Ed. Note: I still eat chocolate every day, and I am not ashamed to say it. I also eat nine to eleven servings of fruits and veggies a day, so I figure it all balances out in the end. It’s funny how I wrote this while sick, and now, I am posting it while sick. Ok, it’s just funny to me.
3:31 p.m. 12/3/04
I am currently reading the best book I’ve ever read about candy. Don’t let the fact that’s it’s the first book about candy I’ve ever read deter you. It’s still the best-and pretty damn good. It’s called candy freak by Steve Almond-apropos last name-and it’s a quick, funny read. The reason I’m commenting on it, however, is because reading about his great love for candy has harkened me to some memories of my own. I began musing about my own obsession with chocolate which doesn’t come close to rivaling his, and here is what I came up with.
First, I have to give a little background. I am not someone with an addictive personality. OCD, perhaps, but not addictive. I used to smoke, sort of, and at the height of my ‘addiction’, I smoked at the most one cigarette a day. Yes, you read that right. One cigarette a day. Except when I went out socially with this one friend-who meant cigarettes and meatloaf to me-which was once a month or so. Then, I’d have three or four cigarettes. That’s it. One day, I no longer wanted to smoke on a daily basis so now, I just have my monthly fix-with the same friend who still means cigarette and meatloaf to me-and don’t even think about it the rest of the time. It’s just that smoking goes so well with drinking-which I also do, at the most, once a month. When I do indulge, it’s one drink, two at the most, and that’s it. So, no, I’m not addicted to alcohol, either.
The only thing that might count as an addiction is exercise, but even that, to me, is more a rut than anything else. Well, not really, but it’s not the focus of this essay, so it’s forgotten. So when I say I’m addicted to chocolate, that’s exactly what I mean. I used to think I just liked it a great deal. I even gave it up sporadically, usually when I was dieting. For the most part, however, it’s a daily part of my life, but I had deluded myself into thinking that it was a big like-not an addiction. What changed my mind? I’ll tell you.
I am in the midst of the cold from hell. It started out as bronchitis, which is something recurring with me. I’ve had it four or five times before, so I thought I knew what to expect. Six weeks of hacking, bronchial pains, and not being able to exercise as much. True to form, that’s what happened. Along the way, however, something strange also occurred-it mutated into something else. How do I know? Because I know what bronchitis feels like, and it was no longer just that. That’s when I surmised it must be a cold and resigned to wait it out. Well, I am in the eighth week of whatever it is, and it’s mutated again. I hate doctors, but even I think it might be time to get checked out.
What does this have to do with my discovery that I’m a chocoholic? Well, the last time I had bronchitis, my nutritionist suggested that I eschew-instead of chew-wheat, sugar and dairy. I did for four months, and it worked. I was dreaming of pizza and pasta at the end of the four months, but that’s another story. This time, around week six, I decided to do the same thing. Dairy has been an easy thing to banish. Well, not easy, but not too difficult. Wheat hasn’t given me much trouble-but it’s the sugar part that kills me every time. Last time, I went to the whole foods market and bought a substitute for chocolate. It wasn’t as good, but it was doable. This time, I got lazy. I didn’t want to go anywhere other than Cub-local supermarket-so I just didn’t get any chocolate.
Once my preexistent stash was consumed, I was chocolate free. I have tremendous willpower, so I thought it’d be a breeze. Instead, I was jonesing for it in the wee hours of the morning. I go to bed around five in the morning so at three or so in the morning, I was physically craving chocolate. And Cheetos. My twin vices. I eat six to eight fruits and veggies a day, along with whole wheat bread-when I’m eating wheat-and skim milk-when I’m drinking milk. I work out every day doing aerobics and stretching every day, lifting weights every other day. It’s the chocolate and the Cheetos that get to me.
So, here I am, a woman of strength, fighting with all my will not to drive to Cub at three in the morning but only because I didn’t want to look like the loser I was-driving to the market to get my fix. That would be no better than going to buy drugs at three in the morning because you can’t wait until the morning. It took every ounce of willpower not to jump in the car and drive to Cub. Of course, I went the next morning-a Sunday, right before the Vikings game. Not the best time to go to the store. I found myself standing in line with the three ‘C’s necessary in my life-chocolate, Cheetos and caffeine-free diet Pepsi. There wasn’t an ounce of nutrition in anything I was buying, and I bought them, anyway.
I love chocolate. There is no denying this tidbit. When Steve Almond confessed that he has eaten a piece of candy every day of his life, I can relate. When he says he thinks about candy every hour, well, I can’t relate to that, but I know that I have to have some almost every day or go clinically insane. I keep some in the house at all times-though not as much as he does. Three to seven pounds, not including candy he’s stashed in unexpected places. I feel a kinship with this man I’ve never met if only because of our intense love for the dark stuff. What I like best about him is that he doesn’t see the need to hide it as so many people-mostly women-do. I used to be ashamed of it as well. I still have residual guilt that I have almost amorous feelings towards the cacao bean. If you forced me to choose between going the rest of my life without sex and going the rest of my life without chocolate, well, I’d have to at least think hard before giving up chocolate. Come to think of it-that may not be a good example as there are probably many women who prefer chocolate to sex.
As for me, I’m like Joey on Friends when he was asked if he had a jar of some kind of jam in one hand and the girl from Kinko’s in the other-you can tell I’m not a Friends’ fan, but this is an apropos analogy-which would he chose, he smiled and said, ‘Put your hands together!” That’s my attitude about sex and chocolate. You can’t have one without the other. Ok, you can and most likely do have one without the other, but they’re probably better together. Actually, no, as chocolate is messy-and I don’t like cleaning up after sex. So, it’s best to have the chocolate first and then fuck your brains out. Then, you smoke a cigarette after, and you have every vice covered.
I think Steve Almond has the right attitude-I’m going to be proud of being a chocolate freak and not feel the need to hide it. When he talked about the Marathon Bar, well, it almost brought tears to my eyes. No longer will I skulk around, pretending I have enough willpower not to indulge in the dark stuff. No longer will I agonize about the fact that I reach for that chocolate more often than I should. No, from now on, I will be proud to be a chocoholic and all that goes with it. After all, it is an aphrodisiac’ it’s good for your heart; and it tastes damn good, too. What more could you want from a product?