I sit in the kitchen reading the Vermont Country Store catalogue. It’s an Easter issue, and all the candy is in the front. Remember the revelation of ‘chocolate for breakfast’? This Easter, you can enjoy chocolate with your morning coffee when you sink your teeth into these thick, rich bars. Decorated with wrappers inspired by vintage artwork. Six 2.1 oz premium chocolate bars. $14.95.
I used to, maybe, care about the way things looked. When you’re young, it’s like that. You get prettied up to get gotten, and what? My husband got, then he stopped. I still bake and eat my box-cakes. No presentation or discretion.
If instead I order a one-pound bag of classic candy mix for the same price, I could share the candy, maybe pour it into a dish. Or, I could eat the whole bag. Just a plain bag. Much more understandable than eating six fancy chocolate bars.
But I don’t have to explain this to him or to anyone, not even myself, I know.
The woman on the order hotline seems unphased. How many bars? I ask. What kind? Like I want her to tell me. Like I don’t know. She seems happy to answer, like I am happy to ask. A mirror.
I ask her to send me a 12-ounce chocolate brick. She laughs.
I laugh too. Another mirror.
I hang up, and it hits me: all the candy in the Vermont Country Store comes in quantities large enough to share. I think for a moment that maybe eating a quanitity large enough for a group makes me feel less lonely, and that eating for groups is a trick that I play. The trick does not work, but it is a clever one. Another mirror. Maybe another joke.
If I cared more about the wrapping. If my husband is right. If I am, as he puts it, out of control. If I were accountable for someone other than myself, and if someone other than myself were accountable for me.
Malted milk eggs in a pink crystal bowl. Treat your family to the best. As they’re sold? $14.95 by the pound. Jesus. Maybe the bars were a mistake. But this ad doesn’t consider my Easter morning, how I’ll be alone, sipping coffee. It doesn’t offer the alternative I’ve seized: that for one morning, or on six different mornings, I will sink my teeth into richness.
Do I want to be the kind of woman who likes the decorative wrapping? Isn’t wrapping just a distraction? Something that, at it’s best, both delays and heightens pleasure, and that can, at its worst, mock the giving, make a fool of the giver? But I do like looking at the pictures. Candy always looks pretty for the pictures.
Carly Susser is a teaching fellow in the PhD creative writing program at the University of North Texas. She received a BA and MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her prose and poetry have appeared in journals including Word Riot, Flatbush Review, Sweet Tree Review, Luna Luna, and Yes, Poetry. Her animated film collaboration won first prize in Moving Words 2017. She is a teaching artist at Arts By The People, a non-profit organization in Morristown, New Jersey, where she is also the editor-in-chief of the Platform Review.