The Parable of the Discount Candy Easter Eggs
The blog yesterday brought bobbing up from the depths of my brain another story from my days on Harold Street. This is an odd story. What is odd about it is how it has stayed in my mind for almost two score years, as seemingly unimportant and trivial as it is. I will bet that despite its triviality, my old roommate Gary remembers it too.
Sometime after the Easter of 1972, Gary and I needed a couple of items from the grocery store. There was a Weingarten’s around the block and a couple of streets down. Weingarten’s does not exist anymore, but they were a strong grocery chain in Houston in those days. When we needed a lot of groceries we would drive a car over there, but when we just needed a few things we would usually walk.
This was maybe ten days after Easter and I can’t recall what we were out of that afternoon which prompted the trip. It could not have been bread because we always bought our bread for twenty cents a loaf at the Mrs. Baird’s Day Old Bakery store. Whatever we needed, it was light weight, I remember that for sure. We picked up two or three items at the store and were walking back to the cashier when Gary spied a table of marked down Easter Egg candy. Not just marked down, but the second mark down, they were practically giving the stuff away. My roommate had a legendary sweet tooth. I brought him a bunch of large peanut patties one time and he would munch on them after he went to bed. It, thus, did not surprise me when he began to pick through the Easter sale items, eschewing the yellow marshmallow chickies and bunnies and the chocolate Easter items. He finally settled on a bag of candy Easter eggs which came in many colors in a cellophane bag. The colors were so vivid and phony looking that they were probably made with some dye that has sense been banned.
We paid for our items and they were put into one of the small grocery bags (not the standard size ones), the kind you used to carry a loaf of bread or a quart of milk before they introduced plastic grocery bags, Gary picked up the bag and we began our two and a half block walk home. I don’t remember the first two blocks of the walk as anything but a pleasant stroll on a nice spring day. But as we rounded the last block for home, Gary’s expression began to change.
He looked at me and said, “I’ve carried this bag the whole way, it’s your turn.” Well, technically, and legally he had me dead to rights. Half of the groceries, other than the Easter eggs were mine. We always shared burdens and under the rules of the house ,he was entitle to ask me to carry the bad, had been entitled to so ask for about a block or so. But the request caught me off guard by what seemed to me to be its pettiness. The sack weighed under a pound, he had carried it to within three to four houses of where we lived, it seemed stupid to change carriers at this late date. So I responded in the manner one would have expected me to, if one knew that I had the maturity of about a six year old. “I’m not carrying that damn bag.” I said. I honestly can’t recall if I used the word damn, but I can’t imagine that I would not have modified the noun in some way, shape or form, and damn is about the most pleasant expression I would have used.
“ I have carried the bag all this way, it’s not fair that you have not carried it” he said, trying to hand me the bag. “I’m not carrying it anymore. “he continued. I responded again, “I’m not carrying it, we are practically home.” At this point he saw that I was not going to take the proffered bag and so he let it drop on the sidewalk in front of him. While this technically changed the issue between us, the argument bore an eerie similarity to the one that had put us in this awkward position. “Pick up the bag” Gary requested. “I’m not picking up the bag” I rejoined, “you dropped it.” He stated This struck me as unfair, “I did not drop it, you tried to hand it to me and I told you that I was not going to take it.”
This could possibly have gone on all day but people in the neighborhood were beginning to take notice. The standoff continued awhile longer until it was clear that neither of us was going to budge,. Upon looking down at the sidewalk we noticed that the colorful candy Easter eggs had fallen out of the bag. The fight began anew. “Pick up those ”….”you pick it up”…they’re your Easter eggs, if you want them you pick them up”….”you are really not going to pick them up, you’d just let them lie there on the sidewalk /” You get the picture. Gary turned and picked up the grocery items ,but left the Easter eggs lying where they were. I followed him without a glance back. As you might imagine, an argument quite similar to the ones we had just had soon began. This time about going back to pick up the eggs. I will spare you the details.
Day turned to night and no one picked up the Easter eggs. Every time we went outside, we saw them. The first days ants were crawling all over them. Then a day or so later, it rained and the cheap dye started to run off of the eggs and onto the sidewalk, staining it a nice putrid color of purple. Still, no one picked up the bag of candy. By now we can, of course, include the entire neighborhood in this fiasco, most especially the owner of the house (more likely the tenant) who had to see this soon to be disgusting site every time he got into the car he left parked in his driveway. After awhile, the wounds between Gary and I healed and we no longer cared who picked up the eggs. I think it actually began to amuse us that the eggs were still there, a melting mess caused by the most petty of all arguments.
Finally one day, the eggs were gone. I don’t know how long they stayed there, a week or two, until probably some stray animal dragged them away. The stains and the memories remained. What also remained was the question, why ? Why did we leave the eggs ? and Why do I remember the eggs ?