Sugar Shame

When the children are put to bed.  When the dishes have all been washed.  When the sun has set, the house is still, and no one is around to judge: That’s when the dark temptress calls to me.  

She is known by many names, appears in many guises.  Tonight, I look for her dressed in gold and tan.  Perfectly wrapped in double layers that I want to peel back slowly, anxiously awaiting her taste upon my lips.  Organic candy bar from the health food store: come to me sweet mistress. Daddy wants to devour you!

But, where was she?  I searched the shelves, knowing I had just bought this slim, seductive treat for my wife.  How bad a choc-o-holic am I?  The kind of depraved junkie that buys a chocolate bar for his cutie, then devours it himself the first night she’s out.  

The kind that sheepishly apologies for such unrestrained, addictive behavior… then turns around and does it again with the bar he’s bought to replace the original one.

I’m a sick, piggish little man.

Inside our pantry, I found a box from Trader Joe’s I’d never seen before.  It was an alluring rectangular metal box which begged me to open it.  It looked like something you’d put a keepsake in.  Something preciousssss…  Trader Joe’s--  Purveyor of 1001 things that will eventually make me fat.

Damn you, Joe and your Trading!  Can’t you trade for some goddamn baby carrots now and then?

Inside the box were 3 neat stacks of thick black and white squares: a product called Peppermint Bark.  Speaking of bark, I immediately began to drool like a Pavlovian dog.  These perfect chocolate slabs looked like little roof shingles for a gingerbread house.  They were dotted with candycane crystals, as though snow had fallen from Sugar Heaven.  

Instantly I was sucked into their cocoa vortex and spent the next 9 glorious glucose spiked minutes gnawing and slobbering over them like a rabid squirrel who’s discovered acorns laced with crack.

I was able to stop myself before polishing off the whole box.  Small victory.  I’m pretty sure my jean size went from 32 to 37 and that the day’s workout became a moot point.  Some good 30 minutes at the gym will do me when I cap off the day with a 700 grams of sugar.

I’ve always had a rabid sweet tooth.  Some stuff I can lay off of, but cake, chocolate, or candy bars.  Forget about it.  I do alright when it’s not accessible.  I don’t often go out and specifically buy sweets.  But with two kids who seem to have bottomless containers of Halloween treats (seriously: when will they all be gone?) and a wife who buys sugary delectables (only to nibble at them once a month or so), I’m constantly being tempted.

There’s no question I’m a chip off the old block.  There’s a story about my dad that confirms it.  He was a pretty healthy guy, at least for a man of his generation.  Hardly drank, played tennis, and ate plenty of fruits and veggies .  Once, his sister complimented him on his nutritious diet.  My dad replied, “It allows me to justify all the M&Ms I eat at work.”  

He was a writer and editor for a bygone media relic: the evening newspaper.  The Baltimore Evening Sun.  It was put out in mid-afternoon as a companion to the traditional morning edition. This necessitated the Evening Sun staff to work in the wee hours with a heavy haze of cigarette smoke (pipe for my dad) blanketing the newsroom.  

Perfect cover for mainlining some chocolate.

The late night binge.  I know it well.  Candy benders are best as a solo endeavor, preferably under cover of darkness.  No one wants to be witnessed while tearing open their 8th Fun Sized Snickers bar.  Snickers Satisfies?  You’re damn right it does.  But if one is satisfying, imagine how good another 7 will be…

I envy those, like my wife, who are sated with a quick hit of sugar.  One cookie?  One block of chocolate?  One peanut butter cup stolen from my kid’s stash?  Never enough.  That’s just a warm up, because before I’ve even finished the first one, I’m already thinking about how good the second one will be.

And I’m always fooled every year into thinking that, after Halloween, I’ll be in the clear.  That the Sugar Mountain will be reduced to a molehill.  But no.  It keeps coming.  Every holiday is accompanied by a new cavalcade of candy, appropriately packaged and marketed for the occasion.  Christmas.  Valentine’s Day.  Easter.  Not to mention birthday parties sprinkled in every few weekends like Jimmies on an ice cream sundae.

The Great American Candy Juggernaut keeps on rollin’.

I rail against it all the time in our house.  My kids have been preached at so many times about sugar, I’m sure that the moment they’re on their own, they’ll be crushing up Lucky Charms and snorting em for breakfast.  

It’s the Great White Devil, children!  It will lead you to RUIN!  Now brush away the sugar bugs, put on your PJs and get to bed.

As the lights go out and they fall into slumber, you know where to find me: downstairs in a dark corner of our basement, surrounded by wrappers and tripping on Kit Kats.