Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peppermints and Tissues

"Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own."
-Logan Pearsall Smith

I offered my mother the last peppermint in the package; she declined. I was six. We were waiting for my brother to finish his hour in a children's club and there was nothing to do other than suck peppermints and anxiously study the front doors of the building.
As soon as I deposited the last peppermint into my mouth, Mater decided that she would like one after all.
From her regal position in the driver's seat, Mater could not initially see the torn twist of useless paper I grasped, nor my bulging cheeks, nor my horrified face.
Being overly sensitive, and far too sure of Mater's heartbreak if I said she could not have what she wanted, I said that I was very sorry, then I cried a little, and then I looked around for a resolution.
I discovered some clean white tissue paper in the pocket of my jacket. I tore a piece off and offered it mutely. She was bewildered, but hesitantly took it in her hand and pretended that all was well, that I had, after all, some peppermints left. We went through the motions of giving and receiving, and it worked, but superficially. I felt miserable that I had not been able to give Mater- who never asked for anything- what she requested, and in spite of my pitiful attempts to make up for the loss I never quite was able to renounce the memory.

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