The Goodie Bowl
When I was a little girl, we had a Goodie Bowl.
It… wasn’t actually a bowl. No, it was a brown jar, with a screw-top lid: apparently its predecessor in the “goodie” line had, indeed, been a bowl, and the name just stuck. I mean, I’m guessing at this, because I don’t actually remember the bowl that preceded OUR bowl: our bowl had always been there, and, as far as I was concerned, it always would. [/FORESHADOWING]
The Goodie Bowl may not have been a bowl, however, but it WAS always stocked with “goodies” – sweets, biscuits… well, mostly sweets and biscuits, really. As a little girl, one of the highlights of my day would be when I was permitted to select something from the Goodie Bowl, which would be ceremoniously taken down and opened up, revealing the wonders within. As a slightly older girl, meanwhile, I just helped myself, and didn’t give it a second thought, carelessly opening and closing the jar, and stuffing it back into the little kitchen alcove it lived in.
As a MUCH older girl, meanwhile, (so, just a few years ago, then), one day I was at my parents’ house, taking something out of the Goodie Bowl (sometimes I go round there JUST to take stuff out of the Goodie Bowl…), when I noticed the lid was cracked, and had a little chip out of the side of it. This was unsurprising, given that the bowl in question is actually older than I am (In fact, what IS surprising is that it had made it that far WITHOUT getting broken), but it concerned me greatly.
“God,” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if something happened to the Goodie Bowl! It would be like losing a part of my childhood!” [MORE FORESHADOWING]
From then on, I was always extra-careful in my dealings with the Goodie Bowl, treating it with the care it deserved, in order to make sure it continued to live a long, happy life, as Holder of All of the Goodies.
It had occurred to me that the Goodie Bowl might one day be broken, but one thing that hadn’t even crossed my mind was the thought that my parents might just decide to throw it out. I hadn’t considered this, because it JUST WOULDN’T HAPPEN. My parents, you see, are like me. They see the sentimental value in inanimate objects – not quite to the extent I do, obviously, but they can generally be trusted not to, you know, ruthlessly toss out a piece of your childhood, as if it ain’t no thang.
My dad in particular is notorious for this – actually, now I come to think of it, my dad DOES do this to the extent I do. In fact, I think he probably surpasses me in this respect, because any time my mum wants to change anything in the house, she has to work up to it for YEARS, and then accept that my dad will probably take the thing that has been replaced, and store it in the garage. The garage which contains, in no particular order:
** An ancient carpet from my grandparents’ house
** My childhood bicycle.
** A ride-on car, dating from when I was about three. I’m not joking.
** Pretty much everything else you can imagine. Lost something? It will be in my dad’s garage. The ‘Clear Out the Garage’ campaign is now in something like its 5th year. This year, I’m told a couple of boxes made their way to the bin. I don’t know any more about it, though, because it’s not a subject we can discuss in front of my dad.
It is against this background of The Goodie Bowl And Its Place in My Personal History that the story I’m about to tell you unfolds.
It was a Saturday evening. Terry and I were visiting my parents, and at some point my dad told me there were fresh Goodies in the Bowl.
Now, it had been quite some time since I’d last opened up the Bowl of Goodness, but I went automatically to the place it lives, and reached in to take it out. The Goodie Bowl has its own little alcove in my parents’ kitchen (Er, they didn’t build the kitchen around the Goodie Bowl, by the way: it just worked out that there was an alcove that fit it. It’s not, like, a SHRINE, or anything. Or I don’t THINK so, anyway…), and this alcove is so positioned that the Goodie Bowl isn’t in full view when you’re in the kitchen. So, I reached in to pull it out, and the first thing I noticed was that my parents had apparently attached a little handle to the lid.
Oookaaay. This honestly seemed a bit strange even to me, because, look, the thing is older than I am, and it’s not even like it’s particularly amazing looking. (Sorry, Goodie Bowl. Love you, though!) I’d never throw it out, obviously, but I wouldn’t continue to patch it up for decades either: I’d just buy a new damn Goodie Bowl, and use that instead.
