The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

We older parents get a lot of input from our older children. One of my learning curves has focussed on chocolate. It is a focus for me for reasons about to become clear.

For those of you unfamiliar with any chocolate past a Milky Way bar–which pretty much describes my limit, up and until The Young Girls started bringing home fancier and different chocolate.

Along with this new take on chocolate has come their desire to not gain weight, so chocolate with less sugar in it has widened my knowledge base considerably.

Chocolate strength is measured by the percentage of actual cocoa bean–which bears the special flavor–in the stuff they’re eating.

If there is no percentage rating on what you’re eating, it’s mostly sugar. I have found that my limit is 70 percent chocolate. (Cocoa) Past that, I liken what my kids are eating to bear more resemblance to tree bark than I like.

In my stay at the tropical inn to which I was assigned in Vietnam back in the late sixties, one of the foods we were given came from old C-rations, left over I think from WWI. Canned beans and wieners, ham-something in water, and others even tastier.

Some of these C-rats still had cigarettes in them. Well.What can I say. But although there may or may not have been smokes in there, there was one more thing.

Because the army knew we liked candy bars, they put some in those rations. They were called to the best of my knowledge “Tropical Chocolate.” The “tropical” meant that they were composed of what seemed like that tree bark I mentioned earlier. They did that so they wouldn’t melt in the jungle heat.

Imagine how good they were! 

They were awful

Tex was a big kid who came into base camp after I had been there a while. A FNG. (Fine New Guy.) Because of that, and because he would eat anything, he seemed to like those bark bars of chocolate counterfeit materials. So we all gave him ours. 

“Here,” we told him, “save these up. The Village children love them.”

Yeah, I know. Suspicious behavior on our part, but then, what good are FNGs, really.

Tex and I were assigned a dump run to a garbage pit, driving a deuce-and-a-half truck, full of garbage. The drive took us through Quang Tri Village. Tex being new thought all this was just an extension of what seemed to him to be a Boy Scout Jamboree. We hadn’t been attacked since he had arrived, you see.

I was driving; he was gawking around. He thought that since he had so many “candy bars,” that he now could take them and toss them to the Village kids as we eased on through the Ville. We of course encouraged this enterprise, knowing already what was going to happen. (We’d already had it happen to us, you know.)

As we were driving along, Tex was hanging out the window, tossing these small chocolate bricks to the kids. Everything was just grand, he thought.

Until they started firing them back at him. I supose he had given out a couple dozen of them, and they came back in a speedy barrage. They bounced off the truck. Some ricocheted inside.

Tex was discouraged, as you can imagine. 

To him, we were a one-truck parade handing out treats to needy children. To them, we were a kind of victim, one to be taken advantage of.

He was even more discouraged to find out that while he was hanging out the window, they had taken his watch.

Ah, chocolate. Brings some memories back every time I eat some.