I had just returned to the kitchen, having settled a dispute between two warring Jedi knights in the other room, when my friend’s accusatory gaze pierced me like a light saber. She stood over my open freezer looking at me with raised brow. “You want to explain this?”
I averted my eyes. The “this” that she referred to was eight half gallon containers of Edy’s Grand Light Ice cream of various flavors lining my freezer. “What?” I shrugged defensively. “There was a really good sale.” I hoped she wouldn’t notice the four frozen yogurt cups resting comfortably on the shelf above.
“That does not explain this.” She snorted. “Have you taken up competitive eating?”
“You know I love ice cream. What’s the big deal?”
She looked at me almost sadly. “Really? You don’t think there’s a problem here?”
Clearly she did. “No. Like I said it was a good sale, two for $5. You can’t beat it, except once. It was amazing! I got them for $1.99.”
“Oh my God, your eyes are glazing over like donuts! You need to see someone.”
“Please. I mean, yes for many reasons, but not this.”
“Fine, then let me see your bag.” She held out her hand.
“Why?” I clutched the bag closer. Obviously, there was something in there she shouldn’t see. What? I wondered, as she grabbed it from me, fishing around my Let’s Make a Deal sack. Then, a superior sounding, “Aha!”
Uh oh. That didn’t sound good for me. I looked up to see her waving a small container and cringed. It was my “emergency sprinkles” cup. You know, for when you’re on the go. You know, right? Uh oh again. I decided to take the offensive defensive and jutted out my chin. “I like to be prepared. So what?”
“So, you don’t think there’s an issue here?”
“Of course not.” I choked, sounding something like a dragon with flames stuck in her throat.
“Fine. Then, stop eating ice cream for a week.”
We stared each other down. As if on cue, children’s screams sounded from the other room and we both ran, okay walked with powerful stride, into the living room. Thank God, I thought, saved! I was never so happy to see a child laying on the floor whimpering and the rest jumping from one of my couches to the other. In the mayhem, our conversation melted softly away.
At the gym at 6:45am the next morning, in between knee shaking lunges, I replayed my friend’s impromptu intervention and honestly assessed my unusual attachment to my daily treat.
Hoarder – check.
Indulged more than once a day – double check.
Ate alone, with company, for emotional comfort, reward, misery, joy –checkcheckcheckcheck.
On a first name basis with yogurt store owner – Joe check.
I want it. I need it. I have to have it – big screaming check.
Well there it was, plain as vanilla . I was a creamaholic.
Clearly my consumption was out of control. I would do it, I decided then and there. I would get the monkey off my back, or out of my mouth for that matter. Of course, this was all just sugared up swagger since I still had eight containers (two Rocky Road – mine, two Cookies and Cream – mine/kids, French Silk – mine, Chocolate – mine, Vanilla – kids, Fudge Tracks – kids) as well as the frozen yogurt cups (mine) waiting for me in the freezer. Mmm. Just the thought of them made my salivary glands sweat. I had to get rid of them, fast. So I fixed my jaw and set about with great determination the terrible task of polishing off my goods one by one. Only a scoop left in the container? Might as well add it to my bowl. I took to the task like a Roman at his last orgy.
When I got down to less than two tubs, something in the dark recess of my brain cracked, transforming me from typical suburban mom into a love struck teen, I began stalking the yogurt store, manufacturing reasons to be “in the area”, sitting in the car talking myself out of going in, only to trip over myself (and some other sugar crack riddled mom) in mad rush to heaven’s door. Floating out on a cloud of peanut butter cappuccino topped with chocolate crunchies, breathing deep contented sighs, I gained some insight to my pharmaceutically dependent father. It was not a proud moment.
As a child of divorce (see above) followed by a hasty and tumultuous remarriage and two additional step brothers to the one I already didn’t want, ice cream soothed and numbed me. As I developed from child to budding young whale, it became clear that ice cream, might not completely have my best interests at heart. In high school, I can mortifyingly attest that the boys all found my carrot eating, paddle ball playing mom way hotter than me. Cue two to three years of resentment binge eating.
“You really don’t need that,” short shorts mom says.
“You’re so right,” muffin topped, hanger-zipped jeaned 16-year-old responds, placing scooper deeper in the container for an extra big helping, licking the spoon for the most obnoxious effect.
It took some maturity – and a bunch of skinny/bulimic college friends – to realize that I needed to exercise more and switch to frozen yogurt, because even though my mother was annoying, she really was hot.
That night, after consuming the last of the Fudge Tracks (my kids’ container – yes, I have no shame), I had done it. I had rid my house of ice cream. It had taken more time than expected given all those extremely unfortunate, yet unavoidable stops at the shoe store which happened to be next to the frozen yogurt shop. “I just must have navy Espadrilles today!” But now my freezer was empty. I lay on the couch bloated and satisfied. Tomorrow was so far away.
Day one on the wagon, I woke with determination. I would do it. I would not waffle!* I had a nice healthy breakfast, followed by a nice healthy lunch. Around 4pm, the anxiety set in. “What have I done?!” At 5pm, panic. “Get more!” followed by a body chained to table effort to suppress the intense desire to run to the store. I breathed deep and imagined popcorn. Or a nice cookie. Feh! Popcorn had no pop, cookies were crummy! Ice cream! My brain screamed. I scream for ice cream! I heard my father’s thick, semi-conscious voice in my head, “Addiction runths in our family.” It’s not nearly the same, I reasoned, uneasily recalling my friend’s disapproving judgment.
Then, it was dinner time and we were in the house for the night. Now I’d done it, if I wanted something I’d have to drag my three children out with me, luring them with postponed homework and treats of their own. Definitely pathetic. It screamed addict. They’d probably see right through me too. It was even possible that they would say no and I’d have to make an extra trip to the candy store to bribe them. Even more pathetic. But I really REALLY wanted it. Desperate, I wondered if i could get someone to deliver it to me. Not my husband. He was wise to my game. What friend could I call…? My seven-year-old son Michael called down for a cup of milk. “Get it yourself!” I snapped up at him. Crap. I was strung out.
It continued like that for the next seven days. Cranky, anxious and reeking of cinnamon mints, I survived. By week’s end, I felt healthier, was two pounds lighter and the intense cravings had somewhat subsided. I managed emotionally torturous conversations with my father without my crutch and the freezer held, wait for it…. actual food!
That’s why, when lunch time rolled around, I bee-lined straight for my yogurt store and bought myself a beautiful cone of peanut butter and chocolate covered in sprinkles. Reward! Euphoria. Blissed out on my drug of choice, I decided that my pleasure outweighed my pain. My booty would continue going to boot camp. I would battle an extra few pounds. It was just too good. Besides I was not my father, I could lick it if I wanted to.
*Just so you know, it’s not like I have never gone a day without ice cream or frozen yogurt. When I travel or when I’m sick, I almost never have it. And there have been snow storms…