I emptied the bag of chonk'lits, all 4 pounds of them, into the decorative wooden bowl in our front room.
"You should not eat such stuff!" said my wife.
I looked at her in wide-eyed innocence.
"Eat chonk'lits?" I said. "Me? These are not for me!"
I professed an altruistic explanation.
"These chonk'lits are for the Easter trick-or-treaters," I said, with a straight face.
The Good Life
She snorted. She muttered something about "geezer" and "gonna kill himself."
We have had metaphorical Easter season trick-or-treaters. They are called, "grandchildren." More are due soon.
Cody, just 2, energetically climbs up onto the seat of the yellow wing chair, then onto its arm, one hand grasping the bookcase whose top supports the coveted bowl of chonk'lits.
His mom, younger daughter Natalie, is a speech-hearing teacher/counselor, well-versed in sign language.
"No, Cody," she would say. "You already had one. Wait until after supper."
Cody's eyebrows would droop. His lips would move, barely, and a soft sing-song protest would emerge. His hands would make the sign for "More!" first energetically, then desperately, as his mother and I both suppressed chuckles at his emerging efforts at persuading parents to change their minds.
The kid is so cute that, left to myself, I would have given in. Natalie held firm, at least this once.
The scene is likely to be repeated. Grandson Wyatt, two months shy of three years, will have arrived by the time this article sees print. Wyatt likes chonk'lits, too. But it is his father Michael whose eyebrows arch upward and whose grin widens at the sight of the bowl and its contents, peener-butter chonk'lits.
I have every confidence that if I tell Michael that, before he can have chonk'lits, he must blurt out, "Trick or Treat!" he will do so, though the occasion is Easter and not Halloween.
Chonk'lits make most people fudge reality (pun intended).
My wife's younger son, Evan, is impervious to chonk'lits. He is otherwise quite normal, even amiable, so his indifference to peener-butter chonk'lits is accepted with silent pity. He knoweth not what he misseth, but since he devours my spaghetti by the half-pound, he is otherwise well nourished.
It is a tossup as to which is the more perfect food, peener-butter chonk'lits or Mom's recipe for spaghetti sauce and meatballs. Nectar of the gods, in my opinion.
So I store up the treasures for the Easter trick-or-treaters and, if they ask nicely, I make spaghetti sauce.
The "trick-or-treaters" are not limited to grandchildren. Two brothers-in-law also grin sheepishly if the crinkles associated with their cellophane-unwrapping prompt glances in their direction.
In truth, though, there needs to be a limit on the availability of chonk'lits.
In my younger and more high-metabolism years, Oreo cookies were as much of a staple in my homes as were bread and milk.
For most of about two decades, I worked primarily afternoon and evening shifts, coming home near midnight.
It was nothing special for me to eat an entire row of Oreo cookies, slathered in milk - and that row was from the larger "family size" package, not the diminutive imitations sold today.
Alas, those days also included copious consumption of caffeine, in the form of coffee and Coca-Cola. I easily drank a half-dozen helpings of each in a given day.
Eventually, my body rebelled.
These days, coffee consumption ends by lunchtime. Coca-Cola? I haven't had one in months. I do succumb to a variant, a Dr. Pepper, sometimes when we grab "fast food" while traveling. But at home, we drink water and tea, with milk reserved primarily for cooking unless grandchildren are visiting.
And the beautiful dark brown teardrop-shaped wooden bowl atop the bookcase? It lies empty in between visitations.
My variant of the mantra from the movie "Field of Dreams," which was "If you build it, they will come," is "If we have it in the house, I will eat it."
So the Oreos leave when the grandchildren leave. I have even been known - this will shock my grown children into speechlessness - to toss an uneaten half-package or so into the trash. The children well remember the days when Dad would eat his row of Oreos but they were rationed: two Oreos after supper in elementary school years, three in junior high years, four in high school years. They quickly got paper routes or other jobs, and bought (and hid and ate) their own variants of my Oreos.
Today, the chonk'lits, cookies, coffee, Cokes and caffeine of my younger years are but a memory as I lurch into the senescence that goes with being in my 70s.
Moderation. Yes, moderation. Moderation is the key.
But sometimes, and the Easter season is one of those sometimes, I just can't seem to find my keys and reach instead for chonk'lits.
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.