I came from a big family: four parents in all (counting “steps”), and seven children (none ever counted as “halfs” in my mind or heart). The point is, we had quite a few mouths to feed. So, whenever there was something to eat, it had to be divided up into multiple portions.
We usually had plenty of everything, though—except desserts, of course! That meant no seconds on things like cakes, pies, or ice cream. In fact, we usually only had those treats on special occasions like birthdays, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The one exception was Jello. Since it was only 10 cents a box, we got to have it at least once a week. And the making of it was a greatly-anticipated event. Living in the country makes you appreciate the little things! We kids, ages five to eleven, would sit around the kitchen table, waiting for our turn to lick our freshly-washed little fingers, and poke one into the bowl, and to help with stirring the tasty dessert treat.
One day, I guess I didn’t have enough to do to keep my mind occupied. I say that because I found myself daydreaming about the sweet/ tangy taste of my Jello-laden finger, and about how it never seemed like enough. So, I decided to take some drastic action: I would wait until my mom was out of the kitchen and sneak a box outside to enjoy my treat, without having to worry about sharing any of it. If a little was good, the whole boxful would be Heaven on earth.
Sure enough, a little while later, my mom got busy vacuuming in one of the bedrooms at the far end of the house. My sisters were watching cartoons on TV, and my brother was playing with his Matchbox cars in his room. This was my golden—or rather, cherry-flavored—opportunity!
I slipped into the kitchen, carefully slid a chair over to the counter, and grabbed a box of red Jello from the cabinet. Ever so quickly, I slipped outside and ran to the side of the house. We had a huge doghouse out there, one big enough for all of us kids AND the dog to fit into. It was raised up off the ground, resting on four concrete blocks, and that left just enough room for me to squeeze with my stolen treasure.
I tore open the cardboard, ripped through the inner bag, wet my pointer-finger, and stuck it into the powdery mixture of gelatin and sugar. Ah! Heaven! There was no one out here to stop me after my first taste, so I repeated the action two or three more times, enjoying each fingerful more than the last.
Of course, at some point, I decided that the finger-serving method wasn’t delivering the tasty product fast enough. So, I made the logical decision to pour the glistening red crystals into my mouth, to get a real mouthful of flavor.
I lifted the opened box up to my lips, which wasn’t easy to do while squeezed under the doghouse. I just turned my face to the side and proceeded to pour that coveted cherry Jello into my red-stained mouth.
Agggh! I choked and sputtered, as a puff of red powder erupted from my mouth, and shot out from my nose. I couldn’t believe it: my successfully-obtained treasure was actually choking me, and worse—it tasted unbelievably sour! And to think, I had done something I ordinarily would never do: I had tricked my mother, whom I loved pleasing, AND I had stolen.
I was so upset by the disappointing taste that I started crying right there, sprawled under that doghouse. But, just then, my mom’s face appeared with a relieved smile, as she knelt beside my hiding place. She was so happy to have found me that she just smiled at me, helped me out of my lair, and walked me back into the house to get cleaned up.
On the walk back to our front door, I was stammering my confession and repeated, “I’m sorry, Mom,” over and over, for my horrendous crime. I couldn’t believe that, instead of scolding me, my mom’s relieved smile seemed to be getting wider, in her amusement at my plight.
I went into the bathroom, still crying in embarrassment and disappointment, and washed my tear and Jello-stained face. Tragically, my Jello dream had come to a bitter end.