I was about 12 when my Dad pulled the Caprice into the parking lot of the Poke 'N Tote. It was the closest convenience store between our house and town, and Dad had a hankering for cinnamon-flavored jaw breakers. He handed me a $5 bill, and asked me to go in and get 'em.
"How many?" I asked.
"$5 dollars worth. Get as many they'll give you for five bucks."
I quickly counted on my fingers, and thought through my goesintas. I wasn't sure what a single jaw breaker sold for at the Poke "N Tote, but I knew the total amount would come to a pile. I tried to get out of it, and gave my Dad excuse after excuse. He deflected each and every one. I snatched up the $5 note and headed inside the store.
As I walked up to the counter, I quickly located the large bucket of cinnamon jaw breakers behind the counter. More angst hit me when I realized that they had to count out the candy. Several curse words flooded my head.
I handed the girl the $5 bill. "My Dad wants all the jaw breakers this will buy."
She didn't immediately take the money, and instead just stared at me as if she was hearing a new language for the first time. After several seconds, she said: "But, we sell 'em for a nickle apiece. That's 100 jaw breakers."
Yeah. I know. Count 'em out, lady.
The lady took the money, and started counting. As she piled the jaw breakers on the counter-top, she kept track out loud:
"12, 13, 14..."
Someone got in line behind me, with nothing in his hands to buy. I figured he was getting smokes. I remember hoping he was patient.
"27, 28, 29, 30..."
A customer stepped inside and asked the clerk to turn on the gas pump. She stopped counting to flip a switch, then stepped back to the big candy bucket. "Where was I?" she asked.
How the hell did I know. I wanted to run.
"43, 44, 45, you're Dad really likes jaw breakers, huh?"
The guy behind me starts shifting his weight.
"86, 87, 88..."
There were people 4 deep behind me at that point. I was sweating, and sick to my stomach. It seemed like I was watching the count take place in slow motion. Then, I realized after she counted out the 100, she had to bag them all up. I grabbed a paper bag from the stack beside the cash register and started throwing them in myself.
She reached 100, I tossed those into the bag and headed out the door. I threw the bag in the front seat, and crawled into the back.
"Thanks!" my Dad said. "You wanna jaw breaker?"
No, I didn't. And I'm not sure I've had one since.