Monthly Archives: October 2012

How to Lose Your Dignity (In a Corn Maze)

Fall is my favorite time of year, with the unfortunate fact that nestled soundly in its center is Halloween, my least favorite holiday.

To make it to my Top 5 Holidays List, a celebration must consist of at least all of these:

  • lying to children
  • divisive religious overtones
  • figgy pudding
  • fat snowmen
  • enough nostalgia to raise the dead

Yep, you guessed it: Christmas is in my top holiday slots – all five of them. Which is why I play Christmas music in August, much to the delight of my co-workers.

Christmas Music in August

Conversely, to land in my Worst 5 Holiday List, the joyous occasion must either be:

  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • Halloween
  • or Halloween

Every year, when October 31st rolls around, I dream of turning into a Jehovah’s Witness just for one day so I can bypass the holiday.

Jehovah's Witness Plans

Now, if we all dressed up as Frosty the Snowman and knocked on doors to receive homemade cookies from jolly, plump housewives, I’d say: scoot your merry butt over, Christmas Slot #5! You have competition.

But that isn’t what happens. The ghoulish holiday seems to don itself with an increasingly dreary ensemble: ashen apparitions, ghastly ghosts, wicked witches, and malignant monsters. Call me old-fashioned (I won’t be offended, because Christmas is old-fashioned, so it must be awesome), but the relishing of gross & scary things doesn’t measure up to my idea of a good time.

However, since I just maligned the treasured holiday of many, I will now proceed to mock myself, and then we’ll be even. Granted, Halloween scares me, but just about everything does.  The dark scares me, MSG scares me, ducks in groups scare me.

Scariest Things

To illustrate my remarkable faintheartedness: last year my equally-timorious friend Cupcake (her real name is Holly, but I used an alias to preserve privacy) and I visited a haunted corn maze. Please do keep in mind that we were 27 & 26 years of age, which is certainly not old enough to be out traipsing in the dark by ourselves. Trembling with fear, we ventured into the muddy, dark maze, nerves taut.

Silence.

Silence.

So far, so good.

Silence.

… “boo.”

First ScareSecond Scare

No, those were not the cries of one in mortal danger of life and limb. They were the pathetic pleas emitting from us when a teenager making minimum wage, dressed in sweat pants and a cheap plastic mask, jumped out of the corn stalks and blandly yelled ‘boo.’ Slipping and sliding in the muddy chaos, we ran away like squealing, blind little pigs, with me dragging the terrified Cupcake in my cowardly wake. This hysterical behavior of course only motivated him to chase us more.

He finally left, and I was still alive, which was great, because I really want kids someday. As the echoes of our screams faded off in the distance, we crept forward. A deceptive calm cloaked the field.

“GRRZRRZRRZRRZRRZRRZRRZRRZRR!”

Even my frazzled mental state, I recognized that a chain saw is not a common corn shucking tool, so once again we broke into a mad sprint, clawing blindly through the maze to escape the predator’s relentless weapon.

This dumped us right into the path of a gruesome lady, ghost-white and draped in tatters. Moaning, she wailed in horrifying tones, “I am going to eat your bones! I want your soooooouulsssss!”

After Bone-Eating-Soul-Stealing Lady, we were so traumatized that we resorted to the only mature option available: walk the remainder of the maze in the shadow of a small, plump boy, assuming that even fiends wouldn’t prey on a child. Perhaps we lost some dignity points here, but let’s be honest, there wasn’t much left to lose at this point.

This year, I will be celebrating Halloween night with a Christmas party. Sorry, Small Plump Boy – you’re on your own!

My Sweetest Foe

You know how it has been said keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer? That adage has ruled the state of my gut for years. Machiavelli, good sir – my doctor wants to smack you soundly with his stethoscope.

Machiavelli

The battle over sugar started when I was a wee wisp of a girl. My dear mother, the ever-vigilant guardian of our guts, forbade any processed foods and sugary treats from crossing our threshold. ‘Junk food’ for us were the occasional little packets of fruit snacks and Cheerios.

Children's Story

(I have since surpassed my mother as a health freak. It’s her fault I can’t eat with friends without pointing out at least one cancer-inducing ingredient in their food. It’s a wonder I have any friends at all.)

Dining Out

With daily reinforcement of healthy eating habits and the rationale behind them, one would presume I avoided sugar like a slug eludes salt. Unfortunately, little girls care less about future risk of diabetes and more about how to satiate the ever-present and gnawing ache to consume sugar that is the curse of all women. diabetes

Embracing Machiavelli’s advice long before I was old enough to read his prose, I devised a battle plan with the cunning and knack of a 5-star general:

Battle Step One

Battle Step Two

As Quiet Time draps the house in contented silence, I slip down the steps, making sure to avoid all those creaky spots. With nervous energy in every bated breath, my guilty hands firmly and adroitly pack the measuring cup solid with golden brown treasure. Back in my room, I gleefully scoop away at my plundered goods, safely hidden behind the screen of my book.

Stolen Sugar

(Mom, if you are reading this, I apologize, but you really should have hidden the sugar better!)

Fast forward to adulthood. I’m 18, working at Safeway and presumably sagacious enough to have a say in who should run the country. In retrospect, I postulate that one who cannot maintain proper order in their gut should have no voice in who manages the order of a nation. Perhaps a gut bacteria test at all polling stations?

Voting

Anyway, back to my intestines. Working in the produce department, one would think daily immersion in this herbaceous haven would foster a healthy gut. Let me dispel this misconception with a quick peek into the belly (pun not intended, then intended upon recognition) of the Safeway machine. In the dark and cavernous back room of every store, there towers a mountain of compost with enough day-old donuts to feed the nation of Laos.

compost

Strictly mandated by store policy not to pilfer the pile, I subordinated myself to the Higher Law of Waste Not and would shovel up to 5 donuts successively in my little greedy mouth. One of my job duties was to clean up, and how I excelled at that!

donuts

10 years later, my thieving antics no longer graced the halls of Safeway, but I was still robbing myself of health. Armed with a more mature awareness of my lack of self control, I instituted an effective sabotage plan to protect myself from myself. Buy a pack of Mint Fudge-Covered Oreos, dump half of them into my ravenous mouth, and promptly throw the remainder away. Not above excavating food out of the trash, I would seal the deal with a generous dumping of water over the cookies. Even my rapacious appetite balks at soggy cookies.

Oreos

Thus the war raged for years. Even the most hearty gut can’t withstand a siege longer than the two World Wars combined. Youth and vitality begrudgingly capitulated under the cumulative weight of age, multiple surgeries and poor diet, and I developed my own post-traumatic stress disorder, lovingly labeled The Sugar Coma. A short 15 minutes after ingesting a sugary delicacy, my pulse starts to slow, my eyelids droop, and overall cognitive function comes to a grinding halt.

Sugar Coma

Recently, I discovered I am officially allergic to sugar. I didn’t even know that was possible! It’s like being allergic to … happiness. Secretly, though, I am elated to be forced to give up the battle with sugar. It’s similar to playing a chess game you know you aren’t going to win, but just can’t stand admitting defeat. Then a small child knocks the board over and you can confidently assert that you were so close to winning, if only you had a few more turns!

Chess

So now another battle commences, one to regain control of my gut. And this time, Machiavelli isn’t my war advisor.