Like any good father when my son, Darth Spoilboy, was born almost sixteen years ago I wanted to pass down certain cultural traditions that I felt important. However, being hamstrung by our location and the conflicting nature of my work hours and National Guard duties during those early years many activities were either greatly curtailed or had to be abandoned.
I will admit there were times I was close to being outright depressed at not being able to share activities like spontaneous trips to the beach with my infant and later toddler son similar to the ones my uncles took me on at the same ages. Now to be honest my uncles, who at the time were in their late teenage years, were using me as bait to attract the attentions of bikini-clad ladies they knew in high school.
Despite the many cynical remarks by my wife, I never for a minute intended the spur-of-the-moment trips down to the coast I wanted to make with my son for the same reason. Now if any attractive ladies out on the beach felt drawn to my young son because of their raging maternal instincts that was something beyond my control and since I was raised to be a Southern gentlemen I was required to be friendly and responsive to their interest in my son.
Nevertheless, because of certain circumstances, namely the audio recorder/tracking device called a wedding ring my wife forced me to wear, it became necessary to share less exotic activities with my son like my utter devotion to Chips Ahoy cookies. Spoilboy could not help but eventually come to share a similar religious zeal to those glorious cookies but unfortunately, in recent years our mutual affection for them has evolved into a cold war with increasingly desperate attempts to hide the Chips Ahoy bags from each other.
The actual memory of my first exposure to the luscious and pure all American goodness that is Chips Ahoy cookies faded away long ago but the story I like to remember involves my grandmother and her desire to keep her house clean.
Decades ago here in the South, during a far simpler age, there was a common philosophy that no good whatsoever could come with “youngins” staying inside a house during the day. This belief was so extreme that during summer months when school was out kids were often shooed outside by their mothers and not allowed back indoors until dinner later that evening. The only real exceptions to this policy were for a short period at noon for lunch and very severe thunderstorms. Any other time gangs of kids could often be found wandering through neighborhoods like hordes of bipedal locusts looking for something to do. Those in my age group were experiencing the very last years of a golden age of adventure and innocence for kids and I was lucky to have experienced any of it.
The first of many societal assaults that eventually brought an end to that ear began when local televisions stations started their insidious broadcast of several hours of kids programs in the afternoon. The endgame of it all eventually lead to soul crushing cable cartoon channels filled with crass commercials and mind numbing video games.
Being a ravaging horde of bipedal locust looking for stimulation my siblings and cousins using a hive-like sixth sense invariable made our way to our grandparents house in hopes of watching Bugs, Daffy, and Roadrunner, and after that “The Three Stooges.” For about an hour our Granny welcomed such visits until we began reenacting the rambunctious antics of Moe, Larry, and Curly endangering her clean house and sanity. Now Granny was cunning and after decades of using Pavlovian training techniques on her own children knew exactly how to chase away her over stimulated grandkids.
When Granny could not take it anymore, she would pull out the famous blue Chips Ahoy bag and after giving us one cookie each, would toss the rest outside on the front porch. With our sugary instincts primed like sharks smelling blood we would rush outside and begin the frenzy. No one should be surprised that given our crazed state we never once heard the clicks of our grandmother locking both the front and back doors.
My son’s first exposure to Chips Ahoy began when he was a toddler, after we returned home at the end of the day a bag of the cookies would sit between as we both sat in from of the television watching the evening news. Icy cold milk was the beverage of choice with his in a Barney the Dinosaur sippy cup and mine in a quart-sized tiki mug. After Spoilboy chewed on a couple of cookie he would grow bored with the news and doze off leaving me with the entire contents. As it can be expected that was my chance to relive my youthful fantasies of having a complete bag of Chips Ahoy all to myself.
All through the period of our ravaging horde visits to my grandmother’s house, I had to contend with three younger siblings and several cousins each battling on the porch for as many cookies as possible. During Spoilboy’s early years, I was still a lean, and very mean fighting machine so a whole bag could disappear in the space of thirty-minute news broadcast along with nearly a gallon of milk. Now things have greatly changed.
My lean and mean army trained body has morphed into that of a middle-aged civilian and Spoilboy has long since gone beyond being satisfied with just two cookies. The trouble began when one of us, I am not saying who, found the quantity of Chips Ahoy dangerously low. The natural male knuckling dragging thought was to protect the supply by hiding it from the person who might take what was left, then deny any knowledge of their whereabouts.
Since my son and I know each other very well this subterfuge was successful for only a very short time, after that it became a contest to find where the cookie were hidden. Early hiding places were easy for both of us to uncover, I normally picked high places requiring him to climb and he would locate redoubts in the far corners of low cabinets. Places where my wife stored her exotic and outright scary kitchen appliances that were at best used once a year.
On a side note, so rare are these bizarre culinary appliances ever used that there has been several occasions we when we have forgotten we owned them and have mistakenly gone out and bought duplicates. Only to rediscovered the original appliances after searching for a place to store the one we recently bought. My wife finds such occurrences outrageously funny, for various reasons I fail to find the humor in those situations.
Anyway I digress, in recent years this Chips Ahoy cold war with my son as escalated to the point that Dragonwife, my lovely spouse, has become drawn into the conflict. Feeling that my middle-age spread has become an issue she has begun restricting the purchase of Chips Ahoy to times we have discount coupons. Dragonwife treats these coupons as classified materials and only shares this information with Spoilboy in an attempt to curry favor with him.
Since my only skills at espionage have come from spy novels and television shows like “Burn Notice” I will admit that I have been caught a couple of times sneaking looks through Dragonwife’s coupon folder. But such desperate actions are required because if Dragonwife is able to make the purchase and then pass the Chips Ahoy over to my son I will pay a steep price for even one cookie.
When will this cookie cold war ever end? It is hard to say since I am quite proficient at concealing the cookies when I am able to get my hand on them first. For years Spoilboy never found my hiding place behind the washing machine until recently when he searched in that area looking for a missing shirt.
Now a good cold warrior would not have said a word but feeling he had scored a massive coup in our frosty conflict Spoilboy danced around the house in victory. Like the proud father I was I saluted his momentary triumph and just smiled. I did not say a word about the fact that a few weeks before I had found his own Chips Ahoy hiding place but had left his stash untouched.