“_____ you Ernie, you _________ ________ ___________”
I was sitting, tired-numb in the stagnant air of my morning commute, paused at the crossing of Broadway and Evans when my path was crossed by the likeness of this Keebler Elf plastered on the side of a semi-truck, hand upraised in the friendliest posture with that smug smile of his, as if inviting me to give up on the spot. After all, it would be so easy, and it would feel so good. Given that it was too early for my mental filtration unit to be put into place for the day, my first and only reaction was to scream profanities at Ernie until he went away, sort of like a terrier barking at a mailman. You can easily fill in the blanks above. This was the first time I realized that I am having some serious chocolate withdrawal.
Mark and I decided on a whim to embark upon a home exercise program called “Insanity”, after an embarrassing weekend when we tried to kick a soccer ball around and wound up stumbling around after ten minutes like a couple of asthmatic hedgehogs. While Mark has dropped out after a day-five tantrum sighting foot-pain as the cause, I am determined to finish this project 100% and feel as good about myself as I did in Africa before I leave for France. While I am happy to be getting back into a healthier lifestyle, I have discovered that exercising six days a week and counting calories religiously has produced some unexpected side effects.
First of all, I have clearly become a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. I have developed an uncanny attachment to Sean T., the hairless, booming, muscle-bound purveyor of the Insanity program which is holding me captive each afternoon (Sundays excluded). In any other arena of life, if I met Sean T. I would find him to be obnoxious, overconfident, overzealous, vain, and a little mean. Like many of the permanent human installations you find in gyms, he has a bit of an overbearing, macho persona. He pours water over his head with little to no regard for the people around him who could slip on his puddles. He screams at unnecessary times. Despite all these traits which I eschew in the real world, in the twelve square feet of my allotted living-room work-out space, I find these annoyances motivating, and even endearing. I have been manipulated into thinking that this man can lead me into the promised land, if only I try hard enough. “PUSH HARDER,” he yells at me with no regard for the acoustics of the room, and instead of retorting that he is not my supervisor, I do, in fact, find myself pushing just a bit harder. I even miss him on Sundays when I should be enjoying the day off. This, however, is not the strangest of consequences I have discovered after beginning my healthier lifestyle.
Almost every night now, I dream of eating something horribly unhealthy. When I was living away from Mark, I had fairly frequent sex dreams to compensate for that lack in my reality; just like those times, I am now having graphic eating dreams to compensate for the lack of horrible, disgusting, delicious food in my life. The odd part about it is that, similar to the sex dreams, these food dreams are usually good enough to stave off the cravings I’ve been having for the day. When I dream about pizza on Thursday night, I won’t even think about it again until Saturday.
The need for food has not only conquered my unconscious thoughts, but has invaded my waking mind as well. At least once a day now, I find myself drifting into odd, food-centered daydreams. Yesterday, pulling out of the driveway on my way to work again, as my brain began its usual routine of thinking of the places I would rather be going than my school, I began fantasizing about an amusement park similar to Six Flags, but made entirely of chocolate frosting. All roller-coaster cars and attractions completely covered in frosting. Mascots of hollowed-out chocolate like those weird and slightly gruesome Easter bunny statues. When I shared this fantasy with Mark, he seemed disproportionately shocked, but is it really that strange to combine the two loves of my life into one glorious chocolate Mecca? On another day, while accomplishing some menial task, I began construing my life as a version of West Side Story where I was Tony and Maria was cake. I was singing the songs out loud before I thought about what this could look like to an outsider. This daydream I have prudently kept to myself, although the songs have remained stuck in my head for days.
I’m two weeks into this routine, and taking bets on whether this will get easier, or just weirder. All I know is that, like Lon Chaney Jr. on a full moon night, people should keep their children away from me because, for now, I can’t promise 100% to keep my chocolate-triggered profanity in check.