Like 30 bajillion other people, I have become mildly addicted to Facebook. Go on and criticize. My friend Sherry thinks my "dicking around" on FB is the cause of my lapse in posting on my blog. There might be some validity in her statement, but not all is lost. No matter what excuse one uses for being on FB -- I'm reconnecting with long, lost friends; it's my family's way of communicating; inane quizzes created by barely literate people rock my world -- we're there and no one seems immune. Much to the dismay of the younger people who believe the world belongs to them and us old folk are just sitting around watching Murder She Wrote dvds and waiting to die, we are joining en masse. Get over yourselves. Without us, you wouldn't have a basement to live in, junior.
One of the many applications available on Facebook is called Living Social. It should be called Living Social; Demented and Sad, but Social. What this app (it's how cool Facebookers say applications) does is allows users to post their Top Five anything. It can be "My top five favorite television shows" or "The albums that shaped my life."
What this has done is caused me to revisit my youth. Despite the many obstacles my family faced, I had a great childhood. Yeah, I have some emotional scars from being teased as the youngest child in a brood of eight, but so much of my recollection is filled with joy. I guess we were poor, but I never knew it until later on. I suspect it's due to so many other large families living in our neighborhood.
One particular memory is of our neighborhood grocer: Weiner's Superette. They had a little bit of everything. If we needed Manila paper for a project, they had it. If mom was out of sanitary napkins, she'd send me down to get her a box (oh! the embarrassment!)
Because we lived from paycheck to paycheck or unfortunately had to "rob Peter to pay Paul," fancy name brand products weren't a regular item in our home. Dad did most of the grocery shopping after he left his barbershop. We weren't strangers to whatever could be made into a gravy and served on rice or potatoes. The key was making something of quantity out of very little.
In the winter we'd consume a lot of oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, or Maypo for breakfast. When hot cereal wasn't an option due to time constraints or being plum out, we'd rely on good old puffed rice or wheat cereal. The bag was enormous but hardly weighed anything. Now, I can't bank my life on it, but I'm pretty sure it bore the name of Popeye on the bag. It wasn't frosted. We had to add the sugar which inevitably sunk to the bottom of the bowl. You had to dig deep; scooping up gritty, sugary syrup with each spoonful of cereal. The real treat was drinking the remaining milk and getting that last bit of sugar grit in the final swallow. mmmm mmmm. If we were lucky, we'd have honey to drizzle on the puffed kernels. It made consumption a lot easier with sweetness in every bite.
Periodically we'd run out of all things breakfasty. Mom or dad would dig up the cash to turn this cereal free Saturday a momentous occasion. We'd have the esteemed pleasure of walking to Weiner's to buy name brand cereal. I was trusted with buying a cereal we'd all love. Being a kid, I only cared about what I wanted. Naturally, the cereal itself had nothing to do with my purchase. For me, it was all about what lay deep within the crumbs and sugar coating. Yes, the toy prize in the box!
I had to choose wisely. Reading the box carefully to make certain the toy was in the box and not some free offer with 15 proofs of purchase. I needed immediate gratification. I wanted tasty and fun all in the same box!
Finally, a selection would be brought to the counter where our choice was scrutinized by either Lydia or Betty. Lydia looked like most depictions of a hairy moled lunch lady. Betty, on the other hand, was much more put together with her auburn bee-hive hair. She was bitchiest of the two. They were accustomed to me taking eons to pick out cereal, nail polish, magazines (Playboy and the like were kept on the bottom shelf behind the counter right under the candy bars which always made me giggle.) Of course I was interested in Tiger Beat. I only flipped the pages without ever buying. This, too, was something they were probably less than fondly used to when I passed through those doors.
I'd take off with my purchase and race down the alley. The store was a mere half block away. In the summer, I rarely wore shoes. I became quite adept at walking on the rocky pavement of the alleyway. It wouldn't be unusual for me to be toting a gallon of milk, too. As I got a little older, I learned to carry an 8-pak case of Pepsi; a gallon of milk and, in this case, a box of cereal in a paper bag. Skills, friends.
I'd burst through the back door and immediately rip into the box of cereal. I'd shake and shake tilting the box to the left, then the right. Elbow deep I'd go in search of the prize. My reward for making the trek to the store. With a forearm laced with crumbs and sugar I'd retrieve it. A toy that had the amusement of 30 minutes ... less time than it took me to choose the breakfast of champions.
One unusual prize had a greater impact and much longer staying power. This prize wasn't even within the box of cereal. Sugar Crisp Cereal had a 45 record on the back of the box. With a pair of scissors and a record player, I became a Jackson 5 fan one special morning. I'd anxiously await Michael's declaration to "Look over your shoulder, honey!"
So, if you're on Facebook you can find me ... 'cuz I'll be there ... I'll be there. Just search my name ... and I'll be there....