Can Of Great Joy
by Nicole Freire
Every house, every office, and your grandmother has a variation on this green can.
At Chez Freire we call it the "Happy Can". When we're being silly we call it the "Can of Great Joy." Mostly we call it the "Green Can", as in "Do we have anything good in the green can?"
Here's a nice picture of the green can. The green can does not actually live on the countertop. No, it lives in the cupboard next to the sink, a little bit high up, but not so high that an eight year old could drag a chair over and reach it. Equal access for everyone.
I had to stage this photograph because the cupboard where the green can lives is also where we keep a dozen varieties of pasta and about six water bottles and coffee travel mugs. It's not a very pretty cupboard, which is why I put the green can next to the pretty squash and the bananas.
The squash, by the way, is also just for show. Every once in a while I buy a spaghetti squash because 15 years ago someone made it for me and I liked it. Of course, I don't know how to cook squash, so it will just stay on the counter until it gets rotten and we have to throw it out. We also do this with bags of pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower. We buy them and put them in the vegetable crisper and then forget about them until we clean out the fridge three weeks later. Terribly wasteful, I know, but we always have such good intentions with vegetables.
Whoa, I digressed there for a paragraph. Let's go back to the green can. You know what's in the green can, don't you? Of course you do. CANDY.
This particular photograph was taken on Monday and clever readers will notice that it's filled with jelly beans and a few token candy bars. I love jelly beans. Not jelly bellies (Reagan liked those, remember when I went on his plane?) I love them so much that I'll hoard bags of them after Easter until they get nice and stale. But during the rest of the year jelly beans can be rather hard to come by. So, where did I get jelly beans in October? Does it matter? No, because it was a fluke. I was buying candy corn and there they were! Jelly beans. They weren't Brach's though, which is a little sad for me, because they make the best jelly beans. But I'll take what I can get.
Anyway. The green can. We always have a little something in there. The level in the green can rises considerably after big candy events. You know, Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. But we usually manage to keep it partially filled, mostly because there are times when you need just a little treat. We had stale Dum Dum lollipops in there as late as September, ones that I bought last Halloween. Only crazy people would throw away stale candy. Or is it that only desperate people eat stale candy?
You want a little sweetness after dinner. Not an entire Butterfinger Crisp, just a little bite-sized one. (Butterfinger Crisps are the new sugar fix at our house. We're enjoying a bumper crop right now, because you can buy bags of "fun size" Butterfinger Crisps for Halloween. I think this is particularly dangerous but I stocked up anyway.)
We're not very discriminating with the green can. We'll take any kind of candy as long as we can cram it in there. It's not that big, so you couldn't put a "king sized" Butterfinger Crisp in the green can. Maybe some M&M's? Tootsie Pops? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? Whoppers? Yes please.
Why do we need the green can? Well, let's say the dishwasher is acting up and you have to hand-wash the icky cast-iron pan. Or your children once again reject any food that is not white and covered in parmesan cheese. Maybe you're up late watching Law and Order and there's a brief commercial break. These are the times when you quietly creep into the kitchen and bring the green can out of hiding. These are the times when just a little bit of sugar is what you want. Actually, maybe you want an entire Butterfinger Crisp, but you'll settle for a handful of stale jelly beans.
Am I right? Of course I am. And we all have them, these secret stashes of candy and sweet things. Or is just my family?
My grandmother kept a dish full of Brach's caramels next to the telephone, along with her keys and her cigarettes. My other grandmother kept Ginger Snaps in the cupboard over the convection oven. When my sister and I were little and we visited my father at work, we headed straight for the pencil drawer in his desk where he kept his candy stash. My parents keep bubblegum in the silverware drawer. My sister and her husband have to keep their candy in the freezer, because my nephews are still small enough to believe that if they can't see the candy then the candy doesn't really exist. This means you have to eat frozen Hot Tamales, but it's worth it to not have to share them.
I once worked at a very quiet company, lots of quiet reading and concentrating going on, so the candy had to be kept in a jar at the receptionist's desk. You'd take a little stroll over to the lobby and it would be like a mini cocktail party in there, happy people grabbing butterscotch discs and rubbing the noisy wrappers into little balls that we would throw at each other (Ok, I made that last part up. We didn't throw them at each other. But wouldn't that be fun?).
At work my boss is in charge of providing ‘fun size' chocolates and I'm in charge of the Red Vines. The big jar of Red Vines, the kind you can get at Costco, and also, strangely enough, Gelson's. (They also carry lemon flavored ice, which I initially thought was wildly extravagant until someone pointed out to me that in certain mixed drinks, lemon flavored ice really comes in handy.)
Halloween is coming up soon and I'm running out of places to keep the extra candy, the stuff I'll be giving out to trick-or-treaters, and if I'm lucky, we'll have too much of.
So tell me, lovely edhat.com readers, where do you keep your version of the green can? Are you caramel people? Mounds bars? I'll try not to let the fact that you like coconut prejudice me in any way. Who buys the gummy bears in your house? And where do you keep them? Can I have some?
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.