Rice Crispy Treats on Scifi Sundays

February 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Posted in spiritual rantings | Leave a comment

A small town in more innocent days was a fine place to grow up. Children were free to wander and explore, without many of the fears we have these days. I took full advantage of such freedoms. Any one’s back yard was everyone’s backyard. I could be away from home for hours and, although I was out of my parents’ sight, the watchful eyes of a caring community would protect me.

However, this was not a life without rules. “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am” were among the required dialog, but I understood why and truly felt the delivery of respect such words imply. Politeness was a necessity, glue that kept neighbors and friends at peace, but these gestures were never a struggle, never done without feeling. The spirit of sharing lit the town in ways that sunlight never could yet I was never to actually ask for anything from a neighbor. It all had to be offered first, whether it was a glass of water, the use of a phone to call home, cookies from a newfound recipe or, even, Rice crispie treats..

Perhaps, it was a gimmick to get housewives to try something new for sprucing up homemade desserts or just a wild idea by some marketing specialist in a high-rise office many miles away. The world had suffered with plain cereal long enough. No more s’mores of brown and white. The Waldorf salads just weren’t colorful enough. There just had to be a way to make a mug of hot chocolate look prettier and nothing could stop the inevitable. The recipes were on the shelves in Back water, North Carolina, and they were all the rage, why everyone was making them.

I was eight at the time and often went to the mayor’s house to play basketball. We had a yard of our own, but ours had sand and grass for a court, while the mayor’s was paved with concrete. I really don’t remember the mayor at all. I suppose he was always off doing whatever it was that mayors do. There was a son or two, but they were older and friends of my brothers. The lady of the house, Mrs. McNeil, was always home. She was one of the many adopted grandmothers a young child acquires in a small town. Anyone over 60 and friendly became an automatic grandparent. It may or may not have been a law back then, but it probably should be on the books today.

From a young boy’s point of view, it would be difficult to describe Mrs. McNeil. At that age, everyone is either young or old. It isn’t a disrespectful perception, but rather a child’s way of comparative thinking, categorizing people by groups for future reference. Mrs. McNeil fit into the “old” category, in a sweet and affectionate way. She was just a nice old lady.

One particular day, I’d been playing basketball by myself when she asked me if I’d like to come inside for something to drink. The kitchen welcomed me in with a strangely pleasant combination of cinnamon, cooked beef and floral scents that only works in a setting like this. It was a beautiful place with detailed, hand carved cabinets, antique tables and sense of importance. I’d been in this room many times before and every time it seemed new, as if you could only take a fraction of it in with each visit. With all the stains and varnishes, the room had a rich, brown hue, but on that day, something broke the color pattern. On one of the many countertops, was a plated piled pretty with rice crispie treats. My eyes widened at the amazing sight. It was almost magical. Marshmallows weren’t among my favorite treats, but these puffy, crispy treats were something, and I just knew they had to be special. Surely, Mrs. McNeil recognized their beauty and made them on this particular day, they must be very special, after all her husband was the mayor, almost royalty.

“Aren’t those cute?” she asked, looking back as she stirred something on the stove. She walked over and held the plate of Heaven up before my delighted eyes, as if to let a better light reflect off of it. “Who would have thought of such a thing?”

She had seen the look in my eyes. Why was she taunting me? Maybe she wasn’t so nice after all. I finished my water, thanked her, and headed for the door.

“Wait,” she called out.

A few minutes later, I walked in the front door of my own home, with a basketball under one arm and a bag of Rice Crispy treats clinched in the other hand. Supper was cooking, and my mother stopped me as I walked through the house evading the tugging and pulling of my brother’s and
sister’s little hands, wanting to know what I had in the bag.

“Their all mine.” I yelled at my little brother, and gave him a shove to reinforce my statement.

“What’s that?” she asked, looking at the bag filled with my heart’s desire.

“Rice Cripsy Treats,” I replied proudly, lifting the bag high into the air. “Mrs. McNeil gave them to me.”

“Did you ask for those?” she interrupted, angrily.

“No, ma’am,” I answered, but it was too late. She surely thought that no one could possibly hand out something as rare and special as these treats, unless someone asked for them.

“You can’t go around asking for things like that!”

“Yes, ma’am”.

“You wanted them,” she said, “so I guess you can have those instead of supper. All of them!”

It seemed like a great idea at the time. What kind of punishment was this? These were rice crispy treats, lots of them, 22 of them, wow what a meal I thought. This was just like giving Charlie the key to the chocolate factory. I sat down at the dinner table and started gobbling down rice crispy treats, before she had a chance to change her mind. I was the luckiest kid in the world.

But something strange happened about halfway through my dinner. The magic began to disappear, the treats didn’t seem so unique anymore and now were harder to chew than shoe leather. . It became painful to finish the 10 or so that were still on the plate. I remember sobbing as I ate the last ones, not from the punishment but rather the disappointment. I was sickened by the sweetness, and now they were hard and no longer enjoyable.

My eyes were bulging by the time I filled my mouth with the last dreadful bite of Rice crispy Treats. I swore to whatever God might be that I would never eat another Rice crispy treat again in my life.. My stomach was distended and if someone lit a match under my butt It would have
become a blow torch.

I was holding my stomach and crying, My dad was taunting me, “You’re going to need your
stomach pumped for sure” He giggled.

But instead Mama grabbed the enema bag, “This is what happens when you beg for food.” “This is what
happens when you don’t share.” She beamed at me.

After shoving those ‘treats’ down my throat, and then getting an enema shoved up my ass, I knew there
was a lesson for me somewhere in all of this. A Treat can be very deceptive

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