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Kinder Eggs

By Olaya Barr.

 

 

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1.

On the first date, Y said he was into Kinder Eggs. I was nervous that we’d have nothing in common besides our height and the color of our hair and skin. I felt relief continuing our engagement knowing that we shared this penchant.

I adore Kinder Eggs. I especially did when I was seven or eight years old and Mamá and her mother, Abuelita, would take me out to the chuchería to spoil me. There was every type of chuche you could ever want in that country. Puffy gusanitos shaped like little worms, gummy eggs, gummy Cola bottles, gummy sharks, sour ribbons and laces and tongues, chocolate anything, anything fried and covered with salt and food coloring. Kinder Eggs were my favorite. Once home, I’d quickly unwrap the foil and bite away at the milk chocolate shell to get to the little plastic toy inside. The toy often required minor assembling, clicking plastic into plastic. How rewarding it was to create a whole object out of littler objects. The assembling was maybe more fun than the chocolate, which tasted too much like advent calendar chocolate. I’d feel a pang of sorrow if in my Kinder Egg I found a complete Smurf figurine or pre-made racecar.

I also have fond associations with Kinder Eggs because they remind me of warm mornings and vivid, clashing color; of the miracle feeling of spotting something bright in the sky like a balloon or a blanket snagged up in a tree; of rainbows; of Abuelita looking like a tropical parrot in her make-up. A kind parrot, smoking Camels and repeating, “eat, eat, eat,” as she’d watch me take a bite into whatever was on my fork or in my hands.

I mentioned to Y that I ate a lot of them as a kid. Y clarified that the Kinder Eggs was a “sex thing.”

I held in my shock and then excused myself to the lady’s room where I folded my body out of the bar’s bathroom window. I would not get my Kinder imagery muddled.

I told Tina that the date went well even though it had only lasted a third of a beer.

 

 

2.

I ran into Y on the subway two weeks later. I nuzzled my face into my scarf, hoping I would blend in with all the hanging sleeping bags on the train.
“Hey! X, right?” he said. “Haven’t heard from you.. since we…got drinks?”

Why was he asking me a question when he knew thoroughly that I had abandoned him? And why have this conversation here, with three men in suits touching different parts of my body and a woman with half a dozen I <3 NY bags clipping her fingernails, shooting the detritus about her like baby grasshoppers?

“How’s it going?”
 I replied.

“Really well, actually. I got that studio space.”

“That’s great.”

“Why don’t you come check it out some time?”

I nodded, because what else.

“What stop are you getting off at?” he added.

Which stop would avoid his seaweed eyes, asking for attention or forgiveness, or expressing interest or empathy, I couldn’t tell. Next stop? Last stop? I looked at my shoes: sturdy, not ideal for athletic feats…but not too dainty either. Capable of running if needed.

“This one, actually.” The doors were opening and I squirmed out.

To my distress, Y held the doors open and maneuvered his way behind me.

“The studio’s right off the park, actually! Perfect timing!”

Where was Abuelita with her magic cane and parrot make-up when I needed her to bang a boy on the head?

As we walked together out of the grey tunnel and into the yellow light, I couldn’t help remembering my grandmother’s corny mantra: everyone deserves a second chance. It wasn’t until then that I wondered how she distinguished between a person who deserved to be bopped like a whack-o-mole and one who earned a pat on the head. Intuition like migratory birds’, I suppose she had.

 

 

photo by Olaya Barr

 

 

3.

Y suggested we sit on the grass on the knoll on the hill overlooking the big fieldwhere muscle boys play soccer and girls drink lemonade. I was never taught to say “no,” so I said nothing. We sat, and I looked around appreciating that we were in broad daylight. Y began telling me about his childhood. Things we never got to on the first date. He said he was an East-Coast-suburb baby. I imagined him in grocery carts at a FoodTown, munching fries at a Burger King, staring at screens at Lincoln Cinemas, slurping a big brown drink on a red velvet seat. These things were comfortingly familiar. I had liked velvet seats as a kid. Until Tina told me that sometimes people placed needles laced with infectious diseases on them to spread epidemics like AIDS like wildfire across a population. I didn’t say that to Y and I let him keep talking.

