Thursday, March 13, 2014

Free range kids

We would have to cross the park, a schoolyard, a couple of streets to get to the corner store. We would go for candy, comics, mini-sips, just to go and also for the occasionally pack of cigarettes for the adults. I always remembered the confusion I had when trying to memorize the right format of smokes. 20 or 25, kingsize or regular, etc. Sometimes the clerk would wonder why a couple of kids wanted smokes, most often there was no problem. We were there for the candy and the kid junk, it was clear.
    There were two options of shop. One was Perrette, a local d├ępanneur chain. This is where we would get mini-sips, small see-through plastic bladders of coloured sugar water that we would drink by piercing with the short pointy straw it came with. As was customary upon completing the drink we would blow through the straw and inflate the empty bag. By then pushing the pointy straw right through the other side, the plastic pillow speared, the air would be trapped and we'd have a little balloon to toss around. We wouldn't toss it around. We'd place it on the sidewalk in front of the shop and stomp as hard as we could on it. A satisfyingly loud pop later and we'd continue with our junk.
    One time and one time only we lived our dream of full scale maxi-sips. We each bought a litre bag of sugar water meant for the milk-bag pitcher, thinking this was the champion of sip sacs. How those unfinished bags languished in the fridge, a tiny straw jutting out like a mast on a leaking rubber raft.
    The other shop was Johnny's, a general store full of all kinds of things, kites and other toys, candy, magazines, and of course a thousand products invisible to children. It was unlike Perrette in that it was darker and messier. Johnny's wife was 'mean' whereas the man himself was happy to have us. I believe she accused us once of stealing which brought one of the more pro-active aunts to champion our cause and cuss the lady out. We were sugar addicts and comic book readers but we weren't shoplifters. And the cigarettes, Belmont Milds, Rothmans or Medallion, were not for us.