Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Chocolate milk memories

I will be the first to admit that I am a chocoholic. I don't have quite as much passion for chocolate as I do for bread, but it is close.

Last night as I was driving late in the night, I was hungry. I hadn't eaten anything since lunch and didn't particularly want to wait another two hours before I staved off the screeching of my stomach, so I stopped. I'll have to admit another of my guilty pleasures - cheese and peanut butter crackers. A little package of those goes a long way in making me happy.

While I'm driving I completely avoid caffeine. That helps me also avoid potty breaks every 20 minutes or so. So that means that I always pick up a bottle of water, but I generally want something else as well. I always end up pacing back and forth in front of the drink coolers at the convenient mart hoping something will look amazing. That is usually accomplished by some strange and odd fruit juice that makes me smile as I try new flavors. Last night, however, I saw a little bottle of chocolate milk and before I knew what had happened, the bottle flew into my hands and I was checking out.

Once I was back on the road, I snapped the top off and as I drank that milk a flood of memories hit me hard. I was chuckling and giggling as I drove.

I went to elementary school in a little tiny town in southeast Iowa (Morning Sun). The lunchroom was such an interesting experience. A few things I hated (little cubes of beets), but for the most part it was pretty awesome. If you didn't like the meal that day, at the end of the line there were always bread and butter sandwiches or lettuce sandwiches (bread, mayonnaise and lettuce - AMEN!). My favorite day of the week, though was Friday when we got chocolate milk if we wanted it. And I always did.

Don't forget, I was in elementary school in the 1960s. Those were the days of milk in glass bottles. There really wasn't much better than ice cold chocolate milk coming from a bottle of glass. What joy for a kid.

My mom's mother lived in the Boston area and as a kid, I spent time with her. Grammy was an unpleasant woman, to say the least, but of all her grandkids (there were only 3 of us), I was the one she could tolerate, so I got to visit her. She took me shopping, entertained me around the Boston area with history and all sorts of interesting places, let me meet her friends (I think she had 2 or 3) and watched me like a hawk. I was a pretty adaptable kid, so I was easy to have around. If she wanted things to be quiet, I was glad to curl up in a chair and read a book.

Each day at breakfast, though, I had to make a choice. I could either have chocolate milk for breakfast or save my chocolate allotment to have it on ice cream after dinner that night. For a 10 year old girl, that's a tough decision to make! I either got immediate satisfaction or learned about anticipation. Not much fun for me, but every day I made a choice. There was no way that I was going to get more chocolate than Grammy wanted me to have. I knew not to complain, she was crazy enough to remove it from me altogether.

But, Grammy didn't have Nestles Quick or a bottle of Hershey's syrup. It was the can of Hershey's syrup. She would buy it just to have while I was there. I knew that she was trying to make this special for me and so I accepted her little bit of crazy (actually I accepted a whole lot of crazy from that woman, but those are other stories).

As I continued to drive, I thought about the fact that I had a bag filled with Girl Scout cookies in the back. I had picked them up earlier that day. How many cookies can you eat? Well, I have to tell you that I will only eat two ... at a time. Whenever there were cookies in the house, mom would allow us two. She must have known that one was never enough and three was probably too many. So ... two. "Mom, can I have a cookie?" "Yes, Diane. You can have two. Don't take anymore ... just two." Somehow her radar let her know if I had taken more than the allotment. I catch myself today only taking two cookies and walking away. However, I will continue to walk back and forth if I want more than that, but for some reason, two is my limit ... at a time.

I don't drink much chocolate milk anymore, I actually haven't opened any of my Girl Scout cookies yet, but I still love chocolate. When I took that first drink of milk last night, the memories that came flooding back were from a time of innocence and joy at something as simple as a choice between white milk and chocolate milk on a Friday afternoon. My choices these days never seem to be that simple until I find myself standing in front of an array of drinks in a Caseys convenient mart off I-80 late on a Tuesday night.

It occurs to me that we make life much too difficult. I thought Grammy forced me to make difficult choices, but they really weren't. One or the other and both was guaranteed to bring a moment of joy. Simple joys come in simple packages sometimes.

Maybe my response to difficult decisions in my life should just be to drink more chocolate milk.


Rebecca said...

So what kind of Girl Scout cookies? As for the choco milk... can I tell you my love for chocolate milk is what gets me through my bottle of Ensure every day... it's my little morning treat... there is no way I can hold off till night time for a fix! Oh and the crackers... they are a secret indulgence of mine too! Just one more thing we can pack with the tuna casserole for our visit! xoxoxoxox

Diane Muir said...

My favorites are the Thin Mints and the Lemon cookies. I could eat a sleeve of Thin Mints without blinking! Oh my!