NY Challenged: The Day I Caught a Sneaky Sweet-Tooth


My grandfather was a man with healthy routines and a secret sweet tooth, as I learned first-hand. (Courtesy of Jim Weddell)


Memories of my grandpa resurfaced the other day. I was making dinner with a friend, and she held the opinion that black pepper should be added to everything. My grandpa was the same way. He also lived by a very regimented schedule: a six mile walk at 5 a.m., no singing before breakfast (or you would cry before night) and a salad at 3 p.m. He covered the salad in pepper. I remember growing up in awe of his strict and healthy routine, until the day I caught him in a moment of weakness.

My grandfather was a man with healthy routines and a secret sweet tooth, as I learned first-hand. (Courtesy of Jim Weddell)

I was six years old and always in a hurry. My neighbors and I were outside playing tag, but decided that soccer would be more fun since we were only three people. I ran into the house, to my bedroom, to find a ball.

My bedroom was very dark and big, with no windows; it was in the middle of the house. The room been converted into a bedroom, but it still had two sets of doors, one on each side of the room. I entered from the side of room that was far away from the light switch, and being the time-efficient first-grader that I was, I decided to scramble around in the dark.

I reached under my bed, lying on the floor and stretching my arms out, digging for a soccer ball. While I pushed sneakers and boxes aside, I heard a strange sound from the other side of the room. It was the rustle of paper, interjected with stifled grunts. Maybe I could describe it best as the imagined sound of Santa Claus wrapping presents.

I shrugged it off and kept looking for the ball. In those days, my determination to have fun was only outmatched by my determination to avoid showers. I finally managed to poke the ball out from under the bed, and it rolled across the floor toward my closet. My closet had no doors, just curtains. The curtains swayed slightly as my ball rolled toward them. I heard the sound again; this time I could pinpoint its location as behind the curtain.

The sound died as I approached. I picked up the soccer ball and flung the curtains open. There, standing amongst my shoes and leaning on my coats, stood my grandfather. He stared at me, mouthing silently like a fish underwater searching for words, lips covered in chocolate.

He waved the half-eaten Snickers bar at me like he was trying to direct air traffic, still standing in the closet. He stumbled over an explanation, “Oh, um, I, well I, your grandma…”

Being the fun-dedicated 6-year-old that I was, I slowly closed the curtain while he rambled, and ran out of the room to play soccer. My feelings about the situation were sort of equivalent to those of a young child who needs to go to the bathroom during an intense game of hide-and-seek. I would address the matter later. More important things were at stake.

I didn’t tell anybody what happened until later in the evening, when I simply asked my dad, “Why was Grandpa eating a Snickers in my closet?”

My dad seemed unsurprised.

“Oh he was? I don’t know, he seems to have this idea that Grandma doesn’t like it. So he tries to be sneaky. She knows, but I don’t think she cares.” I could tell that my dad had grown up watching my grandpa do more curious things than closeted candy eating.

When I saw my grandpa later that night, I said nothing about it. Neither did he. I understood. It was like when I lied to my mom and told her that I had already showered that day. We all need to feel like we’re getting away with something, sometimes.