The Stick Candy

My brother-in-law has an unparalleled sweet tooth, unlike anyone I've ever known, including myself.  He could eat dessert for dinner and then still need dessert after that.  In spite of this trait, he manages to stay trim, and his heart hasn't yet exploded. 

When Chris visits us in Philadelphia, he waits at Capogiro for them to open in the mornings, and becomes cross with the staff members because they don't have more than two flavors of gelato on display before 10 AM.  His mood changes from pleased to ornery in 0.2 seconds, like he's in withdrawal from heroin instead of sugar.  Later, he'll have gelato for lunch and again after dinner.  And thank goodness he does this, because I love any excuse to visit Capogiro more than once a day.

In high school, he lived in Japan as an exchange student for a few months.  If he had known that in Japan his main diet would consist of white rice and a piece of raw, bloody fish, with no sweets anywhere in sight ...

... he might have considered spending his semester in Switzerland or Germany instead.

For months on end, he tried to make it through each day without any sugar, trying to control his shakes without thinking about milkshakes, trying to change his mood from sour to sweet without thinking about Sour Patch Kids, trying to play along and snicker at Japanese humor without thinking about Snickers!

Finally one day, he stumbled upon what appeared to be a Japanese sweets shop.  It glimmered in the distance like a sunrise on the horizon.  Sweet nectar!  At last he could bathe in its glory!

Being Catholic, he atoned for the sinful abuse his sweet tooth had endured for the past semester.

Hail Sugar, Full of Calories,
Butterscotch is with Thee.
Blessed Art Thou among Fatties,
And Blessed is the Fruit of thy Womb Marzipan.
Holy Sugar, Mother of Cookies,
Pray for our Cavities,
Now and at the Hour of our Insulin Shot.

He asked his host dad to purchase the smallest item in the store.  This sounds contrary to what you might expect after having read the rest of this post, but he was ensconced in guilt, wondering if his host dad would see him as ungrateful and unappreciative of the white rice and raw, bloody fish.

He tore into the tiny candy, blindly, after so many months of deprivation, this Sugar Daddy-type item was exactly what he needed. 

And then he realized what he was eating, exactly.

Squid paste on a stick.

And thanks to his guilt over not wanting his host dad to find him ungrateful and unappreciative of the squid paste on a stick he had purchased for him, Chris ate the whole thing.

Chris has this to say about the incident:

"It was truly and honestly one of the worst moments of my life.  Just imagine any of the occasions when you've been longing for some food or drink - birthday cake, the first drink of the evening on a Friday night, hot chocolate after spending the day in the bitter cold - and then imagine it was handed to you, and looked delectable, and then you tasted it and it was SQUID!  And you had to be polite about it!  And you'd been waiting for literally months!  Imagine if your perfect-seeming wedding cake turned out to have been mistakenly made of ground squid with squid ink frosting!!!

I have to stop thinking about it now - it was 19 years ago, but I feel it just as if it were happening to me all over again now.  I think I have post-traumatic squid disorder."

**Thanks to Hyperbole and a Half for inspiring the first of what we hope will be many posts featuring Paintbrush.  Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?


  1. Wow, your brother-in-law can eat dessert for dinner and need dessert afterward, AND is still svelte. Did he sell his soul to the devil? Brilliant drawings, too, LA.

  2. I love it! Let's buy him some squid cake for his next birthday.