I come from a middle class, blue collar background. My Dad was a resteraunt owner, and later, a postal worker. We were never “rich”, nor did we own our own home, but on the other hand, I ate Filet Mignon three times a week, did not know what “left-overs” were, was adequately clothed, and I was the envy of every child come Christmas time. As the only child, and “Daddy’s Little Girl”, there was not a toy or kiddie product advertised that I didn’t receive in any given year.
I didn’t really see my Dad too much when he worked for the Post Office, at least for the first few years. He was a “sub”, and the hours varied wildly. When he was home, I was admonished to “SSshhhh!!! Be quiet, your Daddy’s sleeping”. So, I had no friends come over to visit, and I kept a low profile…usually spent reading a favorite Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twin book in my room. But, come Sunday…Oh boy! That was me and Daddy’s Day together! I would eagerly anticipate a fun day spent with the one man I dearly adored above all others….My Daddy, the “light of my life”.
Daddy had his morning routine, as do most Daddies. After his shower, he would carefully lather up, and I would stand slightly behind him, to his left, and emulate his every move, his every facial expression, as he carefully shaved the stubborn Greek stubble that is the bane of any man of Mediterranean descent. With his hair still wet from the shower, he would carefully comb some Vitalis through his enviously thick, Greek head of hair, and I would mimic his grimace from the sting of whatever it was that he would use as an aftershave lotion. Then, with his hand in his right pocket, I would hear the constant jingling of change and keys, as he would pace around the apartment for fifteen minutes, while he decided the next course of action. The first big decision would be, “Where to go for breakfast”. White Rose? IHOP? Hit our NJ route 9 and head South to the shore? I never knew in advance. Every Sunday was a new surprise! After breakfast, there would be another new fun quest….do we go to the park, and throw a ball around? Maybe we’ll take the Staten Island Ferry into NY and stroll around, enjoying the solitude of the business section. Perhaps visit one of his many best friends? How ’bout we just go feed the ducks at the local pond?….
Or simply stroll around the neighborhood and go
“What? Trash picking???” as most people might sneer in disgust. Well, sure! Why not? Many a book, with just it’s front cover torn off, was put out, that we proudly presented Mother with on our return home. A voracious reader, she cared little for it’s fancy front cover adornment. It was the content that intrigued her. Like a Lioness, Mother was always pleased when her two “cubs” returned with prized meat! But, we found many objects of curiosity that we would gleefully scrounge out of a pile and we could barely contain our excitement about the “find of the year”!
There was the obligatory corner candy store in our little home town. The real old fashioned kind, with a soda counter, tall, round stools, and people who knew how to make a true NY “egg cream” soda. Occasionally, this said candy store would throw out it’s old window display items. I would come home with some true treasures from this candy store. But the day my Daddy and I discovered “the frozen candy box” was a day that will live forever in my mind.
It was a thing of beauty, it was. A most delectable box of glistening assorted chocolates. I carefully lifted the lid off of the box….What an array it was! Some square, some round, brown swirls, some mounds….OH! The pure joy of finding such deliciousness put out on the pile of “trash”. I was beyond thrilled! I grabbed it and ran to Daddy….”LOOK DADDY!!!! A HUGE BOX OF CHOCOLATES!!!!!” I immediately regretted sharing my “find”, for I was already ‘brain-finagling’ how I could sneak all this wonderful candy home to eat at my leisure!
Dad was a pretty smart fella. He quickly surmised that this candy wasn’t “real”, and started poking and tapping on each and every candy to be sure that they were fake. They were! Each and every one of these succulent morsels were made of plastic. Oh, the horror! The abject horror of it all! PLASTIC!!! They were perfectly formed chocolate tidbits that teased and enticed the onlooker to enter the store and buy a box of the real thing.
I was heartbroken. Crestfallen. My anticipated solo chocolate orgy was dashed! As my chin dropped down, my lower lip quivered and my ten year old eyes welled up with tears. I looked up at Daddy. His eyes were twinkling, and he was chuckling.
“Let’s play a fun joke on Mommy”.
Daddy outlined the whole scenario:
“We’ll tell Mommy that these are ‘frozen candies’ and that she has to keep them in the refrigerator to defrost slowly, so that they don’t turn bad”.
It all sounded pretty good to me, and we returned home, excited again, at this new prize. I remember Mom listening to Dad explain about these “candies” and what to do with them. Dutiful wife that she was, she took what he told her to do to heart. Into the refrigerator they went.
Every day, I observed my Mother, going into the refrigerator, and open the box of chocolates. She would lift the lid, and with the tip of her fingernail, gently tap the tops of a few chocolates. Feeling that they were still hard and “frozen”, she would return the box to the frig. Dad’s sweet tooth was reknowned in our family circle, and Mother was to inform him as soon as they were ready to eat. At least three times a day, she was poking at these candies.
It was about a week and a half later. As usual, Mom was in the kitchen, Pop was relaxing on the couch in the living room, and one room over, I was in my bedroom. Out of the relative quietness of the apartment, I heard my Mother’s voice hollering to beat the band,
“LOOOOUIEE!!!! OH FOR GOD’S SAKE………….LOU!!!!!”
It was nearly an hour before my Dad calmed down long enough to stop laughing, and once Mother stopped weeping, it was even funnier!
You know. until the day she died, I don’t believe that Mother ever looked at a box of chocolates the same way again.