My love of Lemonheads has been documented previously on this site. For those you who dare not click the hyperlink (smart, it’s actually just a GIF of tub girl) I refer to the candy, not, the band.
To speak in the casual parlance of the internet age, candy is the greatest and your argument is invalid. This might seem like the literally the most obvious statement a person can make -- still, I'll say it loud and proud - candy is delicious. But I’m overweight and always have been. Plus I’m a girl. I’m not allowed to say how awesome candy is. Second only to incesting-while-killing-a-baby there are few more reprehensible crimes than being female, fat, and expressing a nearly sexual passion for candy.
I’m doing it anyway. I love them because they are delicious. I love them because they are cheap. I love them because they come in a big, flat, bright yellow rectangular box that dares you to even try and feel miserable. They are accidentally maracas. Hand a closed box to a baby and see just what I mean. I love them because they are fancy and gormless.
Their mascot, Mr. Lemonhead* (I named him that, I do not know his real name but Mr. Lemonhead feels right), looks like Stewie Griffin on Lexapro. I can make antidepressant jokes because of my own pharmaceutical adventuring. Mr. Lemonhead grins welcomingly at all who come to his box. He has no body, no, no neck to speak of, and yet he wouldn’t dream of presenting himself to you without a bright blue bow tie that floats conspicuously beneath his grinning mug.
I love them, too, because they brought me out of the candy-loving closet. I don’t remember when exactly I went in. I do know that it’s been a long, long time in the dark. As a kid, I spent whatever money I had on penny candy. Of course, I loved chocolate (I’m not a moron) but when I close my eyes and try to remember what it was like to be ten, I taste Now N’Laters and Jolly Ranchers and Atomic Fireballs. I biked from my parents’ house down a hill to the local convenience store, loaded up on what I could afford and then walked my bike back up the hill home.
Once in my room, I would feast and read and lounge on my bed. Because I was kid, most of the wrappers went under my bed. After my mother discovered the trove of forbidden splendors I became no less lazy -- just more ingenious. I stuffed my wrappers in the same place I’d later hide my shitty report cards -- under the mattress with ye, calorie-baring shame! Why I didn’t think to throw them away I cannot say. Granted, this was at the same period of time when I was doing stuff like drinking boiling water in my bed at night out of a sippy cup, so yes, there was an undeniable aura of strangeness about my person overall.
Other kids were probably masturbating, I was seeing how much change I could find in my dad’s suit jackets to get my next sugary fix. Girls were dancing with boys for the first time, and I was I eating Atomic Fireballs during long hot baths where I’d get dizzy and sick from the temperature while reading trashy young adult fiction I’d purloined from school. Some girls played dress up, stuffing their bras, trying to figure out what being female meant. I tried to figure it out too, but I sprang tits when I was nine, no stuffing required. My contemplation was reserved for hours on the toilet, eating taffy and wondering why my boobs didn’t look like the few boobs I’d seen in the movies.
I don’t think I was a lonely kid. But I remember these vast swaths of time from back then, time when I was alone and loving it. I created perfectly safe universes in my mind. I’m still a huge book fan, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to capture the way reading felt to me then. Jawing away on something sweet, fingers staining each corner, I felt transported. I felt seen.
It changed when everything else did, around 6th grade. That’s when I began talking to my peers about my body. “I’m on a diet,” I’d proudly proclaim. I was a novice, but I’d already learned that letting everyone know I’d failed them by even taking up space on the planet was a way in. This time my plans to diet were met with laughs from friends. A fun-sized Snickers bar wrapper flitted out of my pocket onto the floor. My cheeks burned. I hated that the joke was so perfect. I wasn’t even, like, into Snickers bars that much!
That’s when the candy became illicit. It was always private and enjoyable, and sometimes risky -- I knew my mom wasn’t wild about me eating candy non-stop everyday. But it was never something WRONG. It stayed that way for a long time. It stayed that way even after I outgrew not being able to eat in front of men. I think if you asked me when I was eighteen if I would rather eat a Baby Ruth in front of Michael Keaton, or blow a mean stranger in front of my peers, I would have gone the way of beej.
I had heard of all the cliched perks that came with getting older. I didn’t think flagrantly eating candy in public places would be one of them -- but it has been. I would have settled for quietly beginning to realize that I’m not the worst, that’s been pretty great. (True story: I did my first ever sexy-in-my-underwear dance in my room last week!)
But being able to wonder through a candy shop alone and not hidden beneath a stylish cloche a trench coat (two things I don’t actually own) made me giddier than any amount of self-love revelations have so far. All of this said, I probably should be brushing my teeth a lot more than I have been. Mr. Lemonhead is damn sexy, but tartar is not.