As a child my parents never made an issue of my weight, unlike most of my friends. They never had nicknames for me like “gorda” or “flaca” or ever said, “maybe you shouldn’t eat that,” or “honey, your face is so round we can serve dinner on it.”
I don’t know if it was because I was average or they were just too self-involved, but I really never thought about it. It was all very natural that I ate Jello Pudding for breakfast – the chocolate and vanilla swirl flavor. And my lunch was half of a loaf of Cuban bread sandwiched with cream cheese and guava paste and down it with my version of Coke float, which constituted of soda mixed with condensed milk.
I guess it didn’t show as much as I was obsessed with working out with my dad. My mom, who freakishly never sweat, not even on hot days, was very supportive of our exercise regiment although she never participated. While we were working out in the backyard with free weights or that all-in-one Solo Flex torture machine, she would make us a tall glass of Minute Maid orange juice made from frozen concentrate. It was juice that came in a container much like the one that Pillsbury uses for Crescent Rolls – only this one didn’t pop and it had to remain in the freezer. She’d add a spoonful of the orange, frozen gook to each glass, added water and ice and two spoonfuls of sugar and bring it out to us during our cool down.
My dad would have his with a cigarette. I would have mine with a cookie.
Carlton 100’s. Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Both of us, addicts. His teeth were yellow from the nicotine and mine were black from the Nesquik chocolate powder I would eat with a spoon right out of the bright container with a Bugs Bunny impersonator on the front. But, we co-existed at a time when cigarettes and high fructose corn syrup were not that bad for you.
Many years later, during my junior year of high school, with the help of the cutting edge technology of the nicotine trans-dermal patch, he finally quit smoking. Previous to that he tried everything from hypnosis to poking holes in the cigarettes. I was really proud of him. Until he started eating my cookies. And it didn’t end there. He ate all the guava paste and the condensed milk. He drank all the soda and stopped sharing his concentrate orange juice. And, when he noticed that he was no longer able to fit into his polyester pants, he started drinking Slim Fast shakes. Only, he’d have them with his meals. Sometimes, he’d mix it with a Frosty from Wendy’s to “water it down.”
Rummaging through the cabinets hoping to find my sugar fix, I found a secret pack of Carlton 100’s. Naturally, with all food gone, I started smoking. After hacking and puking, I noticed I didn’t have a craving for sweets. When those ran out, I bought my very own pack of Marlboro Lights illegally and, didn’t crave another brownie again. I was slim and cool and ready for college. By the time I was a freshman, I had nearly two years of secret smoking under my belt, so I quickly graduated to a pack of Parliament Lights a day.
When I was happy, I smoked. When I was sad, I smoked more. When I was stressed, I smoked the most. I would take breaks from workouts, from sex, from work, from showering, from class – just to have a cigarette. I would smoke while putting on make-up, while jogging, while eating – and the one that’s hardest of them all, the one that still makes me crave a cigarette – while writing. Every time I had a cigarette in my mouth, you could be certain my dad had a cookie in his.
Cameo Creme Sandwich Cookies. Parliament Lights.
Our lives would have been better and our addictions much more controlled if only some fucker would’ve invented a cookie that you could light up and inhale.