He said he wished he had been less of a suburban baby and more of a rural baby: one raised alongside cows, licked by dogs, a country bumpkin baby speaking French and drinking from an udder. His idealized concept of childhood was very different than mine, but I felt more and more secure realizing that Y was a fantasizer like myself.

In my ideal babyhood, I would have been playing under a coconut tree at all hours of the day, eating fresh pineapple with my first teeth, wearing tropical lei. My best friend, a howler monkey with perfect pitch.

“I loved Hawaii. It was so, so colorful,” he said. Y was turning out to be a simple, tender man.

We watched women in saris play tug-of-war in the field. They reminded Y of samosas. They reminded me of that muddy river in India where ashen corpses float like canoes parting chocolate water. I said that part out loud and he responded with, “X, I really like you.”

I laughed, imagining the women in saris arriving on boats from deep suburban forests, discovering an underground river with rat kings and turtle kings and Indian deities leading the way. He smiled at my laugh.

I told Y it was nice getting to know him better, but I had to go, to a meeting.

 

 

4.

On my walk home, I felt celebratory and proud that I had followed Abuelita’s advice. Tina hadn’t been totally off in setting me up with X. We both appreciated samosas and bright colors. I skipped home and made peas and sauce with noodles on top. I picked at my toenails and ingrown hairs.

I felt good.

 

 

 

 

5.

The next day, I heard my apartment buzzer’s shrill buzz-buzz at around 11am. I put on my banana slippers and peeked out the window. Empty stoop. I grabbed a wok for just in case and walked down to the apartment entrance. On the steps of my stoop was a long box wrapped in shiny blue paper. The note said, “For X. Yesterday was lovely.” I looked left and looked right down the sidewalk. No one.

I took the gift up to my apartment and placed it on my desk. No date had ever given me a present. Slowly, with lingering trepidation in case Y had something up his sleeve, like a stink bomb or explosive powder he had shaken into the box, I peeled off the blue cellophane, crinkling and crunching like a potato chip bag.

The box wasn’t a box as much as a carton. An egg carton, both rough and smooth, as if moths or termites had eaten away at the stiff cardboard innards and left only a soft exoskeleton.

Inside were a dozen Kinder Eggs, one nestled into each egg slot. A surge of ecstasy and sweat rippled to my fingertips. I grabbed one and scraped the foil off with my nails, threw it at the ground where the chocolate cracked in two and the little toy parts clinked on the wood floor. I did this again, and again, and again. My bedroom floor became speckled with milk chocolate egg shells and a collection of itty-bitty toy parts. In such a state of ardor I had forgotten about Y and didn’t notice the note scrawled inside the egg carton until I had smashed the last Kinder.

“Enjoy! You know what to do with these!” it said, with a smiling, winking face drawn in sharpie.

 

 

6.

I swept the chocolate bits to a corner of my room and gathered all my little bitsof toy. My bits of plastic mini-planes and plastic mini-skateboards, plastic animal heads and their plastic animal bodies. Sitting cross-legged, I assembled each trinket, admiring their pygmy size. Such a little hula dancer! Such a little penguin playing soccer!

I collected my dozen toys in my shirt as if I were a girl with berries and took them to the corner of my living room, next to the sofa. There, I had a little pedestal displaying a framed photograph of Abuelita. There she was on the beach, with a sunhat the size of a sundial.

One by one, I placed each little toy in a half moon arc around the photograph. I lit my candles, closed my eyes, and lowered my head.

 

 

photo by Olaya Barr

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olaya Barr is a translator, photographer, and writer living in New York. She was awarded the De Alba Fellowship for excellence in fiction writing as an MFA student at Columbia University, as well as a grant to attend artist residency Obracadobra in Oaxaca, Mexico. She’s currently working on a novella about a bicultural child struggling with multiple identities, as well as translating the crónicas of Chilean activist and author, Pedro Lemebel. www.olayabarr.com

 

All photographs by Olaya Barr

 

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, October 10th, 2016.