Monday, March 5, 2012

The art of eating ice candy

Last week, after maybe twenty years or so, I tried eating ice candy. It wasn't even the homemade sort; I'd bought it after lunch from a Fruitas kiosk at the Eastwood Mall. The stifling summer heat had suddenly come, and I wanted something cold and refreshing.

It took a few bites before I could tear open the plastic with my teeth, much to the amusement of my friend Eric. Bite it at the sides, he told me at one point, the plastic is weaker there. I found myself thinking, now would be a great time to have a pair of scissors.

This is one of the signs I've turned into an adult: something as simple as tearing open a childhood delight has turned into an elaborate process. I normally pride myself in considering, as much as a right-brained person can, the next few steps forward, but how much joy am I losing now that I can't even eat ice candy without worrying about getting my hands sticky?

Eric said that when he was young his mother pointed out that the plastic containing the ice candy was dirty. I remember my mother saying the same thing, but I also remember not caring. The ice kills the germs, I reasoned out to myself, or, if I get sick, my body can take it. Surely nobody dies of eating ice candy?

What did I know as a child that didn't reach the conclusion of invincibility? Fueled by reason that life could only be good to me, I climbed the village water tank to wait all night for the sunrise. I sprinkled alchohol on the floor and traced it with fire because I enjoyed the beauty of the flames. I drank water from a banana tree trunk because my brothers and I had seen it on TV. I drank ice water and ate ice candy and stuffed the plastic, clean or dirty, in my mouth!

Now the adult in me cringes at the thought of all the germs I've survived and is trying to remember if I'd packed the wet wipes. The child that I was would be sad at how... serious I've become.

Oh, but last week, I slowly relearned the art of eating ice candy! I was reminded that it was not about germs and sticky fingers, that it was about the summer sweet that is my sure reward when I break through the plastic.