A doughnut sang me a song this morning. It had a lovely voice.
Actually, I'm not sure if it was the doughnut or the sugar, or both, but it was effective and soon we had a trio going. I always end up singing lead in these little productions but I'll hum the tune all alone when I step on the scale tomorrow. I'd like to say I just don't know how this happened but I have EVERY idea how it happened.
Sugar signed on as my paramour very early on and I encouraged all courting. We'd break up occasionally but this marriage of passion caused us to work things out quickly. I did get wiser as time went on and finally asked for a divorce. But it seems we're very modern and it has remained way too friendly between us. Bitterness would have been better.
I started out with hope. I was a proud, defiant, skinny-little-anorexic-anemic when I was four. I ruled over food and threatened to pummel it if it got near my mouth. I endured needle jabs to check iron levels, ominous threats, and enemy attacks in the form of spankings in the food wars, but I remained steadfast until one day: I discovered candy at the corner liquor store. Ah, Dominic's Liquor. The siren's call to the local drunks and willing children with left-over coins from our mothers' cast off purses.
It was down the block and across Blackstone Avenue. We navigated the streets regularly, my sister and I, along with the other neighborhood addicts. In the summer our bare feet would be dyed with road grime and we'd choose the painted white lines of the crosswalk to avoid third degree burns from the fry-an-egg asphalt. My heart would flutter a little when Dominic's would loom into view with its welcoming double-doors thrown open wide. What could compete with the cool, loamy smelling, darkened interior of booze and Sugar Babies? The Jim Beam decorator bottles of cars and horses and ladies in skirts were almost as enticing as the row of Necco's wafers, candy cigarettes, tiny wax soda bottles full of dyed sugar water, and little chocolate babies you could chew up. But sleeves of Sixlets and our day-long attractions, Big Hunks, were calling and we rushed to answer.
My best friend of this era was Jackie Doke. For the first six years of my life we lived directly across the street from each other. She was also brazen in her search for the sugar high. She was allowed to walk to the ice-cream store alone. One day she came strolling down the street with two dripping cones, one in each hand. What did she need two cones for? I tried to wheedle one out of her. She must have been anticipating this attack and planning her move. She'd give me one, she said, for a price. Go find something I knew she wanted and the ice-cream was mine. I rushed through my front door and dashed around my room quickly weighing my options. Not the white stuffed cat with the blue glass eyes....my now estranged father had given that to me......hmmm, it would have to be the three-foot-tall walking doll. Yes, that was it. We struck a deal, I ate the ice-cream, and the doll was gone. Jackie's mother, Juanita, called a short time later to return my plastic pseudo-child but my mother was resolute: a deal's a deal. It wasn't my birthright, as with Esau and Jacob, but I did regret it for a long time after my sugar stupor wore off. Jackie and ice-cream will be forever etched in my memory with a near DNA link.
I sometimes wonder, as I look back, if I loved certain people for who they were or for the treats they offered. The two were often inextricable. My paternal grandmother, Nana, always kept a huge bowl of M&M's on her table. The estranged father's future mother-in-law (I KNOW), Ola May, would buy me sweet bananas, which I craved as though I were King Kong. I hope I at least said hello to both of these old ladies as I eyed the objects of my gustatory heaven.
But doughnuts, oh my, they came looking for ME. By the time I was eight we were living in the Projects; that run down part of town relegated to the down-on-your-luck, prostitutes, and drug users. I fit right in. For a nickel I could savor my way into another world. The "Doughnut Man" drove a slow moving truck that steamily idled its way through the neighborhood on cold, foggy mornings. When he spied you he would stop, open the big doors on the back, and slide out steaming trays of fresh, glazed doughnuts. The taste would never be equaled in all my future doughnut exploits and the intoxicating fragrance drifting off those trays will linger forever. I was always and only a nickel away from euphoria.
So, maybe it was all of those things coming back to me this morning as I left a 7am appointment feeling entitled to some sort of reward for due diligence and grown-up responsibility. I knew those were the thoughts of a fool but fools do fool themselves and listen to siren songs. And shouldn't you keep your friends close and your enemies closer? I wonder if a lifetime on your gut is close enough.