By Judy Brandon
When my mother told me about her old friends calling from Missouri last week, I could not help but remember our two families’ trip together to the Missouri State Fair in 1958.
Their two children, who were the same ages as my sister, Susie, and me, made our outing more exciting. The fair had farm animals, displays and activities, but the midway was a primary enticement for us.
But it wasn’t the rides that caught my attention.
While walking down the midway, I spotted a girl coming toward me eating on a hefty pink clump of something attached to a cardboard tube. That immense pink blob looked tasty.
“I want some of what she has,” I thought as I tugged at my mother’s sleeve and asked her what it was that the girl was eating. “Cotton candy,” my mother said, it looked like cotton.
I insisted on Mother buying me a stick of whatever that treat was. At first, Mother said no. She tried to convince me by telling me it was bad for my teeth and that it wasn’t really that good anyway. Yet I begged and begged.
Finally my mother compromised. She had set a limit of spending for the night, so she said, “Judy, are you sure you want that stuff? It’s not worth the money.”
I assured her that I did, so she said, “You have a nickel. If you want cotton candy, you must buy it with your own money.”
There was no hesitation on my part. I was sure I wouldn’t want anything else all night because I had sights set on cotton candy.
I walked up to the booth with the sign that read “Heavenly Cotton Candy — Five Cents.” I gave the woman my nickel and then stood amazed as she turned the paper tube around the edges of a big tub, picking up the delicate sugar as she worked. I looked at her with astonishment as she gave me my pink cotton candy. I turned around and then amply opened to take a mouthful. In anticipation, I thought, “At last, a bite of this heavenly stuff.”
But it was all a big debacle. I bit into the cotton candy and there was nothing; it dissolved in my mouth. I took a larger bite, and it too was gone as quickly as the first. After three or four disappointing bites, I understood that what I thought was so mouthwatering and attractive was actually nothing when I experienced it.
I know that my experience as a child with cotton candy was only a short-lived incident. But it was a yearning that I thought would bring me satisfaction, but it turned out to be much less. In fact, I suspect that many of us have had those times in life.
We believe we have to have something only to find that when we have it, it doesn’t satisfy.
But the wonderful thing about the Bible is that all the faults and frustrations of some of its characters are not hidden but exposed for all of us to see. Solomon went through the same kind of thing and more. Solomon had seen it all, possessed it all, done it all and experienced it all.
Yet, when Solomon was an old man, his words in Ecclesiastes make known his ideas about spending energy for a lifetime of going after nothing but desires. Solomon believed that kind of mindset was worthless. He found out with all his wealth and power that getting material things and even fame only satisfied temporarily. Those things are like cotton candy — they don’t last and don’t satisfy at all.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org