Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Now or Later You Must Face It

Growing up black and a comfortable two blocks from the projects, I learned early on that there were parts of our life and culture other races just could never understand. Hair-care products=afro sheen; low-income housing development=projects; juvenile detention center=reform school; candy=now-a-later.

My love for editing must have started there because even before ebonics, we could shorten the snot out of any concept – low-income urban housing development, indeed!

Anyway, the candy of the hood is my chosen topic of the night. Hold on to your protein shakes, baby, cause tonight I’M BINGEING NOW-A-LATERS!

Even with an allowance of less than a dollar, one could easily be rich in Now-Or-Laters. A pack of ten cost about a dime when I first started being a connoisseur of fine Now-Or-Lating. And oh, the flavors: grape, apple, cherry, chocolate, and the speciality flavors. We traded them like cards and used them as the “pot” in our elementary card games like pit-a-patty (yes, illegal back porch gambling – the shame of Lake Charles, La.)

I knew their fame was grown out of proportion when I last visited the Ebony Theatre on Railroad Avenue. I don’t remember the movie I saw, but I remember the menu: row after row; every single counter – only Now-a-Laters! That’s the night I discovered the exotic flavors saved for special occasions like coconut, chocolate and pineapple. I died and had gone to Now-or-Later Heaven.

I normally admit to having no obsessions and binge cravings. Well, every now and then, the world’s woes seem only curable by a tiny brown paper bag of Now-or-Laters.  I drove (or my husband drove) the extra mile to find a store with real ghetto Now-or-Laters when I was pregnant and not on diabetic restrictions yet. I remember sneaking a big bag of them into the Advocate newsroom and stopping at every black person’s desk and letting them pick their favorite and reminist on ‘our’ secret.

This was a tough day for me. The pressuring phone calls started early, my 3-year-old is on a candy strike and low and behold, my loving sweet husband picks this day to revert back to being ‘a man.’ Argh!

Some wls surgery patients can’t eat under stress. I guess I’m one of them. Eating while ‘slightly hacked off” led to some hacking up later during bath and litter box duties. Yup, I threw up in both bathrooms while giving Cecilia a bath and appeasing my new kitty childs Precious and Dinky.

Enter the Now-or-Laters from the Halloween offerings. Since no Tricks came for our Treats, I decided that this binge experiment was something I was simply destined for.

So how many licks does it take to get to the end of a Now-or-Later binge? I can’t count the first two cause I tossed them with the rest of dinner, but there’s a healthy stack sitting on the tray of my baby’s highchair. She’s even learned the favors: Red, purple and green.

I just stopped to open one that Cece discovered sitting amongst the remains. “What’s this, a red?” I gave her the candy and kept the wrapper.

I don’t think I’ve gained a Now-or-Later pound. I just need to brush my teeth and face everything I wanted to go away 30 Now-or-Laters ago. On top of all that, we ghetto folk were wrong again, again. This wrapper clearly reads “Now-AND-Later.” I don’t know my own addiction.

Now or later? I chose later and it’s come very soon. I can’t eat another bite and the stresses of the day are still mounting. Not to mention I’m writing with a 3-year-old on my back and her stuffy-head daddy needs “stomething sto I con breathe and go ta sleep.”

So, if you thought I didn’t fall and have these bad days, you were wrong. I took two steps backwards and I have the color wax paper all over the floor to prove it. It just didn’t help. Tomorrow, I’ll try some earnest prayer and a nice bike ride. At least prayer and exercise never gave anyone a cavity. Now or later, you just gotta face it.