by Meredith Counts
We have known each other so long and I keep coming back even though I know you’ll hurt me. My teeth, my tummy. You’re too old for me. You’re just not good. More rakish than your cousin, the mellocreme pumpkin, your pull is seasonal, gravitational, and real.
Every year I am drawn back to your contradictions. Your texture, somehow both smooth and grainy. Why do I make the same mistakes over and over? I know I’m better off alone but when I run into you at the drugstore and look, you’re stacked and displayed all prominent. My body says yes. I touch you hesitantly at first and weigh you in my hand. I feel you shift inside before I lay you down (in that top part of my shopping cart) where I can look at you.
This can’t go on!
Even my family knows you, that’s how long you’ve been around. I don’t introduce them to my snacks these days. You are familiar, no Johnny-come-lately with too much citric acid, no chunky salt sprinkled atop formerly-bland caramel. You have no surprise goo. Nerds-Rope you are not. OK I admit. Your steadiness appeals, even to the elderly.
But you’re not hopelessly old-timey. You don’t ride up on a novelty antique bicycles. When I bring you to a party, friends don’t corner me in the kitchen to ask if I’m OK, as if I’d brought satellite wafers, or horehound. You’re socially acceptable. I’m the dope who keeps falling for it.
Your punctuality is comforting, I’ll give you that. I know to expect you, you’re like that mannerly and very old vampire teen who so ardently stalks the young woman in that series. Come autumn, I know you’ll be out there, staring into my window, sparkling for me.
So you‘re dependable, but so is your terrible aftertaste. This is my 38th October and I know some things by now: I can’t wear high heels, I don’t like TV shows where the whole plot is based around a misunderstanding that could be quickly resolved, and the pleasure of biting into you is not worth the way you linger.
Candy corn, we’ve got to break this off. Bite off this bad habit… one stripe at a time… hold you by your wide bottom, and nibble just your… Ope, no. NO. Stop. We’re stopping!
Maybe it’s the season. Breaking out my sweaters leaves me daydreamy and my resistance is low. Am I high on wool? And just turn on the news. Gods know we need some comfort where we can get it. Pumpkin Spice Lattes leave me lukewarm. Am I this desperate for a basic fall staple? Has a society with mediocre values raised me to accept you, a subpar seasonal treat that does me wrong?
Every year I let you in, then promise myself to end this relationship.
I eat you up and say that’s the end. I brush and floss. I wash my sticky hands. You give me space for eleven months — your other holiday variations are easy to ignore — pastel Easter corn? Pssh. Then you come back around and I can’t keep my never-learning hands off you. Your packaging says “made with real honey,” now. You are two-for-$3. It’s been a while. Maybe this time will be different.
Every damn time, candy corn.
Every damn time.
You’re no good.
This has to stop.