Pez candy, consciousness, and having a dad...
One of my earliest memories was when my dad came home from a trip. I can't remember if he was still in the Air Force and was coming home after some training or if he was a brand new principal at the Christian School and was coming home from a conference of some sort, but I remember him coming to the front door and my brother Tim and I standing there waiting for him to ascend the steps of our porch.
I then remember him giving us each a Pez candy dispenser and some refills to put in them. I had never seen anything so remarkable in my life. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pez phenomenon, it was this plastic, spring loaded contraption with a head on top of it that you could lift up forcing a piece of candy out like a bowel movement, partially because of the spring-loaded featured mixed with a masterfully engineered "head" that was connected to gears and levers and pulleys and such.
I remember being nothing short of bewitched as I loaded this candy container like a staple gun and locked the bottom of it like I was about ready to go shoot chickadees with my B-B gun. I would lift the head of this plastic dispenser like I was trying to encourage it after long day. It would reward my encouragement with a little treat conditioning me like Pavlov's dog. I can't tell you the withdrawal that occurs after you get used to the instant gratification of a sweet reward only to run out of those little rectangular sugar pills. It's like coming off Crack Cocaine. I remember trying to fill it with other foreign substances just for the placebo effect, but nothing else seemed to tame the wild beast of my flesh.
To the best of my memory, this is the first time I felt a consciousness about my life. I don't remember anything before this moment. I'm sure some shrink could drudge up some potty training mishap or the accidental eating of a piece of currency, but I'm not willing to have someone dangle a pendulum in front of me whispering something to me in a hushed voice with bad breath, so we'll never know, will we?
This was the first time I remember having a dad. He was tall and strong and better yet, he was the bearer of crystalized nectar. I remember that he was dressed in a suit and was so much larger than life. I remember seeing him embrace my mom and take up both my brother and I into his strong arms. I remember just knowing that I was safe and loved.