As I tucked into my morning bowl of Sugar Puffs, the king of breakfast cereals, my mind wandered back to the first breakfast I had when I moved out of the family home. My mind wandered so much that I over filled the bowl with milk and then had to transfer the whole milky sugar puffy mess into a large pasta bowl, well it was either that or a small saucepan. I'm a real class act in the morning.
not a trophy breakfast...
Free from the reigns of parental control I could have what ever I wanted for breakfast, lunch, diner or at any other time of the day. That said, Dad had long since given up on trying to provide me with nourishing meals and what have you. I was a moody, goth, teenager who wouldn't be contained by eating at any of the regularly alloted times or indeed with any regular food. This petulance would later manifest itself as vegetarianism. I was disowned during this period.
So there I was a few months shy of my seventeenth birthday living away from home and having to budget and provide for myself. This was a shock to the system as food at home was always good home cooked fayre. I used to lament my fathers fantastic culinary skills when other kids at school would regale me with stories of frozen chips and tins of beans and that holy grail of convenience food, the Findus Crispy Pancake. Oh no, not for me where the delights of the potato waffle or the frozen pizza. We had to make do with actual fresh meat and vegetables. I considered it to be so medieval.
I have never admitted it but I was a little nervous when I moved out. I was given very little advice or anything else for that matter when I
I moved in with my chum Daryl, not into a grotty student flat bedecked with 1970's brown curtains and purple carpet. Oh hell no. This was luxury living, a swish new apartment in the centre of town. Remember this was the early 90's and city centre living was the reserve of the homeless. Our carpets matched our curtains which in turn matched our couch. Crikey, it was just like one of those show houses off the telly. We were beside our favourite bar and club, we were within spitting distance of the big shops, and college was only a stones throw away. We never threw any stones though or actually go to college either now that I come to think of it. This place was just swell and a bona fide babe magnet too. Not that I was ever really able to take advantage of that situation.
Most food shopping was done in either the local Spar shop or the wonderful 24 hours garage that is when we weren't dining out. By dining out I mean eating kebabs at 3am outside the pub. The 24 hour garage was always a delight and the sarcastic and perma-huffy attendant behind the perspex window made or nightly trips complete. Service with a sneer. Having him run to the far side of the shop to pick us up a loaf of bread only to send him back again because we wanted the other one on the left was a shitty trick we never tired off.
Anyway one night shortly after moving in we found ourselves yet again at the perspex window through which most of our daily nourishment came. I never lived in Communist Russia but this must have been what it was like - queueing up for bread at 3am in the rain with the other dregs of society whilst a sneering control freak takes an age to get your sliced white. As I stood there shuffling back and forward in a semi-sober state I spied from the corner of my eye the most sought after of breakfast products. It seemed to glow at me and there was definitely the sound of angels whispering in my ears. It could have been the drunks in the queue but I'm sure it was angels.
It was the breakfast I had always wanted but never got. The choice of children all over the land but the one no self respecting parent ever bought, it was......
....it was, The Kellogg's Variety Pack! Hallelujah! The time had come for me to sample the delights of eight different breakfast cereals from one packet. No more would I have to make do with boring Cornflakes or listen to the repetitiously dull snap crackle and goddamned pop of Rice Krispies!
I could barely get the words out as I inched my way to the window of wonderful delights. I fidgeted in my pockets for some notes, the 24 hour garage being a robbing fucker worse than the taxman, and a quality item such as the Kellogg's Variety Pack would obviously command a high price.
"Variety Pack...", I stuttered.
I thought he was demanding civility at the window so I tried again, "Variety Pack...PLEASE."
"Variety Pack of wah? Condoms?"
"Condoms?" Like what the hell was I gonna do with condoms? I barely knew any girls to talk to let alone get close enough to actually need a condom. The procurement of the breakfast of dreams was proving difficult. From behind me came a gruff and angry voice...
"Will ya get a fucking move on...it's pishing out here!" Some ladies have no patience.
So I tried again, "Dude can I please get the Kellogg's Variety Packet PLEASE."
"Sir, boss, big fella, whatever! Can I just please have my Variety Packet."
"Is there any fucking chance up there? I've been waiting twenty minutes!" Came another angry voice. I was tempted to tell them I had been waiting nearly twenty years but they looked cold and ugly so I kept that thought to myself. But finally I got my Variety Pack and rushed home, avoiding muggers and hoods and all the other wonderful creatures to be found at 3am on a cold Wednesday morning.
By the time I got home I was totally pooped and not really in the mood for anything other than sleep. I awoke a few hours later slumped on the couch and still clutching my trophy breakfast. Despite a killer hangover I bounced into the kitchen to fetch some milk, a bowl and a spoon. This wasn't easy as we only washed dishes on a quarterly basis and we weren't even close to doing them any time soon. But the mould was removed and dubious plant life scoured off. I was ready.
I had waited nearly seventeen years for this moment. I lined them all up minus the Cornflakes and the Rice Krispies and ate them one after the other, tiny packet followed tiny packet. It was at his point that I realised moving out of home was the best thing I had ever done. Funnily enough I don't think I have bought a Variety Packet since.
It's funny the things you think about over a bowl of Sugar Puffs.....