It was a Snickers chocolate bar that determined Shelby Cooper’s destiny.
How could a mixture of milk chocolate, peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, skim milk, lactose, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, egg whites and artificial flavour wield such magical powers? Pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable, and unwrap a Snickers bar of your own. At 488 calories, it’s more than enough fuel to get you through to the end of the story.
On the morning of November 6, 1999 fourteen-year-old Shelby received a phone call from her friend, Tammy Fox. Tammy was everything Shelby wasn’t: brash, free-spirited, and at her happiest when making an adult angry. When she walked into math class on the first day of high school two months earlier sporting a nose ring, torn jeans and combat boots, Shelby knew she had found her new idol.
Shelby didn’t wear combat boots or torn clothing. She wore cardigans and skirts that fell just below her knees. The most daring piece of fashion she owned was a red pair of Keds. All she needed was someone from the fifties to be transported through time and ask her to a sock hop dance and then she’d be set. But she didn’t want to go to a dance. She wanted to get to know the girl who had sat down next to her.
“Hey bitch, what are you up to today?” Tammy asked after Shelby had picked up the phone and said hello that November morning.
“Cleaning the house for my mom as usual and then homework,” she said not the least bit offended that Tammy had chosen a curse word for a term of endearment. “How about you?”
“Not housework, that’s for damn sure. Or homework. Who needs that shit?! Wanna hang out at the mall?”
“Sure,” Shelby said against her better judgment.
In a town of only sixteen thousand people, the mall was nothing more than an outdoor plaza that housed a discount grocery store, a pharmacy, a Mom and Pop-style hardware store, a bland family clothing store, and a really bad pizza parlour that no one knew was bad because they had yet to try anything from outside the town’s perimeters. After wandering aimlessly through the grocery and clothing stores, the two friends headed for the pizza parlour.
“What can I get you girls?” the owner asked from behind the counter. There was no table service at this pizza parlour, and only two tables where eat-in customers could sit for that matter.
“We’ll have a large with sausage, anchovies, and pepperoni,” Tammy said without first asking Shelby if she actually liked those toppings or if she even wanted to share a pizza.
“Coming right up,” the owner said before turning around to get going on their order.
Turning your back on a customer is usually no big deal, unless that customer is a fourteen-year-old determined to break the rules and Tammy was determined to break the rules that day. Placing her index finger up to her lips – the universal sign for “Shhh”, Tammy then smiled at Shelby and tilted her head in the direction of the row of chocolate bars that lined the shelf by the cash register. For some customers it wasn’t enough to indulge in a fat, greasy pizza pie. They had to have a sugary snack too. Tammy just didn’t want to pay for hers.
After pocketing a Snickers bar, Tammy looked once again at Shelby, only this time with a “Now it’s your turn” look on her face. Shelby shook her head; which generated a roll of the eyes from Tammy. Shelby wanted to be a badass too; she just didn’t want it to involve breaking the law.
“You’re such a wuss,” Tammy said after the two had finished their pizza and left the restaurant.
“Stealing’s wrong,” Shelby said in return.
“Stealing’s wrong!” Tammy then whined, mocking her friend. “You’ll never have any fun if you keep up this goody two-shoes routine of yours.”
After that day, Shelby started to distance herself from Tammy until they eventually went their separate ways. Four years later, Shelby moved to the other side of the world to study in New Zealand while Tammy went one hundred miles down the road to Toronto, without a high school diploma, to cause havoc there.
Now working for a NGO and based in the Middle East, Shelby stops every now and then to think about what may have happened to her old friend. And every now and then Tammy, one year away from being eligible for parole, manages to save enough money from her prison job to buy a Snickers bar from the commissary. Her cousin has promised her a job at his convenience store when she gets out, and she’s determined to go straight. At the very least, she’ll make sure no one swipes her favourite chocolate bar.