kearns is the fricking HOOD. As you can see I’m a nerdy, orchestral gang-banger. What, you thought there was a violin in this violin case? Ha, think again, sucker. I’m about to bust a cap. (Pulls out a semi-automatic weapon)
(It’s likely that I should never try to speak gang-banger again. That probably won’t stop me, though.)
Some examples of how crazy it got. 1. There was a lot of tagging with graffiti. Often, it happened on the fence of our front yard. 2. My next door neighbor was in his house minding his own business when he heard a weird pop, and something came through the drywall. It was a bullet. 3. The year after I moved, I was sitting in newspaper class with somebody who was researching gangs outside of California, and the article from the Oregonian we were looking at featured my high school, Kearns High.
Anyway, surprisingly, this post isn’t about gangs or how gangsta I am at heart because of my West Side upbringing. It’s about Wife and me, and our crazy food throwbacks from the days when sugared cereal was something that only happened on birthdays or Christmas, and chips didn’t come in individualized bags but had to be rationed out like soup at a soup kitchen, and candy bars were something we went to bed dreaming about in that distant “what if I were a king and lived in a castle, maybe I can become a rock star when I grow up, and maybe I’ll get a candy bar some day” kind of way.
Examples of weird post-Kearns poor-kid behavior:
1. The other night, Wife and I were at a church activity. For part of this activity, kids got to hit a piñata. (Whoa, go ME for remembering the code for the ñ.) The girls loved swinging at that thing. Eventually it burst, and littered its gut of candy everywhere, and there was an immediate frenzy where all the kids got in there to gather loot, just like it woulda been back in Kearns, but then, something unsettling happened. After all the good stuff was taken–the mini candy bars, and the suckers, and whatever else–all the kids just… left. And there on the floor was a pile of candy. Perfectly good candy. Like Smarties, and Tootsie rolls, and candy necklaces, and crystal meth. (That last one was a gratuitous lie to see if you were paying attention. Remember, this wasn’t Kearns.)
Anyway, Wife and I both looked at each other with a baffled expression, like “did that group of kids not NOTICE that there’s still a pile of candy right there? Why haven’t their greedy, poor-kid hands scooped it up in a frenzy reminiscent of fighting hyenas after a wildebeest kill?” Then we remembered: we’re not in Kearns. Up here, kids don’t give a crap about smarties. Kids feel insulted by smarties. Smarties are a sad, sad attempt at being sweet and delicious, and the kids here (including my own, tragically) walk away from a whole pile of them because they’re that bland. Anyway, that’s about the time Wife and I felt strangely compelled to swoop in like vultures and scoop it all up ourselves and start stuffing it all into our mouths so frantically we’d be taking actual bites out of the skin of our hands so we could make sure to get it in us before it disappeared, growling menacingly at anybody that got near us. It took all the strength we had to just walk away… (just walk away…walk away…*hyperventilates and growls like a rabid dog*)
2. On Halloween, when our kids are exhausted and begging to go home, Wife and I are both like “WE WILL KEEP GOING UNTIL THERE IS NO FREE CANDY LEFT ON EARTH.”
3. At buffets, Wife and I have some weird impulses. First: Eat everything now or it will disappear and never come back again. Second: Is that free self-serve ice-cream!??? (Makes four bowls and devours them in succession without blinking or tasting and swallowing only four times). Third: Oh, I’ll just save this turkey leg/scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy/tray of stuffing for later (shoves it into Wife’s purse).
4. We have a treat pantry. It is… unbelievable. It rivals Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Half of the friends we have are our friends only because they know when they come over they can raid it. But what you don’t understand is we have to have that stuff on hand, because what happens if you have a craving for a white chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter cup washed down with some Haagen Dazs dulce de leche ice cream and you don’t have any on hand????
The world literally ends in a flaming apocalypse. That’s what happens. You just don’t know it because Wife and I are smart and keep our cupboard overflowing to prevent your fiery death.
You’re welcome, planet Earth
(Wait, what? It’s not surprising to you that Wife and I both went through a fat phase? Fancy that…)