So summer is here.
The livin’ is easy.
And the sugar is back. Oh, is it back.
After a month of abstaining, I jumped back on the sugar wagon with heels clicking together high in the air (can you click your heels together on the way up to somewhere? I’ve only ever tried it on the way down.) Memorial Day Weekend marked the end of my sugarless purgatory, and end it I did–abruptly.
Abruptly? No. Violently.
Giving up sugar for a month was supposed to curb my body’s all-consuming craving for it. It was supposed to help me slowly introduce the tricky substance back into my system, this time in a more moderate, less addictive fashion. Giving up all sugar for one month was supposed to make me eat less sugar forever. Ah, the Land of Supposed-To. Over there, I’m a rock star.
As you may have inferred from the context clues by now, coming up off my no-sugar low didn’t turn me into quite the kind of eater it was supposed to. After four weeks of deprivation, the anticipated date ending my challenge with Derrick finally arrived. I went to bed the night before The Big Day with the best of intentions. I would tell myself I was still going without sugar and simply forget that it was now “legal.” Because a month without sugar was supposed to cancel my cravings for it, I doubted I would even want the stuff now that it was available to me again. Armed with my newfound discipline, I would choose to view sugar like an adolescent boyfriend: he may have looked good to me in my youth, but lost his shine when seen through my older, wiser eyes. (No offense, Adolescent Boyfriend. I’m sure your wife finds your pudgy baldness adorable.) I went to bed the night before the Big Day with the confidence of a victor. Grit and determination had won the battle against my old slovenly self. It would take more than a Kit Kat to bring me down now.
The problem? I had not prepared myself for a Kit Kat Dark. (Have you tried them? It’s a whole ‘nother post.) I meant to take just a nibble–a pseudo-bite, if you will. But one thing led to another and before I could say Type II Diabetes, the sinful silkiness had seduced me like an ill-gotten Craigslist lover. There we were, just the two of us, alone in the car and mad with desire. I knew our encounter would have consequences—whatever would I tell my sweet husband?—but I was gravy in the face of all that milk chocolate crispiness. The wrapper was quickly and completely torn off, and each of the four sticks was sniffed, stroked, and savored. The consumption now complete, I tried to justify the entire affair by washing it down with a virtuous bottle of Aquafina.
The tryst with the Kit Kat would have been bad enough, but the heedless weekend behavior that followed is what truly shames me:
The first order of business was entertaining our weekend guests. Our oldest besties, the Short family, had driven over from Salem to slum it with us east-siders. As always, our weekend with this family was fun, funny, and exhilarating (yeah, they’re that cool). And as always, our weekend with this family was fattening. And, as always, the amount of sugar I consumed was: Really Not My Fault.
What am I supposed to do when my guests expect cinnamon rolls for breakfast, peanut butter bars for dessert, and chocolate chip cookies to snack on in between? Okay, so maybe they didn’t exactly ask for these treats, but I could see the unspoken request in their eyes. Who am I to deny my friends their just due? (We did have lousy weather all weekend. I had to offer them something.)
What am I supposed to do when said friends’ children look up at me with large innocent eyes, asking if they can please go to the “Slurpee store” because the Kennewick 7-11 boasts The World’s Largest Slurpee Selection? (Not exaggerating. Look it up. They have a trophy inside and everything.) Just what am I supposed to do? Tell these precious little ones “No! We’re off sugar in this house!” Hmph, not this fun mom. I sent the kids off with the dads for Slurpees and when they returned with their drinks, I snuck a big ‘ol slurp of my own from each child’s straw when they weren’t looking. (I said I was a fun mom, not a classy one.)
And just what am I supposed to do—no really, you tell me—when, having promised the gang strawberry shortcake for our final and fabulous dessert, my good friend Rachel insisted that I get out of the kitchen and come play games with everyone. I sighed my (signature) martyr-sigh and conceded. We had no shortcake that evening. The next morning, however, as our friends were packing up to leave, we began assembling sandwiches for a quick lunch before they hit the road. I was slicing cheese and tomatoes, but all I could think about was the unresolved strawberry shortcake situation. I offered to whip some up before our guests departed, but everyone declined, claiming they’d had enough treats this weekend “to last them for a month.” (Whatever.) I pretended to agree, but still the thought of that dessert loomed large in my mind. I had the strawberries. I had the whipped cream. I had the Bisquick. So you tell me: what was I supposed to do? Exactly: I hunched over a secret corner of the kitchen and made my shortcakes quickly and quietly, lest
a) anyone erroneously thought I was a pig, and
b) the kids wanted any of it. (I had only made enough batter for eight large cakes. There were four of us adults. You can see how the numbers just wouldn’t work.)
The strange thing is, even after it was warm and ready, nobody wanted strawberry shortcake except me. They were all grumbling about feeling too full and needing a break before their next binge. My mouth stuffed to overflowing, I could only nod and grunt empathetically. Spewing a garbled “goodbye” through the Cool Whip as I closed the door behind my dear friends, I paused for a moment and thought with satisfaction about the kind of hostess I’d shown myself to be that weekend: thoughtful, generous, accommodating. So what if my own rigorous diet was sidetracked because of my guests’ gluttony? With all the insight of a mother’s heart, I knew my relationships were more important than my vanity. It is a mature woman who puts friends and family before her own needs. Sometimes, people come before our principles. Not to brag, but standing there at the front door, I was pretty much astounded at my own wisdom. Yes, my three faithfuls, I’ve finally grasped the essence of our existence: We need balance in all things.
And sugar in everything.