I woke up the other morning with a hangover. My mouth was dry as cotton, my stomach roiling, my head pounding.
Never again, I repeated over and over in my fuzzy brain.
No, not THAT kind of hungover – I haven’t fallen off the wagon.
Instead, scattered about me on the bed were crumbs, bits of chocolate, and crumpled up cellophane tubes.
Ritz. Limited Edition Chocolate Covered Ritz, to be exact. An entire fucking box had somehow entered my stomach between ten and midnight the night before.
Never again, I swore as I hoisted my distended belly off the bed and found my favorite XL leggings. And then, an hour later, my favorite XL sweatpants, when the leggings started to feel too confining.
I’m a sucker for limited edition foods. Shamrock Shake? I’m all over that Martian-green chem-coction. Blizzard of the Month? I MUST SNATCH ONE UP BEFORE EACH AND EVERY MONTH ENDS. Because who knows when that special flavor will return?
Don’t even get me started on the Christmas season. You can’t swing a spit-cleaned fork in December without hitting a limited-time-only holiday version of your favorite sugary treat. Hershey’s Kisses taste just a little sweeter when their foil wrappers are tinged with red and green. M&Ms are that much more festive with the feces-reminiscent brown ones removed. McDonald’s has an eggnog “pie”? Hell, I’ll tap that. Candy Cane Pringles? What a lark! I must ingest those!
If you follow me on Facebook, you might recall that for a brief shining moment in the early spring of 2013 I broadcast an end to this glucose madness. “I’m going off sugar!” I proudly announced, thinking that my public declaration would harden my resolve. “Two weeks without sugar!” I crowed. “I went to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and all I had was this espresso!” I’d boast, becoming like that annoying friend who will not shut up about her juice cleanse.
So of course it didn’t stick. I traveled for work in April and thought, “Huh, if I just dial this one number on my phone people will appear at my room within minutes bearing cheesecake. How can I not press this cheesecake button? How can I not press it each and every night?” From then on, it was just the sugar talking. “Since you’ve already had all this cheesecake,” Sugar would say, “You should really stop at Mr. Cupcake by your old house as long as you’re this close.” At the airport, Sugar whispered in my ear, “Wow, that is a huge motherfucking Toblerone at Hudson News! You should totally eat that on the plane. What if you get stuck on the tarmac for hours?”
OK, sugar, I thought. Just that arm-sized Toblerone. When I get home it’ll be back to espresso and arrogance. I’m glad that’s over, I sighed.
Except of course it wasn’t.
So this is how I found myself, months later, perusing the new Asheville Trader Joe’s. I know some people shop there for, like, meals and shit, but to me? Trader Joe’s is a winter wonderland of limited edition treats. Why yes, I’ll take this box of Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s. They make them in candy-cane flavor too? That doesn’t sound much different but what the heck? I better buy both so I can compare and contrast their subtle variations. Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars? Don’t mind if I do! And sure, the Speculoos Cookie Butter and its evil twin Cookie & Cocoa Swirl aren’t technically holiday-only products, but since I barely ever get to North Asheville I should probably get one — no, two — of each.
I ate the entire box of Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars on the way home from the store like they were potato chips. I tried throwing away the box of Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s after I raced through six of them in an afternoon, but as we all know, unless you take it out to the big can, it’s STILL FOOD.
I stared at the Cookie Butter the next day in disgust, tablespoon in my hand, jar quickly emptying. “ENOUGH!” I cried. “THIS ENDS HERE, COOKIE BUTTER.” So, on a tip from my friend Elisa, I took the jar out to the driveway and locked it in my minivan.
Which would have worked if, say, I had then tossed the keys in a river or at least given them to Matt to take to work. Because 15 minutes later, I padded shame-faced outside in my stocking feet to retrieve it.