Me, Aunt Bea, and Some Candy Corn (Part 1)

in #fiction6 years ago (edited)

The following is a work of fiction. This is the first of several parts, the rest of which you'll find soon on my blog.

“I think I’d like some candy corn.” That was her standing order every autumn. I smiled and then shuddered at the thought of my elderly aunt eating all that sugar.

Aunt Beatrice never married. Her last job was working for a “high tech” company that designed Fortran cards. Those punch cards were state-of-the-art for computer programming in the 1970s.

In her old age, aunt Bea moved into a retirement home with independent care. She had a nurse who visited a few times per week. And they gave her a panic button near the toilet and shower.

The panic button was more of a cord that she could pull to summon help if needed. One time, I pulled the cord by accident, reaching into the dark bathroom and thinking it was the light switch. When the ambulance came, I learned my lesson.

Beatrice was my late father’s sister. As her closest living relative, it was my responsibility to look in on her once a month or whenever I was able to visit. I took her outside for some sunshine and fresh air. We listened to music together, which she insisted upon, since she was still trying to convert me to jazz (without much success). And she asked me to bring her candy, which was a direct violation of her doctor’s orders.

Candy corn is nasty stuff. It’s an old-school candy that was solidly replaced by better tasting alternatives about 50 years ago. I Googled it recently to find out who still eats it. Apparently, the companies that make it are still selling 35 million pounds of candy corn per year!

Is this a traditional, unwanted item like the fruit cake my parents used to get every Christmas because they felt like they had to, even though everyone hated eating it? Eggnog is another good example; I buy a whole carton when I see it in the store, but one sip will do ya. After that, the rest of the carton sits in my refrigerator until I can safely claim that it’s old enough to throw away. Waste of food, I know. Some years, my will power kicks in enough that I don’t buy any.

Candy corn is similarly vile. I can eat one of those little kernel pieces and that’s it. I’m done, stuck with 49 more in the bag. Several kinds of sugar, carnuba wax, artificial color, and marshmallow extract are the key ingredients. Bleh. It doesn’t even look like corn. Yet the stuff has been around since the 1880s. It’s enough of a tradition that certain people buy candy corn every year around Halloween.

My aunt Beatrice was different. She was one of the few who honestly enjoyed eating candy corn. If anyone could love the stuff, she did. So I brought it to her, even if her doctor said no.

I loved the smile that spread across her face when I brought out the candy. The smile suggested that she and I were parties to some forbidden secret and were conspiring against the whole world. She got the whole bag, eating some and rationing the rest over the next month. Or so I thought, but what do I know? Maybe she traded it for brandy and cigarettes when she went down to the senior center to play bridge once a week on Saturday evenings. All I knew is that I visited her about once a month and she needed more candy each time.

This time of year, it was the candy corn she wanted. Last fall, I tried getting fancy. After Googling it and realizing that candy corn comes in different flavors, I ordered some of the chocolate and blackberry ones. Aunt Bea hated them because they weren’t the real thing to her. It was the plain old candy corn she wanted, so that’s what she got.

I stopped by the drug store this time on my way to see her. They didn’t have any smaller lots, so I bought her an entire one pound bag. That’s 1/35 millionth of the national supply of candy corn.

The weather outside was frightful, so we passed the time popping those fake kernels of fake sugary corn into our mouths, chasing them down with chamomile tea (no honey), and listening to Aunt Bea’s favorite music. That would be jazz.

The cynic in me wondered if her obsession with jazz was one reason that Bea never married. I enjoyed sitting with her and listening to some smooth, relaxing music. But I’ve never been a jazz person. I don’t ‘feel it’ and I don’t ‘get it’ any more than the average person does. Not any more than Aunt Bea’s cat Felicity did.

Felicity sat on a nearby windowsill, looking at us both like we were crazy, and slowly wagging her fuzzy white tail back and forth. And then Aunt Bea kicked into gear. I had known it was coming.

If she could be satisfied with the music and not evangelize, I’d be happy to sit there and listen with her. But it was always an opportunity to educate and try to convert me.

Aunt Bea had the zeal of a missionary and jazz was her religion. She was trying to win me to the cause for years. Nothing she did on that score ever worked. Just as some religious people don’t understand that others do not need to be like them in order to be happy (and, in fact, might be happier NOT being like them), Aunt Bea doesn’t understand that anyone could find happiness in any musical faith other than jazz.

As with religious fundamentalism, they are too blind to see that it does more harm than good to push something that others don’t want. It would be like forcing candy corn down someone's throat because it's your favorite candy and you think they need to like it, but in the end all that proves is that the fundamentalist is fundamentally unable to appreciate the diversity of life. God would tell them to let people make their own choices and so would Ella Fitzgerald.

If there was a jazz gene, Bea had it and I didn’t. I can enjoy a good jazzy tune, but that’s the extent of my interest. Any other time, I’d rather listen to something else. Instead, Bea would tell me how jazz was the music of life, the sound and the rhythm of everything that makes the world go round. For the 50th time, I heard the story about how Count Basie’s car broke down and my aunt happened to be driving by; she gave him a ride to one of his gigs at a club, clearly believing that it was the closest she had been to greatness.

It’s as if scientists studying small particles should be able to look into a microscope and see the jazz particles in the DNA of every living thing.

I kept nodding with a smile on my face, but inside I was thinking “whatever”. This was about the time when I started looking at my watch. Trigger my next excuse, which was usually that I had to leave for a meeting.

