Here I walk from the convenience store. A Willy Wonka’s Laffy Taffy in my hand. Chewing gum and packs of licorice in my left pocket and a box of Peach Candy gelatin drops in my other. I meet up with a friend of mine on my way back home. We decide to walk home together. We talk about various things, such as school or politics, and gossip about other companions of ours. Throughout our conversation he stares at the amount of candy i am holding. He tries to steer the conversation to it.
“Er…since were talking about future careers,” he says, “I was thinking that there may be some merit in you becoming a dentist.”
“Why do you say that?” I say pretending I don’t notice where this is going.
“Well, er, if you’re a dentist…then…” He says, evidently he’s stumped himself. It’s almost pitiful. I give him a nudge.
“I say I wouldn’t be able to be a dentist. You know, because of my habits?” He almost jumps at the opportunity i laid out for him.
“About that!” he says too enthusiastically, “I was wondering if…”
“You want some candy?”
“Sorry, no can do.”
“Why not? I mean, you have so much of it!”
“Well, I need it.”
“What? Why do you need it?”
“No reason, I just do.” I stare in front of me intently. I don’t want to look at him. Then, suddenly, I stop in my tracks.
“Buddy? You alright.”
We stand there for a while. Then I look up at his face.
“Have you smoked before?”
“Like, smoke. Cigarettes.”
“Well,” I say, “I did.”
“Yeah, I quit before I met you.”
“I never knew that! So now you’re, like, quitting?”
“I am. I’m a recovering smoker.”
“That’s, well, great I guess.”
“Actually, It’s pretty rough. Quitting is like nothing you’ll ever know.”
“Oh…er…and I’m guessing that…” He’s stuck again. He’s never been a great communicator.
“The candy’s what helps me get by my addiction, yes.” I say for him.
“Oh. Okay then.”
We talk about that for a while before I arrive home. We say our goodbyes and I enter my home. I put away my coat and throw out the empty Laffy Taffy wrapper. Then I walk to my kitchen cabinet to put away the candy. I open the cabinet drawer and empty the licorice pack into jar full of confectionery sweets. I put the chewing gum next to the skittles, hubba bubba, and gobstoppers. I stack the box of peach candies on top of a stack of boxes full of cherry candies, sour patch kids, fruit gushers, and Smarties.
I smile. Recovering smoker? I’m addicted to something, but I’m not recovering.