Which, it turns out, is exactly what my parents had done. Because when I removed the Goodie Bowl from its alcove and looked down at it, I discovered that what I was holding in my hands was not The Goodie Bowl at all. No, it was some new-fangled biscuit tin, all sleek and modern and…
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!” I shrieked, staring at it in horror.
My dad silently materialised from the living room.
“Oh,” he said sadly. “I see you’ve found the new Goodie Bowl.”
“NEW GOODIE BOWL?” I spluttered. “WHAT THE WHAT NOW? Where’s the OLD Goodie Bowl?”
“She threw it out,” my dad intoned, mournfully, nodding towards the living room, where my mum was drinking wine, like a spider in its lair. (Er, a wine-drinking spider, obviously. Come on, there must be some, surely?) “We were in TK Maxx one day, and I noticed … THIS … in the cart…” We both looked accusingly at the ‘Biscuit Tin’ (I refuse to give it the title ‘Goodie Bowl’, for it does not deserve it…), which was sitting there smugly on the counter.*
“Go on,” I said tersely.
“I asked your mother what was going on,” he said. “I asked what was wrong with the existing Goodie Bowl. I thought maybe it was… you know.”
I nodded, horrified.
“And… was it?” I asked eventually. I didn’t want to ask… but I HAD TO KNOW.
“No,” my dad told me. “She said she was just ‘fed up’ with it. She… made me throw it out.”
WELL. I ran through to the living room, and confronted my mum, who had overheard this conversation, and was now laughing her socks off.
“I’m sorry,” she said, through tears of laughter. “I don’t mean to laugh, because I can tell this is important to you, but it’s JUST. SO. FUNNY!”
But it wasn’t funny. They had thrown out my childhood friend (Well, my childhood Goodie Bowl. I was a weird kid, but I wasn’t THAT weird…), and they hadn’t given it a second though. (Well, ONE of them hadn’t.) If they could replace the Goodie Bowl in such cavalier fashion, what else could they get rid of? Ted? My news books? ME?
I did a quick sweep of the room to check there was nothing else missing, then returned to face the culprits.
“I’m disappointed in you,” I told my mum, who was still laughing like a drain. “But I’m also disappointed in YOU!” I turned to my dad, who seemed to have a better grasp of the seriousness of the situation. Which he WOULD, given that he never throws out anything without a fight.
“I just can’t believe that YOU of all people threw out the Goodie Bowl!” I told him. “I mean, you once brought a single glove and a used pen back in from the bin!”
“That was a perfectly good glove…” my dad started to interrupt, but I wasn’t done.
“How could you save all that STUFF, and yet throw out the Goodie Bowl?!” I said, incensed. “I just can’t believe it!”
My mum’s eyes narrowed.
“I can’t believe it either,” she said, looking at my dad suspiciously. “You DID throw out the Goodie Bowl, like I told you?”
My dad said nothing. Silently, he sat down and put on his shoes. Then he left the room. We heard the outside door close. Silence.
Not two minutes later, he was back. And what was that in his hands?
ONLY THE FREAKING GOODIE BOWL.
Yes, my dad had saved the bowl, and thus, had saved the day. Never again will we make fun of him for keeping everything. Well, other than in this story, obviously. But after this, we will never make fun of him again, because as I said to my mum that night, THANK GOD MY DAD IS LIKE THIS. Or the Goodie Bowl would be gone, and God knows what else would be, too.
I brought it home with me, obviously. Well, I couldn’t just leave it there, could I? Having been so keen to get rid of it, however, my mum was curiously reluctant to hand it over. “It’s just… you can be quite clumsy,” she pointed out, not incorrectly. “What if you break it?”
I won’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, obviously, but I didn’t see much of an option, so I’ve taken on the mantle of Guardian of the Goodie Bowl. I’ve put it in the bathroom:
“What the hell is that?” said Terry, who’d been present during Goodie-Bowl-Gate, but who had simply tuned the whole conversation out, and continued reading the news on his phone. It’s nice that he can do that. I suspect it’s a skill he developed only as a result of living with me.
“That, Terry,” I told him, “Is a Goodie Bowl. We must guard it with our lives.”
And we will. Or we’ll try, anyway.
*And there weren’t even any Goodies in it! My dad had been totally wrong about that: IT WAS A FREAKING EMPTY JAR!