There was another factor that was edging me out the door. Her nurse was due to arrive any minute and Aunt Bea had been trying to set me up with the poor woman. After my divorce and the growing bald spot on my head, she thought I was on borrowed time for trying to find the next Mrs. Right.

She might have been correct about that, but her nurse wasn’t the one. It had nothing to do with the fact that the woman weighed more than I did. Bea’s nurse was clearly lesbian and she often talked about her “best friend” with whom she lived (“life partner” or “spouse” in more liberal company, I was sure). Good for her for being in a happy and committed relationship. As far as I was concerned, consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want with their private parts. Happiness comes in many shades. Just don’t expect me to go on a date with her because she’s not really single.

One time, when Bea was pushing me about going out with this nurse, I tried explaining to my aunt that some women prefer the company of other women. She was dismissive. Her generation rarely saw things that way.

In Aunt Bea’s mind, any reasonable young woman ought to drop whatever she was doing to fall into marriage with an eligible young man like me (because I was her nephew). Not so young anymore, I wanted to point out, but I was still less than half her age. Ugh. There came a time during every visit with Bea where I needed to cut my losses and hit the road.

I wished my aunt well and took my leave, telling her I’d see her again next Thursday (since I had that day off from work, I would be visiting her twice this month). Part of the problem, I reflected as I drove away, was that I’d married a nurse, the wife named Serena who I had recently divorced. So in Bea’s world, the proverbial Venn diagram overlapped when it came to the nephew’s wives and the nurses.

This visit had been entirely predictable. But I was glad I lived close enough that I could see her regularly. As I left Aunt Beatrice’s retirement home, I had no idea that next Thursday’s visit would be something completely different.

This is a fiction series in several parts. Please check back soon for the other parts, coming soon to a blog near you. The image above is public domain. It's not really my aunt, since I've never had an Aunt Bea and I'm not really the person in the story either. It's fiction.


This story could go anywhere. I like how you left it open-ended, so you're not trapped into taking it a certain direction yet.

I will admit that I used to love those little pumpkin candies. They were made of the same stuff as the candy corn, but I thought they tasted much better. I don't know why, but I would swear that I could taste a difference. Regardless, I don't eat that stuff anymore. Can't believe that I ever did!

Looking forward to seeing what happens with the (unnamed) protagonist and his Aunt Bea. I know a thing or two about unnamed protagonists, so no judgement. ;)

The next few parts have been written and will be shared soon. Unnamed, yes, but only because he didn't want to spend more time describing himself.

A while ago I was writing a story about The Man With No Name. I started calling him "No Name" because it was too much to say "themanwithnoname" every time.

It's probably wise that you wrote the next few parts already. I just started the story on a whim and then had to keep making things up as I went. At times I would get restricted on what I could do as a result of other things that I had happen earlier. It's still fun to do, but it's challenging not to wait until the end and then publish.

Fiction I like the stories that you tell at first I thought it was your aunt Bea and that the one in the picture was her but I can see that it's just a story that I also like for the sweet corn I've eaten a little of this is not so common in my country although we have a month that is dry where there is a lot of corn

I'll come back when this part 2 of this fiction story @donkeypong

It's candy rather than corn. Just made to look slightly like corn. Trust me, you're not missing anything.

Aunt Bea, I like this story, I've eaten sweet corn popcorn but I have not tasted the sweet corn I like to put some corn on the corn, I really like corn, in my country we do something with corn we put it to a blender and it is like a dough, a bit of sugar, milk and egg is added. We make something sweet called cachapa

Maybe someone has a Bea aunt who likes sweet corn

I'll wait for the second part I like to read you

It's just candy that looks like corn.

Damn, you are such a good writer. Can't believe you got me glued to this story that I didn't even want it to finish. I enjoyed every bit of it and can't wait to have the rest released. I wish I could write fictional stories as good as this also...

Glued? You give me too much credit. Melt that candy and it can be just as sticky.

I think Aunt Bea has a point I know in some African culture, women are always expected to marry immediately they're of age, not considering ambitions or even dreams.
Beautiful story @donkeypong your relationships closeness with aunt Bea seems funny lol you always seems to disagree lol.
Beautifully written there.

This lady has a different reason, which will soon become clear.

Wao dear another wonderful story.You are best writer.Why anti never married.Married is more important in our life.She doing very well his job.She is so hard working lady.Thats great news she recover soon.She likes to much candies.Very interesting impressive story.I always like your stories.Thanks for sharing dear.

Look! I almost believed you. But I was having doubts when Aunty Bea herself never got married yet she wants you to get married.

And from the story, I can understand that you are a liberal, as everyone should be allowed to practice their own opinions and beliefs.

Yet, Aunty Bea, is a funny brilliant character, you in their times samesex was still very much a taboo. And you are still very much rich in the story, with the candy corns bought

I was still less than half her age.

How old was she?)

This story is great! I really enjoyed it.

Beautiful story telling @donkeypong
In most of the Indian families the expectations are same. Men and women should marry the opposite sex and by certain age, preferably by 25-30 yrs of age.
Waiting for the next part

An amazing story, my friend and you shared with us a part of your life where your aunt became the main character. I thought that all people of her age lived and were raised at another time. Their views on life are certainly different from ours and these moments related to corn have clearly shown me that they want what they are used to and any changes are not delicate to them! Thank you @donkeypong

No, it's not my life. It's fiction.

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