Duel April, 2017
The wrapped cookie has been sitting on my kitchen counter for three days now. It talks to me with phrases like, “I’m lonely” or ” See how small I am, practically no calories at all. Just eat me and no one will know.” I tell the cookie that this is a contest, and I will be victorious. That cookie is the very visible enemy facing my first line of defense in taking care of my body. Constantly representing my goals, the cookie sits there longer and longer. I feel more triumphant each day.
Then a cooperating broker calls me about a transaction. I don’t know why, and maybe she just does this with everyone, but she calls me Sweety, and Honey, and Sugar. I can hear the cookie laughing in the other room as though it knows that an ally has been found. My mouth waters, but I will not give in.
Trying to plan a little vacation, which takes a lot of verbal negotiating, opens the ears in the other room to all that is going on. I hear soft weeping and quickly understand that this is reverse psychology on its part. It seems to be saying, “Woe is me, the days of my life on the earth are numbered, and soon I will be eaten. That makes me sad.” The realization strengthens my resolve. Hunger is overcoming me as I now avoid the kitchen altogether. Taking my water from the bathroom sink seems a little ridiculous, but I just can’t go in there anymore.
Daily exercise, eating fresh home-cooked foods, reading labels on what little processed food I am buying, and keeping my portions in control come first. Then there is sugar. Seven decades of that stuff started when I was quite young. One of my earliest memories was staying at my great grandparents’ home in Dallas when I was probably 14 months old. For some reason I had quit eating in my parents’ absence, which probably distressed them greatly. As I lay in bed there were soft cricket chirpings coming through the window screen on that warm summer night. They brought me a linen napkin with a ball of sugar in it, tied up with a ribbon. I sucked on this until I fell asleep. The pattern was set: my sweet tooth sang its siren song.
After a month of this duel, the cookie wrapper was covered in dust. It cried out no more, probably due to exhaustion. I was able to go to the kitchen once again as it had become quiet. Part of me wondered if indeed the cookie had any life left. In an instant, I decided that eating the cookie would be done quickly, but only after I had had a decent salad. It was lunch time and quite still in the house. I popped the wrapper open, snapped the cookie in half, and began to chew 50% of it; my hand reaching for the slip of paper hanging out of the other half. It read, “38 45 22 9 12 44.” I flipped it over and the other side read, “He who dines in secret suffers loneliness the most.” I swear I heard giggling as I chewed, but it did become more and more silent.
A cookie is just bread masquerading behind a facade of sugar. Wonder bread, tortillas, nan, dinner rolls, they are all the same. Even Jesus had his great temptation. (Matthew 4:1-4) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “