NDJ:5 Jessica Arenella

 M&M’s: Me & Mommy

Jessica Arenella

You go in by yourself this time, Jessie.

But Mommy, I don’t know how.

Just like we do it every day after Bean Bag school.

Everyday after nursery school, Mom picks me up in the tiny silver gray car and treats me to a bag of my favorite candy, M&M’s.

Eating M&M’s is kind of complicated, if you don’t know how. You can’t just empty the bag and eat whatever comes out in your hand, because then it won’t be even. See, there are yellow, green, orange, light brown, and dark brown M&M’s. Mostly there are dark brown M&M’s, so they are really boring. Some older kids say the green M&M’s make you horny, whatever that is. But the really really special M&M’s are the light brown ones because there are hardly any of those. They’re like the color of my mom’s coffee when she sits at the kitchen table for hours talking on the phone.

Anyway, this is how to eat a bag of M&M’s: Take them all out of the bag and line them up to see how many there are of each color. Then you have to eat the extras, mostly the boring dark brown ones, until there are the same amount of each color. Once you get that part done, then you eat one of each color, going down the rainbow. The light brown one is always eaten last, because it is the most special.

I’ll give you the money and you just go into Mr. Lansky’s store.

What if I don’t have enough money!

Here’s a quarter. Candy costs a quarter.

I try to think of something to say.

Just go in the store, like we do every day. Give Mr. Lansky the quarter and pick out your M&M’s.

She sounds impatient. . . almost mad? Um. ..

Mommy, can you do it for met

Jessie, just go! There’s a cop over there on the corner and I don’t want to double park the car.

My heart is jumpy, funny and fast. I step out from the back of the car and onto the high sidewalk. The wind blows really hard across the river. I can’t just stand there on Riverside Drive because the wind might blow me down the block.

I walk into Mr. Lansky’s candy store. The door isn’t so hard to open. I visit this store lots of times with my mother. There is a giant selection of chocolate bars, gum, root beer, butterscotch, cinnamon and honey-sesame candies and also malted milk balls, my second favorite. But things all look weird now. My eyes are looking row after colorful row of Hershey bars, red Krackels, yellow Mr. Goodbars, blue and white Baby Ruths, orange Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, silvery Three Musketeers bars and green and white Junior Mints. There are Charleston Chews as long as a ruler, in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. The gum is all stripy Fruit Stripe, yellow Juicy Fruit, red Dentyne.

My chest tightens like when I have asthma. Where are the M&M’s? I look harder, starting to feel sweaty. First, I find the lumpy bags of Raisinettes, Skittles and Swedish Fish. Closer. There are the peanut M&M’s, big yellow lumps. Phew, right next to the peanut M&M’s are the shiny brown bags of plain M&M’s. I grab one that’s kind of sticking out on the shelf.

I look up toward the tall wooden counter, clunky metal cash register, and big old Mr. Lansky with bristly silver hairs coming out on his face and stringy longer white hair flattened on his head. There’s this red-haired lady with a curlers covered by a scarf. She points to the rainbow assortment of grown-up after supper treats—cigarettes. Gross; they make me wheeze. Mr. Lansky reaches for a long green-blue box and a pack of matches. She opens up a dollar bill and some change. I’m up next.

I try to remember what my mom told me. Reaching up to the counter, I push the M&M’s toward Mr. Lansky. I reach into my pocket and it seems to be a mile deep. My hands are wet and shaky, so it’s hard to get hold of the silver coin. Frustrated, I just empty the whole pocket inside out and get the quarter. I push it across the counter toward Mr. Lansky, next to the M&M’s.

Nothing happens. Did I do something wrong? I look carefully at Mr. Lansky’s face, but I can’t find anything there. I speak up as clearly and loudly as I can:

Is that enough money?

He suddenly swoops up the quarter, pushes a button on the cash register and it clangs. The drawer opens and closes with my quarter in it. Still, I’m afraid to take the candy from the counter. Did I do it right? When I take the candy off the counter and out the door, is he going to yell Stop, thief!

No, no, I’m paying for it and I think I did it OK. Right before I close the door to leave, I turn and look at Mr. Lansky again. This time his eyes seem kind and his mouth curls up a little, in a mini-smile.

I run all of the way back to my mom in the car. I hold the bag of M&M’s tight in, like they might fall out on the street or something. I’m smiling and my mom smiles too. My mom doesn’t ask me anything. I guess she figures that everything went OK because I have the candy in my hand.

I sort of want to tell her how nervous I was.

But when I look at her same-as-usual face, I see that it’s not supposed to be a big deal. So I decide that it’s not. Kind of shook up, I don’t even bother using the M&M system. I just tear open the little brown bag, pouring random M&M’s in my hand and eating them in any old order. I am a big girl now.

