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Dire Circumstances

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
UGH! I feel so gross! My stomach is upset, my head is pounding, I am alternately shivering and sweating, my hands are trembling. And I have nobody to blame except my entire family. Believe me, I wouldn't have done what I did if they hadn't forced me into it through their complete and cavalier disregard for my well-being.

I don't need much to make me happy. I am not a "high maintenance" kind of gal. Not at all! But there are some things which I really need to have for my peace of mind and well being. I spend the great majority of my time doing things for this family and I don't think it is too much to expect that they just think of me once a while.

The whole thing comes down to the fact that it is August. It is almost time for school to start. I feel the same way every single summer. Enough fun! Enough spontaneity! We don't need a houseful of kids hanging around until midnight watching movies or playing "Worst Case Scenario," buzzing through the house like a huge cloud of locusts, eating everything which is even remotely edible, leaving nothing but a limp head of broccoli and some pickled okra. We need everybody in bed at a decent time and a little peace and quiet.

When I say peace and quiet, what I really mean is breakfast cereal. Or ice cream. Or just two little cookies. I am going to share something with you folks. I think that we have known each other long enough by now that I can trust you with a secret. I have a little problem. I need something sweet after dinner. I don't want something sweet. I need it. And by "sweet" I do not mean an apple. Don't make me laugh!

Some nights I can go to bed and just fall asleep. But some nights I can't. Some nights I lie in bed, tossing and turning, counting my breaths, relaxing muscle groups, naming all the states and their capitol cities, to no avail. I have to get up and have something sweet to eat. It is an overwhelming physical compulsion and I am only human. I have accepted this about myself. It is what it is.

During the school year this is not a problem. I can quietly get up and go have a nice bowl of Crunchy Sugar Ohs or some sherbet or something. But not during the summer. We cannot keep enough food in this house in the summer and we can certainly not keep any sweets.

My last day off I went to the grocery and tried to stock up a little. I thought maybe I could squirrel away some treats somewhere. I bought sugary cereal, ice cream sandwiches, some bridge mix and two bags of frosted animal cookies. My all time favorites.

I pulled into the driveway and the kids were lined up on the porch, their heads tipped up, sniffing at the breeze. "Hi Mom! Let us help you with the groceries!" Oh sure! Help me with the groceries, you little fiends! I know what you want! You can't fool me! I had to spray them with the garden hose to get them to back off. It's not my fault there was a ruckus.

Eventually I had to go back to work. And they were left in the house with hours and hours to root out and devour anything that had a single gram of sugar in it. So, when my old familiar demons woke up last night and began to fill my head with visions of pink and white frosted elephants and gnus, I was in trouble. I should have stopped at the store on the way home from work. But, stupid me, I thought I was stronger than my cravings.

I got up quietly and went downstairs. I found half a jar of molasses, a teaspoon of rubbery looking fig preserves and WAIT!!! Far in the back of a cabinet, behind the food coloring and cupcake papers there was half a can of prepared strawberry cake icing. I tried to remember how old it was, but decided it didn't matter. There was little chance it was spoiled and even less chance that I cared. I have sunk pretty low in my life, but I have not yet reached the point of eating gummy old cake icing with a spoon. That would be ridiculous. I ate it with tortilla chips. Which seemed like a good idea at the time. But wasn't. Believe me.
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" >
October 1, 2006 Column
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