Sugar compelled us. We were sugar sniffing girls, alert to its presence in any form and prepared to work with raw materials to get it closer to the treat format. At the same time, we were practical about it, taking it, if need be, straight up from the bag or dissolving it in water. We were wide open.
We figured out that if you are in the treat manufacturing business, advance planning is a useful skill set and a necessary one in the creation of popsicles, which was our plan one morning having recognized the transformational potential of our morning’s allotment of orange juice. We giddily forestalled the deliciousness, instead carefully placing a spoon in the itty bitty juice glasses of bygone days, then nestling our popsicle molds securely in a make-shift corral of frozen vegetables.
That day, as it turned out, Amy went to school and I stayed home. I’m not sure why other than staying home is a delightful, private adventure, the opportunity to play entirely by one’s own rules. The day was mine after skillfully passing a thermometer very close to a lightbulb several times.
I set about all of my favorite indoor activities. I melted some crayons over a lightbulb, once again exploiting this miraculous invention’s multi-functional ability, having observed how it could provide light and also bake cake in an Easy Bake Oven. I investigated secrets in my parents’ bedroom, looking in drawers, checking to see if Dad had forgotten to take the change out of the suit coat slung over the chair. I read to my heart’s content. I browsed my parents’ bookshelves to see if there was any dirty stuff, though I would have been horrified to find Playboys like the frat boys who lived a few houses down the street finally agreed to bring forward after much pestering on our part and which a neighbor kid’s father kept, disturbingly it occurs to me now, in a school bus curiously parked in back of their house. I scoured the pantry and the refrigerator for anything resembling junk food with zero expectation of finding any, hence the popsicle project, but I scoured anyway.
By early afternoon it occurred to me that our popsicles might be ready. Upon checking I found they were. Rapidly following the discovery, however, was a dilemma. Eat mine or wait for Amy? In that we’d gone into this as a team, I sensed an implied contract to finish the venture off as a team. Still, one was mine and mine alone. And it was every bit as good as we were counting on them being.
After enjoying my popsicle I did some aimless wandering, all my private entertainment plans used up. The day was getting long. There would be a good hour before anyone would come along to break up my boredom. The only thing occupying my mind at that point was Amy’s popsicle. I went out to the kitchen to have a look. Yes, it was there, Amy’s pleasure still ahead.
I did some more wandering, now accompanied by the constant call of the popsicle. I went back to check on Amy’s popsicle multiple times, each new look blurring the line dividing me and the popsicle a little more, just like the invisible line running down the center of the double bed we would share, shockingly, all the way through college. I found the popsicle line not to be all that solid; in fact, mostly imaginary as in bed.
Amy’s popsicle was every bit as good as mine.
Then things got uncomfortable. Now what? I doubled down in strategy mode and came up with a fast plan: the freezer would become a store and I a regular customer. No, a very good customer. I would purchase Amy’s popsicle at a premium. Make that a ridiculous premium. All that was needed now was to quickly gather up my money.
As it happened I was a little cash poor but, Amy’s lucky payday, Dad’s pocket was loaded.
I decided to go big and celebratory, make a real event out of the occasion. When Amy came through the door I flung the change up in the air to shower over her head.
“Congratulations! You’re rich, you’re rich!” I screamed out.
This did not see her scrambling to claim her wealth first, ask questions later as I had hoped for, so I went ahead and explained that the freezer was now a store and that she’d made out like a bandit with the price her popsicle had fetched! And the kicker? She could be eating a popsicle as soon as tomorrow afternoon because there would be a fresh glass of orange juice to work with in the morning!
The look on her face passed quickly through suspicion to disbelief to contempt. Then she walked away.
What else was there for me to do but get down on my hands and knees and scrabble about for loose change?
So this is who you are, I thought for the next 48 years.
Amy: my long-abiding sister and lifelong cohort has no memory of the popsicle event nor considers herself above the compromising seduction of sugar, with banana ice cream and cheap boxed chocolates having been at the top of her list.
The stories in this blog are excerpts from my memoir, The Organization Project. While they are true to me and reflect how I see, I acknowledge there are multiple truths, including my own which change over time, even as the events themselves remain the same, whatever they were. What I make of an event 5 years out may not be what I make of it 10 years out or 50 years out. And, of course, those who appear in the story may see it in an entirely different way than I do or did.