great & not much left


I went to the movies recently (Soderbergh’s Side Effects, a film, as fate would have it, about pharmaceuticals both real and imagined) and noted with sadness that Good & Plenty were no longer offered for sale. Yes, I could get nachos with molten cheese pumped out of a vat, or warmed-up chicken fingers, or ice cream “bites.” But no black licorice of any kind. “We only have red,” the clerk told me. I didn’t have the courage to tell him that there’s no such thing as red licorice. I mean, there is, but not in my book. Ever since I was a child, when my Nana Mary used to give me black licorice jellybeans at Easter time, I’ve been hooked. But lately, being a black licorice lover is like being a cult member. And not a big cult, mind you. More like nine people in the basement of somebody’s raised ranch on a Friday night. I’ve heard of recent studies on so-called “irrelevant” or “old man” candy. I won’t deign to quote them here. All I know is: whatever it is you like, then that becomes “the best” for you, much like the Zen fable where Banzan becomes enlightened after overhearing a conversation in the market. Hey, if you prefer room temperature Canei with a screw-top cap, then that’s your Graves. Twizzlers and coffee for breakfast? It’s a free country. I know my candy isn’t sexy. But maybe the G&P I’ve been downing by the boxful lately are a gustatory reminder of my childhood, when they showed Goofy cartoons before matinees instead of Pepsi commercials and extended First Looks at the new Cougar Town season. I’m thankful to my grandmother for setting me on the right path. She could have fed me Werther’s Original instead. And that would have been just wrong.



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