It’s a trip I’ve made a couple of times a month for the past 4 years. I call it ‘securing provisions’. It involves ‘chocolate’.
Ben Franklin’s, on 30th Street, is a craft store, which also carries multiple brands of Ben Heggy’s candies. But I am entrusted with securing only one type: dark chocolate peanut clusters.
Each visit also resembles a scene from Groundhog Day. I have, literally, the same conversation every time I stop in, with the elderly woman who waits on me:
Her: It’s a nice day to ride today.
Me: Well, you know what they say….every day is a good day to ride, it’s just that some days are better than others.
Her (chuckling): That’s true.
She grabs the bag with the clusters and puts them on the scale. It’s generally $15.00 or so that we can’t afford, but it’s a luxury that we squeeze into the budget.
Her: Looks like $15.82.
Her: You know my daughter has a bike.
Me: (knowing that she has a Honda Rebel 250, but that she hurt her hip and hasn’t been riding it much) Yeah, you know I think you told me once –
Her (interrupting) It’s a small Honda. I can’ think of –
Me (interrupting) Maybe…a Honda Rebel?
Her: (excited) That’s it!
I put my wallet into my pocket and grab the bag.
Her: Well, you be careful out there. Those people in cars don’t see the motorcycles for some reason.
Me: I know. I sure will be.
I walk out of Ben Franklin’s and over to my bike. Across the lot is Nathan’s Patio, with a good number of bikes parked in front. Mostly black ones. Mostly Harley-Davidsons. The riders who are inside take frequent breaks from their draft Budweisers to come out and smoke. I have enough issues operating a 2-wheeled death-trap completely sober, so I’m always amazed at how these people can drain a keg, at 4 in the afternoon, and then jump on their Street Glides.
The traffic in the distance, as Route 62 heads towards the on-ramp to I-77, is noisy. I stand next to my bike and I open the bag. Individually-wrapped hunks of dark-chocolate euphoria, speckled with generous blobs of peanut-chunks. I’m not sure what the ingredient is, whether it’s real or synthetic, but it’s something that exists in Heggy’s candy that is absent everywhere else. And it’s a taste-profile that has entranced my taste-buds since childhood.
I don’t even like pretzels all that much, but those crunchy fibers embedded into that white chocolate erupt into a mini-fireworks display in my mouth. I chew and then nod at the nicotine-inhaling Harley riders who stare at me and my small bike. They do not nod back.
But that’s alright. I count on it. Just as I do this brief, solitary stop, on my way home. Before I turn the ignition-key, I send a text to Donna:Provisions secured. OMW.
‘On my way’. Yep. I’m entrusted with a mission, and I cannot fail.