The Prize

Mallo Cups, those round miniature pies:
a crust of chocolate with a marshmallow creme center,
two to a pack, wrapped in black crinkly foil.
My sisters would nibble theirs to prolong the pleasure.
Always the glutton, I’d finish one off in a single bite.
Delicious as they were to an eleven year-old,
what won my devotion and loyalty was something that
had no taste, but fueled my hunger even more.
Each package came with a coin card of
points that could be collected for fabulous prizes.
Unlike most of my friends who simply saved enough
to redeem for additional Mallo Cups,
I wanted something more – to make a fashion statement.
Even if it meant searching the trash bins
outside every candy store for discarded coin cards,
stealing my sisters’ accumulated points,
and risking tooth decay with frequent purchases.
Never mind that it was one of the most expensive ticket
items advertised in the prize catalog,
I planned to save enough cardboard currency and
splurge on what would surely make me
the envy of the neighborhood: a Colonial Tri-Corner Hat.
When my bank account cha-chinged,
impatience soared as I waited the five long weeks
it took for the package to arrive.
When it did, I was the proudest boy on the block.
Donning that hat, I was transformed into
Paul Revere, ready to gallop on his midnight ride.
Perhaps the weather was dry in 1785,
but it rained on my maiden journey, and instantly
that triangular Napoleon disintegrated
like a Mallo Cup vanishing into an open mouth.
Anticipation displaced by disappointment,
I was taught a lesson on how capitalism works.
My sweet tooth was not assuaged.


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