I didn’t get to eat them often, but each time my parents left me with a babysitter so they could go out and see a movie, they would bring me back a pack of M&Ms and leave it on my dresser for me to find in the morning. I hated babysitters. The whole idea of a teenage girl being responsible enough to protect me and to scare off strangers made no sense. But, knowing that while they were out, my parents were buying a treat just for me was comforting. Because I knew they hadn’t forgotten me, that they wouldn’t forget and I knew that when I woke up they would be back home and I would have chocolate and the stupid babysitter would be back at her house where she still had to live with a mom and a dad and where she probably wasn’t even able to stay home alone.
In college, whenever I was sick or had cramps, friends would buy me a one-pound bag of M&Ms. I guess the chocolate still soothed me then. It made me feel like I was home or like someone cared. I would eat the entire bag in too few sittings and then, I’d swear to never eat another M&M. But, I kept going back. The M&Ms kept coming from friends and old boyfriends and from times when my willpower wasn’t strong enough to resist them in the corner store.
Today, I said no to M&Ms. I received a press release at work for the new, mega-sized peanut M&Ms, which come in colors like teal and maroon and gray. And if you ask me, they’re really ugly and drab and they look a little bit dirty, too. I know this because the release came with a one-pound bag of the candies. And though I opened the bag, I didn’t want them because now, M&Ms remind me of what had been. Of a marriage that used to be intact, of parents that used to be together and of happier, less confusing times. I didn’t want to even try to be soothed by the stupid candies today because what I’m feeling hurts too badly – and it’s a pain too stabbing for even chocolate to numb. But mostly, it hurts to remember and to imagine the things I may have not known about and the things I knew about and how something that seemed so perfect from the outside could have gone so wrong. So, I gave the M&Ms to my coworker, but I got a stomach ache anyway. This time, not from eating too many chocolates but from remembering the times when I did.