You go in by yourself this time, Jessie.

But Mommy, I don’t know how.

Just like we do it every day after Bean Bag school.

Everyday after nursery school, Mom picks me up in the tiny silver gray car and treats me to a bag of my favorite candy, M&M’s.

Eating M&M’s is kind of complicated, if you don’t know how. You can’t just empty the bag and eat whatever comes out in your hand, because then it won’t be even. See, there are yellow, green, orange, light brown, and dark brown M&M’s. Mostly there are dark brown M&M’s, so they are really boring. Some older kids say the green M&M’s make you horny, whatever that is. But the really really special M&M’s are the light brown ones because there are hardly any of those. They’re like the color of my mom’s coffee when she sits at the kitchen table for hours talking on the phone.

Anyway, this is how to eat a bag of M&M’s: Take them all out of the bag and line them up to see how many there are of each color. Then you have to eat the extras, mostly the boring dark brown ones, until there are the same amount of each color. Once you get that part done, then you eat one of each color, going down the rainbow. The light brown one is always eaten last, because it is the most special.

I’ll give you the money and you just go into Mr. Lansky’s store.

What if I don’t have enough money!

Here’s a quarter. Candy costs a quarter.

I try to think of something to say.

Just go in the store, like we do every day. Give Mr. Lansky the quarter and pick out your M&M’s.

She sounds impatient. . . almost mad? Um. ..

Mommy, can you do it for met

Jessie, just go! There’s a cop over there on the corner and I don’t want to double park the car.

My heart is jumpy, funny and fast. I step out from the back of the car and onto the high sidewalk. The wind blows really hard across the river. I can’t just stand there on Riverside Drive because the wind might blow me down the block.

I walk into Mr. Lansky’s candy store. The door isn’t so hard to open. I visit this store lots of times with my mother. There is a giant selection of chocolate bars, gum, root beer, butterscotch, cinnamon and honey-sesame candies and also malted milk balls, my second favorite. But things all look weird now. My eyes are looking row after colorful row of Hershey bars, red Krackels, yellow Mr. Goodbars, blue and white Baby Ruths, orange Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, silvery Three Musketeers bars and green and white Junior Mints. There are Charleston Chews as long as a ruler, in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. The gum is all stripy Fruit Stripe, yellow Juicy Fruit, red Dentyne.

My chest tightens like when I have asthma. Where are the M&M’s? I look harder, starting to feel sweaty. First, I find the lumpy bags of Raisinettes, Skittles and Swedish Fish. Closer. There are the peanut M&M’s, big yellow lumps. Phew, right next to the peanut M&M’s are the shiny brown bags of plain M&M’s. I grab one that’s kind of sticking out on the shelf.

I look up toward the tall wooden counter, clunky metal cash register, and big old Mr. Lansky with bristly silver hairs coming out on his face and stringy longer white hair flattened on his head. There’s this red-haired lady with a curlers covered by a scarf. She points to the rainbow assortment of grown-up after supper treats—cigarettes. Gross; they make me wheeze. Mr. Lansky reaches for a long green-blue box and a pack of matches. She opens up a dollar bill and some change. I’m up next.

I try to remember what my mom told me. Reaching up to the counter, I push the M&M’s toward Mr. Lansky. I reach into my pocket and it seems to be a mile deep. My hands are wet and shaky, so it’s hard to get hold of the silver coin. Frustrated, I just empty the whole pocket inside out and get the quarter. I push it across the counter toward Mr. Lansky, next to the M&M’s.

Nothing happens. Did I do something wrong? I look carefully at Mr. Lansky’s face, but I can’t find anything there. I speak up as clearly and loudly as I can:

Is that enough money?

He suddenly swoops up the quarter, pushes a button on the cash register and it clangs. The drawer opens and closes with my quarter in it. Still, I’m afraid to take the candy from the counter. Did I do it right? When I take the candy off the counter and out the door, is he going to yell Stop, thief!

No, no, I’m paying for it and I think I did it OK. Right before I close the door to leave, I turn and look at Mr. Lansky again. This time his eyes seem kind and his mouth curls up a little, in a mini-smile.

I run all of the way back to my mom in the car. I hold the bag of M&M’s tight in, like they might fall out on the street or something. I’m smiling and my mom smiles too. My mom doesn’t ask me anything. I guess she figures that everything went OK because I have the candy in my hand.

I sort of want to tell her how nervous I was.

But when I look at her same-as-usual face, I see that it’s not supposed to be a big deal. So I decide that it’s not. Kind of shook up, I don’t even bother using the M&M system. I just tear open the little brown bag, pouring random M&M’s in my hand and eating them in any old order. I am a big girl now.