March 5, 2001
Tossing My Cookies


I woke up from a deep, delicious Saturday afternoon nap ... and I wanted a cookie.

No. Wait. Let me amend that. 

I didn't simply 'want' a cookie. I actively craved a cookie. I needed a cookie. In fact, I'd say I had a major COOKIE JONES going on.

So while David continued to snooze, unaware, I tiptoed out to the kitchen and quietly took an unopened box of Girl Scout cookies down from the top of the refrigerator.

And then I proceeded to eat half the box in less than ten minutes.

I have no one to blame but myself. I'm the one who brought the cookies into the apartment in the first place. Awanda in the Accounting Department sent out an all-Totem-Pole-Company memo a few weeks back, soliciting cookie orders to help support her daughter's Brownie troop. How could I resist? Girl Scouts are a long-standing, multi-generational tradition in the SecraTerri Family. Young Secra was a Girl Scout, from second grade well into junior high ... in fact, long past the point where it was considered cool. Cookie sales helped send Young Secra to summer camp, five summers in a row. And Daughters #1 and #2 were reluctant Brownies for a few minutes in the early 90's. (Yet another failed attempt to recreate my childhood through my uncooperative children. But that's another story for another day.)

Girl Scouts are sacred in this family. That's the point I'm trying to make.

I immediately ordered four boxes from Awanda: one box of Thin Mints, one box of the chocolate/peanut butter Tagalongs, some sort of lemon cookie (new to the line-up this year), and  --  the token "healthy" choice  --  a reduced-fat apple/cinnamon cookie.

We can handle it, I told myself. We'll give the cookies to the kids. We'll share them with co-workers. We'll raffle them off on our websites. We'll go to the park on Saturday and feed them to the geese, if we have to.

We certainly won't eat them.

David and I have been making significant changes to our eating habits the past couple of months. It started immediately after we got engaged last December: not one sweeping change, exactly, but a lot of little changes added together. We've been eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, for instance. We've swapped out our usual 2% for fat-free milk, and we've managed to cut out stuff like ice cream and fast food entirely. We both drink buckets of water, all day long. We've cut way back on meat consumption and on eating out. We still go to The Taqueria once in a while on Saturday afternoons, although I order one taco now, instead of three ... and we have dinner out, maybe once a week or so. But we're paying closer attention to our diet, and it seems to be working. We're both dropping pounds. Even so, this is not so much about losing weight. At the beginning I set a modest goal for myself  --  to lose at least one dress size before the wedding in July  -- and since I'm already *there,* I figure that any further weight loss between now and then will just be gravy. (So to speak.) Mostly this is about wanting to feel better, and wanting to have more energy, and wanting to live to a ripe old age so we can annoy our grandchildren together.

Cookies are NOT a part of our new healthy eating plan, obviously.

Still, I thought I had it all figured out. I knew that the Thin Mints would be trouble -- they have traditionally been my sit-in-my-bedroom-on-dateless-Friday-nights and eat-two-boxes-in-twenty-minutes cookie of choice -- so the minute my order came in, I gave the unopened box of chocolate mints to David. "Take this to work and give them to your co-workers," I said. I didn't even smell the box this year. The chocolate/peanut butter cookies were probably more of a danger to David than to me: those are his favorites. But since he has about a bazillion times the *willpower molecules* I do, I knew he would simply give those to the smaller family members. The lemon cookies didn't interest me at all. Too generic-looking. I tried a couple of the reduced fat apple/cinnamon cookies with my tea, one afternoon after work, and they were safely unremarkable. I wasn't going to be waking up at 2 a.m. thinking about them.

I figured, See? This is great! We can support the Girl Scouts and not blow our diets!

Until Saturday afternoon, anyway.

On Saturday afternoon, this tsunamai of sugar lust washed over me out of nowhere, like a fogbank creeping over Twin Peaks and enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge ... and the next thing I knew I was sitting in front of the computer, stuffing one Lemon Pastry Creme into my face after another. I was right. They were generic. The lemon flavor was entirely too bright and false: it reminded me of eating shampoo. And they were much drier and crunchier than I generally like my cookies. No frosting. No gooey creme filling. No Tootsie Roll center.

In fact ... I really didn't like them much at all.

And that's what's so weird and dysfunctional about this whole thing: the lemon cookies really weren't all that great ... but I ate them anyway. I don't know why. I'm not feeling particularly stressed or worried about anything right now -- at least, not that I'm aware of. I wasn't tired. I wasn't bored. I'm not coming down with anything. It's not the *bad* time of the month: my hormones aren't running amuck. As far as I can tell, I ate them simply because they were there. It's as though every *willpower molecule* in body evaporated for those ten minutes. I popped one lemon cookie into my mouth, crunched it up and swallowed it ... and immediately reached for another. And another. And another. The whole time I was thinking This is wrong! Cookies bad! Must. Stop. Eating. Them. NOW. 

But by the time I finally quit, half the box was gone.

As soon as David woke up, I copped to my little cookie-binge. It didn't even occur to me to try and hide it from him. "I feel sort of sick," I said sheepishly. All of that fat and sugar was coursing through my bloodstream, making me feel jittery and dizzy and stoopid. David wasn't at all judgemental. He didn't say "I told you we shouldn't have cookies in the house." He simply sliced up some apple and peeled a tangelo into sections and plunked it down in front of me. The fruit helped even me out a little, right away. I washed it down with a gallon and a half of Calistoga, and after a while I started to feel better.

By then it was time for our Saturday night grocery-shopping trip. (We're the only couple I know who spends 'date night' at the grocery store ... and enjoys it. It's like the highlight of our whole weekend, practically.) Before we headed out the door, I stuck the rest of the cookies into a plastic bag. Once we were in the parking lot I tossed the cookies into the backseat of the Subaru. "Out of sight, out of mind," I muttered.

On the way to the grocery store we talked about what had happened. "I think the lesson here is clear," David said.

I nodded in agreement. "The lesson," I said morosely, "is that *I* can't be trusted with cookies."

But David took a gentler and more forgiving tack. "We don't keep a bottle of Smirnoffs sitting around the apartment for 'medicinal purposes,' do we?" he said. "Or a box of Mountain Chablis sitting in the fridge, in case 'company' stops by?" And I said no, under the circumstances, that would probably be a pretty stoopid idea all right. Even people as committed to sobriety as we are don't set up deliberate roadblocks for themselves.

(Or they shouldn't, anyway.)

"Well then," he continued, "why should food be any different?" His point being that if we've made a committment to watch our diet and not eat certain types of foods -- "Cookies being a good example," he said, as I squirmed uncomfortably in the passenger seat next to him -- then why in the world would we bring them into the apartment, where they can tempt us?

And of course he's absolutely correct. I think that the smart part of me knew that, all along. It was the sentimental stoopid part of me -- Young Secra in her little Brownie uniform -- that gave in to foolish impulse this time.

I felt better. I felt that I had learned a valuable lesson here: Don't bring stuff into the house unless you intend to eat it. (With the obvious exceptions, of course ... like ant traps.)  And I continued to feel better with every passing minute, as we parked the Subaru and got out of the car, and plucked a shopping cart out of the tangle of shopping carts in the parking lot, and made our way through the rain to the front of the store ...

... where we walked directly into a nest of uniformed Brownie Girl Scouts.

"Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies, ma'am?" the youngest Brownie sweetly inquired.

David grabbed me by the hand and pulled me into the store before I had a chance to say anything. It's probably just as well.

one year ago: breaking the rules

before i have to kill somebody ...
help bring back Fast Lane Tea!
[tell 'em SECRA sent you]

throw a rock