Monday, November 21, 2011
The Candy Empire
Junior High. December 13th, 1988. 1st person
“This rule is so underrated keep your family and your business completely separated.” Notorious B.I.G. 10 Crack Commandments – DJ Premier production
I’m a zilla. All my life I just wanted to be a businessman like my hero / Godfather Uncle Clayt. While I attended Junior High, I started a candy biz. I actually started it by default (all great ideas). See it all started one rainy afternoon with my man Neil Magerstin a.k.a. Junk Box. Henry is a good friend a rich friend and I only have a few friends you know? Anyway one afternoon Henry, who took all sorts of dares sat next to me in our Junior Highs grey and slightly futuristic cafeteria. On that day Henry opened my eyes.
I’d never been one for school lunch myself. My ma would make me a standard brown bag lunch everyday which I would like clockwork dump in the first grey trash can I came across yo. Faculty thought this to be deplorable. I’d warn them to stay out of family matters. Anyway I’d always bring in my pocket what I really wanted, what I viewed as my own birthright. Willy Wonka fool, just a little somethen I could munch and activate again my never ending spastic energy as the normal kids ate that hideous shit called school lunch that their stupid moms made for them.
If they weren’t eating that moldy crap than they were eating the crapola excuses for lunch the school was offering up like hot dogs that bounced. Nothing in my mind can fuck with Willy Wonka as a lunch supplement for anyone in the sixth grade. Neil is like me, see, he only ever wants to eat candy and hates school lunch. He almost at, well, now thirteen, then twelve had been as much trouble as I had been.
And for those reason he would salivate as I sounded off for effect every time watching me succulently slush on my gobstopper. I would always make faces like the taste of the never ending Gobstopper was better than I blow job, which between us I hadn’t yet received but lie about all of the time. After about the third one, and forcing the theatre Neil started offering me change for some in my pack.
“A quarter, look I have it right here.”
“A quarter, I only has five left.”
“Yeah but that whole box only costs twenty five cents Carl!”
“Yeah on the outside, Neil, I’m on the nut case inside here smuggling these on school grounds like Han Solo dropping this shit directly on your mutha fucken lap yo. It's crazy.”
“Fuck that is pretty cool.”
“You know it is.”
Finally I had mercy and sold him my last five (their were really four) for a whole dollar, hich amounted to everything he had in his pocket. Worked for me so naturally what I started doing was stealing another pack in addition to the one I stole for myself. I even bought a couple packs as not to be obvious, even though the old store owner (Jake) of the old Stone store on Mass Ave was blind, I was in enough trouble and had to be careful and careless all in one yo. Soon I learned to sneak into the "back room" of CVS where I'd been caught stealing in third grade with Terrance and grab the X'd out mountains of candy that had been shelved off the shelf post expiration. Then I really thought I was doing nothing wrong.
And man did I have a inagural customer, Neil.
It was here where I was first introduced to the powerful paradigm of supply and demand. I mean I had read about it in the Lord of the Flies, you know when the kid sells the other kid a can of coke for like twenty bucks on that island?
I had in fact never seen that shit in action though. It was great. I would sucker Neil Magenstein in with the “ooh’s” and “ah’s” of magnificent taste. At this point he’d throw away his lunch just like me sit back and watch my better life until he broke. It was great. I’d sell him the same thing for way over market price. I would watch as he would now snatch a full box from me and guzzle all of them at once. I began selling him more stuff before and after lunch. He was just mad for it you know? It was funny to me and I found it cool I could always eat sugar for free providing such a simple service. That year’s Neil flourishing sugar addiction lead me to nicknaming him, Junk Box.
Two months before the end of school old Junk was fitted with braces. I reckon the ever-lasting Gobstopper had something to do with it. The next day he still ate a small piece of rock candy for a quarter on a dare. I laughed when he did it. Braces or no braces he was still my best client and I didn’t ant him to fall for all the dentist mumbo jumbo they throw at kids with crooked teeth that just get braces.
Junk Box came to me one day in a glow of inspiration. I watched him inhale junk food with zero regard to fruit, nutrition, nourishment or any of the four food groups the commercials on during after school cartoons were always encouraging as to eat. He’s my hero. Junk Box is a good friend.
