The Power of the Ring Pop
A little something for the "teenager" in all of us...
In an on-line world consumed by the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard civil suit and the ongoing debates about gun control and abortion rights, wouldn't it be nice to feel good and smile about something as simple as candy? Or a comment from an innocent and inquisitive child?
This little tale begins simply enough:
It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in late May and I was on my way to meet up with my daughter for a little snack and shopping spree. Since it was a beautiful day for a drive, I took the back roads through cottage country in coastal north-western Nova Scotia. Needing gas, I pulled into a little Mom and Pop operation in Amherst Shore - it's the kind of shop where you can purchase not only gas or diesel, but also ice cream, fireworks, alcohol, smoked brisket, fresh baked goods, and just about every kind of candy a kid of any age can imagine.
I stifled the urge to scream as I filled my tank with over $80 worth of fuel (outrageous - $2.04 CAD a litre - but no fault of the store owner!) and then sauntered (limped) into the store to pay for it. While waiting in line, I quickly determined that I had no immediate need for any fireworks or alcohol. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but notice an extensive array of candy to choose from - 4 rows! Indulging my inner child, I promptly grabbed a small bag of Twizzlers and two Ring Pops, more out of nostalgia than any urge to satisfy my sweet tooth.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Ring Pop, it's a pacifier-shaped candy - ostensibly a bauble of hardened flavoured sugar mounted on a one-size-fits-all plastic ring. Seeing it offered there on the store shelf took me back in time to my younger days, back to when I was a child myself as well as when I was raising youngsters of my own. A Ring Pop is a simple little treat that lasts as long as your patience... you can lick it and enjoy the taste a little while or you can sacrifice your dental work and crush it up with your teeth. Either way, your tongue will demonstrate evidence of your snack for a few hours, post consumption.
As I approached the cashier and placed my items on the counter, I heard a little voice behind me say "um... are you a teenager?". Given that I am pushing the golden age of 50 with a corn broom, the thought didn't occur to me that those words were being directed towards me. But then I heard the question again, once more with feeling, "excuse me... I said 'are you a teenager?'".
I turned around to find a young fellow, maybe 6 or 7 years old, looking at me intently. Somewhere between flattered and confused, I answered, "Oh, sweetie... I haven't been a teenager in a long, long time".
Nonplussed, and perhaps not having heard me correctly, he continued with a follow-up comment: "Well, you must have been a teenager for a long time - why else would you be buying those?", pointing to the Ring Pops.
"Oh," I said. "I just decided to buy one for me and my daughter... and I'll tell you something else... she's not a teenager either".
"Hmmm...", he said reflectively. Or perhaps dismissively. I admit, given that all three of my grown kids are now aged 19 years and older, it's hard for me to get a bead on what a 6 or 7 year old might be thinking these days - not that I was ever really good at it in the first place.
I paid for my items and turned to leave, but thought twice before departing. I turned to the woman who I assumed was the young fellow’s mother and held up one of the Ring Pops, silently seeking her permission to bestow the treat upon her son. She nodded in what I took to be agreement and I handed the red Ring Pop to my interrogator.
"Oh... thank you," he exclaimed proudly, taking the offering from my hand.
"No, buddy... thank YOU", I told him. "You just made my day. No one has accused me of being a teenager in a very long while."
He smiled at me and we parted ways. I left the store knowing full well that his question to me was in no way intended to be a compliment about my youthful appearance. The crow's feet and grey streaks in my hair would never mislead anyone into thinking I'm in my teens. I still couldn't help but chuckle to myself - because his innocent question did manage to make me feel good.
In this case, I didn't need to taste the Ring Pop to unearth a little sugar rush.
And besides, I might have been down one Ring Pop, but I had a bag of Twizzlers as a consolation prize, after all. That... and a 90's country music play list to sing along with for the rest of my drive - just enough to keep the feel-good vibe alive for a little bit longer.
About the Creator
Ms. Carroll is a 40-something year-old veteran public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves running, red wine, and laughter.
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