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The Popsicle Quest

It was late afternoon. The kids had been home all day and Mama was heading off to work in the ER overnight. It was a pretty dreary day, grey clouds threatening rain combined with a heavy humidity.

Max and Talia were bored. They'd done the Play-doh thing, they'd had their daily allotment of the insideous brain control device, they'd ran around outside, and now they needed something else. The idea entered their little minds that they needed a treat.

I thought about it. As the authority figure, I knew I could deny them this. I could point out that suppertime was coming up and I didn't want them to spoil their appetites. And I also knew that there would be much resistance to my denial, possibly involving screaming. My hesitation gave them the opening they needed to press their demands further. The treat was now a reality, all that was unclear was what the treat would be.

Talia raised the idea of going next door to get a popsicle. The couple next door have no dog and long ago started giving treats to our dog to compensate. We asked them to stop, and they said they would, but every morning Musette trots over there to sit outside their door until she gets her cookie. And she always does. They also have no kids, and have started handing out candy to my kids to compensate. Horrible stuff too, for the most part: sorbitol-sweetened hard candy that have been sitting in a bowl for a couple of years. They finally ran out of that stuff and now have taken to giving popsicles to Max and Talia.

But I really don't like the idea of my kids begging at the neighbors. Knowing I had to compete, I offered to take the kids into town to buy them popsicles at the depanneur and play at the playground. They enthusiastically agreed.

We piled in the Improbabus, waved goodbye to Mama, and drove off. But on the short drive to town it started to rain. Hard. This ruined my plans. Though I would still be able to buy the popsicles, we would have nowhere to eat them. So I had to think.

I inquired whether they would be willing to accept ice cream as a substitute for popsicles? That way we could go to the McDonald's playroom and I could relax and have a coffee. No, they replied, my suggestion was not acceptable. They had been promised popsicles and nothing else would suffice.

I had to think now. I headed onto the highway into town and tried to think of somewhere you could buy popsicles near somewhere you could eat them inside. The only possibility? A mall. But which mall? I was approaching downtown Gatineau (formerly Hull) and could only think of two places: a fairly upscale mall with fountains and fashionable boutiques, and a dingy, ancient mall anchored by Zeller's and Provigo. The dingy mall was more likely to have popsicles, so that was our destination.

And inside it was dingy. And deserted. Most of the shops were empty and I didn't find a little magazine/cigarette/soft drink kiosk that could possibly sell popsicles. I was getting desperate and the kids were getting a little whiney. We went to the Zeller's, which made our regular Wal-Mart look like Bloomingdales. After wandering for ten minutes, I concluded there were no popsicles to be found here. On to the Provigo at the other end of the mall.

Here we found some popsicles. But not singles, only in packages of twelve. Whatever, lets buy them and get out. But which ones? For those of you that haven't shopped for popsicles in a long time, I can tell you the offerings are completely different from what you remember. Almost all are in the shape of some popular children's character, Spongebob and Dora being the best represented. I wasn't going to buy those. How about these 'Carnival' ones? No, they look like they've been in this freezer for at least three years. Finally I settled on Bugz -- popsicles with gummy bugs sprinkled within. I bought that one item, opened it up, and handed them each one of the wretched things.

Okay, that was kind of dull, I guess. But that's my life.

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