Anyway what I started during the sixth grade as special item orders for that Junk of a Box over the years turned into quite a profitable business a twelve year old. Last year during the eighth grade around Christmas time at the height of my candy empire the school launched a study as to why school lunch sales had dropped nearly fifty percent during the month of January. It wasn’t the school that initiated the investigation either. The Massachusetts Health and Nutrition sub-committee each quarter receives I guess like this thing called a ledger of cafeteria sales as well suggestions from the staff at all public schools in the state.
This of course is really not a big deal it’s just when the line on the sales graph completely nose dives, well the administration just had a few questions, that was all. Most of the revenues I collected from 7 to 8am had become for the most part kids lunch money. It also helped fuel an explosion in the practice of pitching quarters high on sugar for students gambling pleasure. The candy was a business that I started in the sixth grade and watch balloon during what was my senior year of junior high, 8th grade.
I sold Jolly Ranchers, Lemon heads, Cherry Clans, mamba’s, Soda’s (at the very end), Fun Dip, Charms Blow Pops, Jaw breakers, Alexander the Grape, Bonkers, Ring Pops (which sold like Lobster) Sweet tarts and by the height of eight grade Christmas time, I even had three employees. I’d saved close to three hundred dollars and pitched away half of that. Like most of my antics it soon got way out of hand and for the first time in my life I had more money than I knew what to do with. My extra change machines were stacked and hidden at home. My ma would flip. I’d basically bring this inventory with me on the bus. I was lucky I could stash it in my neighbors clubhouse which in my mind was my hide out / nightclub, Sugar Ray’s.
I have a hard time handling success. With me it’s not defeat, oh no! I’m defeated thirty, forty times a second by these warped adults. It’s success that I officially can’t handle. This is because I’m so in tune with things sucking that when they don’t I have idea what to do. Therefore I believe I became sloppy basking in the success of my empire and the gambling life it had afforded me. For when the school finally called a super meeting, (they had jealous snitches) with my father not only did they charge me with contra band (Candy come on!) but they also charged me with contributing to the malnutrition of my entire eighth grade class! This was my first federal offense.
My dad at the time was yanked into this meeting having no idea what it was in reference to whispered in my ear, “what the hell are you up to Bunky?” Bunky is a cute name my dad his called me since the day back when. I like when he calls me this. It reminds me that I’m his son. Due to the fact that I hadn’t seen my dad in days this meeting provided an excellent opportunity for us to catch up. Anyway, in the end they had no evidence and my dad was at a loss as to how and respond to such wild allegations in the absence of anything empirical. When my arch enemy Principal Stiff finally asked me point blankly if I sold candy in school I replied coolly, “What are you people talking about?” Why do you always blame everything on me? It’s not fair, fucking cockroaches!” This last statement caused my dad to backslap me across the face. This made the faculty happy. Probably it was a look of envy because they couldn’t fucking do it. I puckered up my nose, regaining composure folded out my palms and said, “sorry dad I just watched Scarface.” This was true and with that the great meeting adjourned.
My father on the ride home genuinely asked me if I ran a business like the one they had just been describing. For some reason I was honest with him, this was rare indeed. However, when I told him of what I had built in just three short years he had become fascinated rather than angry. He is in fact a conservative capitalist that was probably just excited to hear about his off spring making markets at such a ripe young age! He told me that I was sharp and could someday be a savvy businessman if I learned to talk like the white boy I’am, he said. He dropped me off at the foot of the street as to go undetected by my ma. Of course the happiness that I conjured from a proud father and son moment inspired me to new heights. The next week, after walking scot-free I order the few kids on the payroll to begin stealing twice as many small boxes of candy, cartons if we could!
I raised prices quite simply because I could, I had a monopoly and that’s one of the perks. Or like they say in commodities I had cornered the market. I know this because Trading Places is a movie that I’ve seen often. Movies are indeed a constructive tool. Since I was the only act in town I could raise prices if I wanted to. This was after lowering them to wipe out the copycats that had sprang during my slight legal trouble towards the end of that last week. Throw in the fact pure Sugar is like crack cocaine to kids in Junior high and not only could I raise prices, but soon just like Junk the real spaz’s and kids that took Ritalin at lunch with me were soon all harshly addicted. Once on the tippitty top I fell Like Randy and Ty in the 84 Winter Olympics. It’s never defeat with me. So like any true Tony Montana story of pure excess I fell apart and brought business crashing down with me. In short I had erred on a point n.w.a. (Niggers with Attitudes) pointed out to me years ago. I began getting high off my own supply.
