June 25, 2013
When I was a little Vanessa, I loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I was always borrowing them from the public library, and I owned a few. They were stories that I read over and over again.
One that I especially loved was about a taffy pull. I don’t remember much about the story, but I remember that it made me want to make candy.
Mom said, “No way, Jose. You’ll just make a big mess.”
Usually, my mother let us kids do whatever we wanted in the kitchen. She was cool like that. I was surprised she had said no. I guessed that making candy must be especially messy.
She called Grandma. “Mom? How are you with making candy with your granddaughter?”
I laughed to myself. Let the mess be made in someone else’s kitchen.
That weekend, I went to Grandma’s. I brought my Raggedy Ann book to show her. I read the story aloud while she fixed dinner.
“Can we have a taffy pull, Grandma?”
She shrugged. Why not?
I had never had taffy, and my grandmother had never made taffy before.
“I call your cousin Irene. She knows how to make taffy, I think.” She called that evening and got a recipe from Cousin Irene (Steve’s sister).
The next morning, Grandma and I made the biggest mess in history. It didn’t seem to matter how much we had buttered our hands; everything was sticky. We had it on our clothes, on our faces, in our hair, and all over the little kitchen.
And the taffy tasted yucky.
When we started to clean up, my grandmother started laughing. I was surprised; I thought for sure she’d been angry about the disaster area her beloved kitchen had become.
“I have sugar rocks… in my eyebrows!” She howled, and I saw that she had tears streaming down her face. Sugary tears.
“And YOU!” She pointed, still laughing and crying. “You have it on your NOSE!”
I rubbed the tip of my nose. It was hardened there. I started laughing, too.
“If I hug you, Vuh’-Ness-Uh, I’m afraid we need firemen to come and take us apart!”
I was crying with laughter now, too, picturing the firemen trying to yank us apart. I reached for a tissue.
Grandma shouted, “No!” but it was too late. I now had tissue stuck to my face and fingers.
This brought on even more laughter.
Once the kitchen was back to normal, and we’d each had a shower, we sat in the parlour to watch television.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Why you sorry?” Grandma asked.
I shrugged. “It was a bad idea, the taffy.”
“No,” she said. “I had fun. I just wish the candy tasted good.”
I scrunched up my face a little. “Yeah. It sounded good in the book. But I don’t like it at all.”
“And there is so much of it! What do you think we should do with it all?” Grandma asked.
“Let’s give it to Daddy. He’ll eat anything!”
I didn’t understand why that brought on another laugh attack, but I didn’t ask.
I brought the paper grocery bag full of taffy home and gave it to my father. He thanked me and said, “Mm! Taffy!” Like it was the best present I could have ever given him.
Mom told me, years later, that my father hated taffy. But he accepted the gift anyway.
And he ate it all.