Slow-Cooked Sentences

Candy land

Rachael Conlin Levy
Comic courtesy of exepotes

When life gets loopy, I load up on chocolate pretzels, and right now my life is one roller coaster ride.

I discovered the pretzels while shopping at Trader Joe‘s last month, and have been back twice for more. The pretzels come in either milk or dark chocolate, but I’ve grabbed bittersweet each time, and have yet to make it home without busting open the bag.

I readily admit that I’m an emotional eater — my stress level climbs and I reach for chocolate — a habit I’ve picked up from my mother. I can’t blame her. Weekly she’d shove five kids and a week’s worth of dirty clothes into the blue Oldsmobile and make the long trip to Reno. After hours at the laundromat, we’d carry out a mountain of clean, folded clothes, pile back into the car and drive home. A stop to get gas permitted her a minute out of the car without kids, and an excuse to reward herself with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which she’d sneakily eat once back on the road.

Of course, this couldn’t stay a secret for long. Even if the fighting amongst ourselves deadened our ears to the crinkling of a candy bar getting unwrapped, my younger sister’s nose could sniff out chocolate a mile away. Then we’d all pounce on my mother.

“What are you eating?”

“Nuthing,” she’d mumble back, a cheek filled with candy bar.

“Yes, you are. You’re eating something!”

Then we’d complain loudly about how unfair it was that she got a treat and we didn’t. She thwarted future coups by buying us a single bag of M&M;’s to share. For you see, we couldn’t keep an eye on her and make sure the candies were equally divided, nor could we argue with M&M;’s in our mouths. Thus she was left unobserved and in peace to secretly savor her peanut butter cups.

My own stealthy trips to my chocolate stash have increased since my mother-in-law’s arrival from Amsterdam nearly two weeks ago. Add to this stress my husband patching a hole above the stove at dinnertime, my kids running inside every 5 minutes to tattle on one another, and my baby cutting two teeth. Can you blame me for slipping into the kitchen to savor these knotted little life savers and ponder how their chaotic combination of salty, sweet and bitter is the same stuff found in tears?

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