I was consuming over ten full packs of fun dip a day. I was lost. I began screaming at my teachers in a raging high dip high, “you can’t make no babies!” A look of concerned oddity would cross their faces as I skipped through space merrily. Throw in the little white super crack rock sticks that come with fun Dip, and I was like “Tiger” I lost control of my inventory, storage and employees. I got sloppy. I got faced. Because I didn’t follow that dam song by N.W.A. enough! I need to bite something. I can’t believe I didn’t sell Swedish Fish. That number five red ye is like heroin to me. I could’ve sold them a dime apiece or three for a quarter, step right up. It’s a dam good thing I happen to one of the few kids out there that can admit when he’s wrong. So in one titanic week of major sales and major abuse it all fell apart. I became very sick. This probably had something to do with my diet but I can’t be sure.
I got in major trouble and just skirted out of being held back, I was relieved and remorse. After the collapse of my candy empire I needed a break. I needed to chill which is impossibility for a kid like me. I asked my folks if Betty Ford had a section for Sugar addicts and my mom shot back, “Shut up stupid! What the hell kind of question is that?” I replied, “but seriously ma, I’m addicted over here! I can’t stop, I can’t stop, I can’t stop!” My father (who would leave the house shortly there after this incident) then walks in from the den like a baseball manager glancing over a young pitcher having control problems. Throwing ball after ball the manger like my father has seen enough. The King of the castle speaks, “You imbecile, don’t you know that humans can’t become addicted to candy?” I look up saddened and ask, “but what about me>“ He walked off and when I asked my ma why dad says mean things she told me I needed to see a psychiatrist. Knowingly defeated I walked out of the kitchen enduring the tough stitches of a tough loss. Anyway barring any parental help from my parents or these curtain adults with my own addictions I was forced to kick the smack cold Turkey locked up in suspension solitary.
It wasn’t easy though and it angered me deeply with all of these fucking school programs and guidance counselors no one had taken my addiction to sugar seriously. A month later I was clean of everything but the Pink Milk. I suspect that it was the pink milk that got me through.
I battled horribly trying to get clean for months that when I finally did get the monkey off my back I tell only my right hand man B-Dawg, “B-Dawg, I wouldn’t wish that on you.” That shit was rough. He looks at me confused in a funny I don’t get it type of way and said giving me the weird look, “thanks.” Addictions B-Dawg, let us always keep our eyes on addictions.”
“I heard they almost kept you back?”
“Yup, they can’t hold me.” I loved mocking my own luck at its most sensitive occasions. Tired and sluggish I’m ready to begin my ascent back up the eighth grade social ladder. When I finally did look up, I noticed everyone had turned thirteen and lunchrooms were packed again. Cafeterias were enjoying there re birth. Full and vibrant one could see four food groups activated back to action. Children guzzling milk as fruit and smiles pasted a lively and orderly scene. This was a far cry to when I was on top. Nestled in an illegal corner we were kids that were tired. All sat one skittle away from Sleep. And on that day of my awakened slumber back among the masses I couldn’t help but feel people were giving me bad looks. These kids looked like they were enjoying school lunch or something! Well my friend if that was the case the school should award me and N.W.A purple hearts of battle! I mean what an unfathomable mission that is. I sat alone that day asking B-Dawg to even just let me be. I wanted people to see me suffering. After lunch I was again paged to principal Stiff’s office as the hits kept coming. These adults will definitely kick you wide eyes when you’re down in the face. That’s when they like to get you most.
Anyway it was here that I learned as a consequence for my actions I would not be allowed to go with the other students on the annual trip to Washington DC a birth rate for all eighth graders in town. Just to hit me low when everyone was starting to get excited. Once seated in Stiff’s office he informed through his large Oakland raider silver goatee that they never take kids like me on trips like that because their educated people. He swiped a couple final low bows about the disgrace that I was, I took deep focused exhaling breaths as not to cry. He said I still had to keep my nose clean for the spring if I wanted to go to high school.
I thought to myself leaving that A) I was going to tone it done, and B) I’d never forget that cockroach and C) next year in high school maybe I’d become a bookie.