Growing up in a small town allowed me to get friendly with our neighbors every time we had to move to a different house. I grew up during an era where you didn't have to lock your front door at night...heck, most nights during a hot Louisiana summer we wouldn't even close the door in the hopes a light breeze would makes its way through the house.
The last house I lived in before I graduated was next door to a lady named Rowena and her young son, Damian. Rowena worked at the local beauty shop and was a single mom. Not something you saw much back then but she was friendly and seemed to have money for the kind of luxuries I could only dream of.
Sometimes when Rowena worked late she would ask me to babysit her son on the weekends. The first time she asked if I could watch Damian I was shocked to hear my mother give her permission. I was never allowed to go anywhere, but I suppose the fact I was a mature 12 year old and it was only for a couple of hours at the house next door, Mother was persuaded it was okay. It didn't even matter much to me that any money I made would end up buying cigarettes for Mother...the freedom and independence from being away from the house was intoxicating enough.
Damian was about 6 at the time and a cute kid, but I quickly realized the first time I went over to his house that his station in life far exceeded anything I could ever hope to achieve. That kid had every toy known to man and I took full advantage of playing with as much of his stuff as I could. My favorite was the Fisher Price Family Play Farm. I could play with that thing for hours and even confess to loving the animal sounds coming from the barn doors as I swung them open to let the critters out.
But it was what was in the kitchen that kept me going back every chance I could. Rowena was an extremely indulgent host and told me I could eat anything I wanted whenever I looked after Damian. Her son, not used to wondering where his next meal was coming from or what ingredients might be in it, was quite content to eat hot dogs when I came over.
I, on the other hand, stumbled across one drawer in their refrigerator that literally stopped me in my tracks. Pound after delicious pound of chocolate candy was stuffed in one of the crispers. Free for the taking and take it I did. By the handful. To someone like myself who only saw candy on the rare holiday, I simply couldn't fathom the reasoning behind having a treasure trove of goodies for whenever the sugar high mood struck you.
I don't remember much about those babysitting days beyond that toy farm and the candy, but I do remember two things...
1. Damian never had any interest EVER in eating any of that candy.
2. I knew Damian HAD to be an alien from outerspace.
It was the only way I could figure out why he would turn his nose up at the chance to dive into all that chocolatey goodness...