Sunday morning. St. John's Lutheran Church. 1990.
After an hour of Playdough, Father Abraham and feltboard Jesus, I gleefully wriggled next to my best friend Marissa and settled in for a long service. As the organ blared, we rejoiced at our successful cajoling efforts that resulted in our families sharing the same long wooden pew.
Crayons in hand, we critically scanned our Disney Princesses coloring books to select the subject of our latest and greatest artistic achievements.
"Oooh! Cinderella! My favorite!" I squealed with delight as I haphazardly ripped out the selected page.
"She's okay," the ultra-cool Marissa sniffed. "But she's no Ariel."
"Girls! Shhh!" my mom hissed, eyes flashing.
I meekly bowed my head and resumed scribbling.
After a few moments, Marissa began rummaging around her Minnie Mouse lunch box in search of a snack. I heard my own tummy grumble and watched with piqued interest to see what would emerge from her fumbling.
She eventually produced a crinkly red package covered with several colorful dots. "Yesssss!" she cheered quietly. "My favorite!"
She glanced at me, expecting me to share in her glee, but was met with a blank stare.
"What's the matter?" she whispered. "Don't you love them?"
"Um...I don't know," I said. "I've never tried them."
"WHAT?!" she said incredulously and breathed a small sigh of pity. I could feel the color steadily rising in my cheeks.
"Here," she said, sticking out her hand while popping a few of the colorful discs in her mouth. "Try some."
Obediently, I plucked a purple circle from her hand and after dubiously inspecting it, placed it on the middle of my tongue.
I crunched through the sugary shell as my mouth exploded with fruity flavor. My eyes lit up with approval.
"Good, right?" Marissa said with an all-knowing confidence. "Here, have another."
I eagerly grabbed another piece of candy--this time red--and tossed it in my mouth. Again, my senses were awakened with delight.
"Yum!" I said, mouth full of sugary goodness.
Before I could even swallow, Marissa handed me more. Again, I accepted the candy without hesitation.
"Thith ith good!" I said thickly around the ball of goo as I reached for more.
Crayolas in hand, we continued our feast. But no matter how quickly I chomped on each delectable treat, Marissa was always waiting with more. As I added fruity flavor after fruity flavor, the growing glob of sugar between my cheeks ballooned at an alarming rate.
Suddenly, I didn't feel so good.
I focused intently on chewing, but the gummy ping-pong ball of infinite cavities didn't budge. Wide-eyed, I turned to Marissa in panic.
"Hchlmf!" I spluttered.
"What?" she asked.
"HCHLMF!" I repeated, sugary spit flying everywhere.
"I can't understand you," she said, peering at me with a furrowed brow.
Out of pure sugar-induced terror, I burst into tears, stopping only when safely perched on my mother's lap and with her coaxing, successfully deposited the fruity goo in a Kleenex.
Just in time for confession.