Tuesday, April 7, 2009


“So I hang an empty smile
Beneath my empty eyes
And go out
For a walk”

-"Perfect" The The (1983)

Every spring time from my freshman year of college at Pacific in 1990 till my last spring in 2001 before becoming a dialysis patient, I used to get a serious craving for Snickers candy bars - the big ones. It started at Pacific most likely because I didn't like the food at the cafeteria and had very little money. Plus with the candy machine in the basement of the Student Center, it gave me an excuse to wander. I used to try the coin on a string trick in hopes the candy machine would be fooled into giving me a Snickers for free. This never worked. If I had enough change, I would buy my candy and slowly eat it as I would walk around the campus and sometimes beyond and enjoy the solitude of an early evening. This long walk for a Snickers tradition continued on for years no matter where I lived. I didn't realize that I had started this tradition until it had to end. When I had my kidneys removed, I could no longer eat chocolate, or nuts, or caramel (or much of anything for that matter), so the tradition ended and hasn't restarted since. Today, was a nice weather day that is now ending with cloud cover. For some reason, it reminded me of those long springtime walks in search of a Snickers bar. I remember one when I had to move back to the coast in the early 90s, where I found that I had wandered all the way down to D River Wayside before finding the candy bar at Jo Jo Land just in time to refuel for the walk back home. Another time, when living near Lloyd Center in NE Portland, I found myself circling the block by the old (now gone) Ferrell's ice cream parlor and considered cheating on Snickers and grabbing a snack inside. The most memorable Snickers journey occured in 2000, when I wandered out the door after having just listened to Sleater-Kinney's "All Hands on the Bad One" CD. I had the first couple of lines from the opening song "Ballad of a Ladyman" looping endlessly in my head:

"eye cream and thigh cream, how 'bout a get
high cream?"

It was an early evening sunday and the streets were quiet. I walked from Goose Hollow into the PSU campus area and the warm day was turning overcast and I could feel a threat of rain coming on, so I quickened my pace. The streets were very quiet and the same refrain from the same song not only was on an endless loop, but I had begun to imitate Corin Tucker's powerful and unique vocal style audibly. I was feeling good, but I didn't want to get rained on, so I looped back towards the west side of I-405, where I had planned to track down the Snickers bar. As I turned a corner in the shadow of a student apartment building, I noticed a couple walking the opposite direction across the street from me. Before I could quiet myself, I had already belted out the intensifying "get high cream" line with my best effort. The couple both looked my way, clearly hearing me, but simply continued on their way. It took me a moment, but I became certain that the woman was Corin Tucker. Part of me liked the idea of her hearing me singing one of her songs while strolling down the street, but most of me didn't feel good about it at all. However, I continued on my way, now preoccupied with an internal debate whether I had just seen who I thought I had. Once I found an open mini-mart, I found my Snickers, and made my way out onto the streets again. A light rain had begun to fall, so I ate the candy faster than normal. As I passed the east side of Lincoln High School, still about 8 blocks from home, I tossed the wrapper into one of those huge cement public trash cans with the metal top. I noticed that the lid had scrawled around the circular opening "Life is a Hole." Ever since seeing that, I've always wanted and have tried to write a short story that uses that line to some poignant end. Nothing has worked so far (any ideas?). Maybe it's time to restart the tradition and go for a walk that promises a treat. I need some inspiration.


  1. Long walk to Pyramid brewery? Or perhaps purchasing a bag of M&M's on your solitude walk and slowly dropping them on the ground to find your way back home. On your descent back, you can pick them up one by one, wipe them off and place them in your mouth. Than you'll be one with nature...

  2. There's something about the walkabout being part of the Snickers craving that I love in this piece. The only thing I ever craved at Pacific was the opposite of any food group you could get there - vegetables. My kingdom for a salad!