Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Swedish Fish

We are multi-sensory creatures. We have been given five sense to enjoy and appreciate our surroundings: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. I am constantly amazed at the fact that those sense can grab a hold of me and transport me to another time and place in mere seconds.

I'm a big fan of Swedish Fish. If you haven't had them, you don't know what you are missing. To me, they are one of the greatest candies ever made. I will admit my bias and also the fact that part of my love for them comes with the feeling of nostalgia that accompanies every chewy sensation.

I grew up going to a camp in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains. In the early years of going, I would go with my parents and would stay in a cabin with them. When I got older, my brother and I would have a cabin of our own. More than 20 years since I have been there, I still maintain friendships with people who I knew from there. My parents, before they left Connecticut, would still travel up there every summer to vacation.

I have so many different memories of this camp. I remember throwing rocks in the parking lot outside of our room and losing grip on one which ended up in the neighbor's headlight. I remember "summer love" as I would encounter girl after girl who would capture my heart (give me a break, these were my pre-teen years). I remember hanging out in the snack shop, paying a penny a piece for Swedish Fish. That's why every time I eat them, I am transported back to that place.

One year, my whole family went and within an hour of being there, my brother had fallen off a merry-go-round and broken his ankle. Problem was, my dad didn't think it was broken. He made him walk on it the rest of the day and I remember being woken in the middle of the night to the sound of my dad and brother getting dressed to go to the hospital. My brother came back with a cast to not only begin his week, but begin his first year in middle school a few weeks after we got home.

I remember the summer that I spent up there working in the dishroom. I was not even making minimum wage and I easily worked 70 hours a week. What made it enjoyable was the company. Here we were, a bunch of guys in our mid-teens, working in a hot and humid dishroom. It was the summer of 1987. While we washed dishes, we would listen to New Order's "Substance" and Guns n Roses' "Appetite For Destruction." At some point, the "powers that be" forbid us from listening to Guns n Roses, but it didn't matter as we had memorized a good portion of the songs (though we shouldn't have been singing them considering the colorful language they employed).

I remember walks to a graveyard where we would tell ghost stories and walks back where I got to hold a girl's hand for the very first time. I remember how long the year seemed because I couldn't wait to just get back again and enjoy those moments the next summer.

I could go on for hours with stories, but I don't think anyone would listen (or read). The stories that I can tell, the memories that I cherish can be shared with anyone who so desires to hear them. My poor kids are probably going to be the most regular victims though, hearing about Dad in another place and another time.

To think, all this from just one bite of a Swedish Fish.

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