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By Cora Ann Metz


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Growing older is inevitable; growing up is selective. To make my life’s journey more enjoyable, I take the time to recall some of my most cherished childhood memories, which most often make me smile or even laugh out loud.

A special song or an old television show still has the magic to induce mental replays of some of my best moments. Even certain foods possess the power to take me back to those blissful times. Remember those soft oatmeal cookies the size of a Frisbee? I could buy two of those for just a nickel. But cookies are not the only treasures that I fondly recall. Bazooka Bubble Gum resides in a special corner of my heart too. It took me half a day to chew out the sweetness to get my pink piece down to the right consistency. Then, I would blow the biggest bubble, which always popped and covered a major portion of my face. I was so proud of that. I could entertain myself for hours with a pack of candy cigarettes and those silly waxed lips. And those colorful jawbreakers the size of golf balls! I still wonder how the heck I got one in my mouth and sucked on it all day long without choking myself to death. While these memories dance around in your head, I will share my recent experience about a single purchase, which took me on a wonderful trip down my childhood memory lane.

As I was leaving one of my favorite stores just across the French border, I stopped at an Imbiss near the exit door. This compact cafe regularly buzzes with an eclectic mix of shoppers and locals alike, some deep in lively conversations; others just chillin’ in solitude. Most are smokers who contribute to the thick haze constantly hovering around the tables. But the annoying second-hand smoke never deters me from making a quick stop to get a bite to eat.

That day, something new caught my eye in the bakery section; something I had not seen since I was a kid. Nestled between stacks of bulky sandwiches and layers of fresh beignets (French donuts) lay rows of candied apples coated with that unmistakable sticky red syrup! Real red candied apples on a Popsicle stick! Though I had spent a bundle shopping for my wants and needs, I wanted and needed one of those red candied apples.

Luckily finding some extra change in my purse, I hurried over to the counter to buy one. Actually, I bought two and could hardly restrain myself from nibbling on one during my drive back to Germany.

After arriving home and unloading my car, I focused on my two prized purchases: my red candied apples. Cradling one in my hand, I carefully peeled off its waxed paper. I opened my mouth as wide as I could and being careful not to dislocate my jaw, I held it steady before sinking my teeth firmly into a sizeable portion of the crunchy red coating. I almost chipped a tooth, but I happily risked a trip to the dentist because that first chunk worked its magic.

After that first bite, I was five years old again, sitting on my backyard porch, barefoot and carefree on a sunny summer Saturday morning, savoring the taste of my red candied apple. Each subsequent bite tenderly entertained my taste buds with a perfect combination of the crunchy red cinnamon coating and the slightly tart apple. With each chew, I could hear the symphonic crunch of this sugary musical mixture in my head.

Yet my work was still cut out for me. Finishing this jewel from my childhood came with a messy price. Jagged fragments of the sticky coating stuck between my teeth and gradually formed an uneven red rim around my mouth. I knew I resembled a circus clown in training, but I didn’t care. As a kid, "Getting into my food" was the only way I knew of how to eat anything this good, so I kept munching away, even humming a nonsensical tune as I progressed.

Unfortunately, the warm weather worked against me. Halfway through my sweet feast, the crunchy red coating started to melt and its juice trickled down my hand to my forearms, just as it did when I was a kid. God, that felt good, but I knew that I looked a mess as most kids do when tackling such sweet treats. I smiled as I recalled voraciously tackling huge slices of succulent watermelon or racing to finish a quickly melting two-scoop ice cream cone with much less success. Back then, depending on my degree of ‘damage,’ my mom would lovingly clean me up with a warm cloth or hose me down in the back yard before letting me back in the house. Since mom is no longer here, I would have to clean myself up---later.

Hanging on to these delightful memories, I closed my eyes and continued to nibble my little red gem down to its core. Mentally, I wondered if I should attack the second one, risk spoiling my dinner and having the syrupy coating permanently rim my mouth in red for the rest of the day. Actually, being a kid again made my decision easy.


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