As a member of the middle class, my childhood was in no way free of tragedy. My parents, thoughtful as they were, crippled my future writing career by failing to die or even divorce during my upbringing. Nor were even the holidays free from suffering: how I remember that fateful Christmas when, tense with anticipation to receive the NES game Baseball Stars, I ripped open that familiar rectangular present to find… Bases Loaded II. I still carry the pain of that moment to this day.
But despite the hardships that I endured, the fact that I never got a Pogo Ball and that my parents allowed me to watch Smokey and the Bandit at least a hundred times on LaserDisc, I would be remiss to leave you with the impression that my youth was unending disappointment. As proof that my parents did in fact feel some sort of affection for me, twenty-three years ago, they gave me this:
The picture sports an autographed rookie card and the prized Upper Deck headshot of 1989. Still, the eye is drawn upward to a pair of Ken Griffey, Jr. candy bars, made with 100% milk chocolate, which are probably still at least 98% chocolate today. But wrapped in its thin foil is more than just processed cocoa with alkali: they also trap in the heady potential of youth on the cusp of achievement. One sees them and imagines a group of boys sitting a patch of grass, biting down on Griffey’s head and tasting summer.
Thank you, Dad, and thank you, Mom. And a Happy Boxing Day to you and yours, dear reader.