…”Dad’s orders. Sorry, I can’t get in or let you in until I get this done.”
No way! I was beginning to feel really small. This cannot be happening to me. It was and it was beginning to look futile to just give in.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel you have put in way too much time or effort or sweat equity into something to just let it go nilly willy, or is it willy nilly? Like waiting at a bus stop for an eternity, wondering to yourself:
“Should I just walk the extra mile or should I continue to wait here for the bus.”
Of course you know what will happen. Just as soon as you decide to take the hike that bus will be seen barrelling over the horizon. Of course you will now find yourself just a wee bit too far away to make it back. Never fails. Happens every time. I believe they call this phenomenon in psychological circles, Escalation Theory and its corollary: Determinants of Commitment. Yet, if I had just lit a cigarette at the bus stop instead of striking out on my own accord the same outcome would have occurred. Of course, who smokes in public when they are 10 years old!
I was committed and determined to see this damn thing through. My blood was beginning to boil, temperature rising, escalating to new highs, but what could I do?
Gerard was incessantly confident that all was right with the world. I knew I was duped by his mischievous charm and his roguish aura of playfulness. One way or another I had to see this through.
I looked at the pile of newspapers, felt a chill and looked about. Kicking the snow and, as if by proxy, kicking myself in the ass. You idiot, I thought. This cannot be happening to me.
Then Gerard threw me a couple of caramels. “Just in” he announced. “Fresh as a new day’s snow.”
Wow. I was taken aback. My interest in this endeavour was piqued, again. This must be true I thought. I popped one of the caramels into my mouth. Sensationally savoury!
“Okay Gerard. Let’s get these done before it gets too dark here.”
I was back in!
He snipped the lashings off the stacks, sorted the papers into two equal piles, placed them both onto a toboggan and more or less directed me to take hold of one of them lines.
“You just do as I tell you.” He said.
“I have to pull you as well?” I objectively stammered.
“Yes, better this way. I can sort them while you pull me and the whole lot. Believe me, it is the best method of getting these papers done.”
I surrendered. Off we went.
Good thing he lived on a street that was one part of a two part Crescent: each Crescent forming a half circle. I was surely the circle jerk in this operation. We got the route done. Or should I say, I got her done as Gerard never left his perch on that toboggan. I pulled, I carried, I ran and I delivered every single one of those newspapers. He just sat there and directed traffic.
Finally done, back at his house out of breath and somewhat tired.
“Okay Gerard. No more fooling around. How about those caramels?”
It was getting late, for us at least. Almost dark.
“They are in the basement,” he piped. “We will have to go in quietly by the back door. C’mon.”
I followed him and in we went: down the back stairs and into the dark, damp, dank confines of his basement. It seemed to be one big room, but full of boxes. Floor to ceiling high with stuff, junk. The smell of staleness and mould was overwhelming to the senses.
“Turn on the lights,” I asked of him.
“There are none.” he said, “But I know where the caramels are stored and I’ll direct you to them.”
My suspicious mind was beginning to get the better of me.
“Over here” he touted. “By the big work bench. Now, you’ll have to get down on the floor.”
Boxes everywhere. Funny that as they all seemed to be so light as to be empty.
Not to worry he reassured me. The caramels are in similar sized boxes, stacked at the back of the wall at one end of the workbench.
By this time I was down on all fours scrum-aging around underneath a massive workbench trying to come to grips with the situation. Gerard just sat there by the back stairs directing me here and there. The boxes of caramels were beginning to be somewhat illusive. A spectre perhaps, a spectre of confectionarianism. As unreal as a caramel reality could get.
Just then all hell seemed to break loose at my expense. Gerard began to laugh, slowly at first then uncontrollable bursts and guffaws right from the gut. As if on cue his older brother Art was there as well: laughing, laughing, and laughing. Their faces red with humourous glee. In between bursts:
“Thank you Gilly” he laughed
“You are welcome.” I was not laughing.
“Thank you for walking me home.” he laughed again
“You are welcome.” I was humiliated
“Thank you for shovelling the driveway.” he continued to laugh
“You are welcome.” to my stupidity
“Thank you for delivering my papers” he laughed, uncontrollably. His eyeballs were so huge as if they seemed to be popping out with ridicule.
“You are welcome.” for my naïveté
And to further put salt in the wound I knew what was coming next!
“Hey Gilly” they could hardly contain themselves at this point.
“You want a caramel?” Art and Gerard just kept hammering away at me relentlessly, in between their gut wrenching guffaws, their bellies shaking as if in hysterical convulsion, and I deserved every salvo I got.
“Don’t feel bad Gilly.” he relented. “You are not the first. Last month it was Oh Henry’s.”
I got out of there just as fast as I could: with my tail between my legs no doubt, metaphorically speaking of course.
I ran home: disgusted, embarrassed, humiliated and stupid. Stupid to fall for something that in hindsight was truly ridiculous. The Great Caramel Caper of Our Lady of Peace. I felt so small, so vulnerable: useless and not a good day for my self esteem or self worth, and definitely not wanting to show my face at school tomorrow. Gerard would be merciless in his cat calls and ribbing. I knew then that I would just have to take it all in stride and ignore him and his friends and attempt to deflect the onslaught of ridicule and mockery that was sure to come my way. That’s about all one can do.
I got home. It was dark and very cold outside. But inside, the warmth, the kind hearted glow of yellow tinged light and the comfort of familiarity greeted me. I was safe and sound.
“How did it go at Gerard’s?” my Mom asked.
“Fine” I lied. “His train set was awesome.”
“I am glad to hear you had a good time.”
And in the same breath, as mothers always do.
“You are just in time for dinner. And, I have a big surprise for you for dessert.”
“Oh yeah?” I suddenly became very interested in this train of thought.
“One of your favourites – Jell-O pudding.” she volunteered.
“What flavour?” I cringed, for telepathically, almost knowingly, I seemed to be fairly confident in my feeble mind as to be able to predict with some authority the answer to that question
Oh nooo! The torture continues!
Note to self. I will never, ever, ever have another caramel in my entire life.
And I didn’t!
I thought, you know: “Life is tough, but when you’re stupid it’s horrendous!”…