Wherever I go, I carry one God and one demon with me. The God is a tattoo of Ganesha on my right forearm. The demon is addiction. Ganesha is the elephant headed Hindu God of overcoming obstacles, but I don’t pray to him or anything. He’s just a badass looking deity who lives on my arm as a nod to my Indian wife’s side of the family. I asked the artist to make his eyes look more Kthulu than Ganesha so he looks like the kind of God who might burn your house down rather than grant your wishes. My hope is that he might intimidate the demon, but the demon doesn’t flinch. It never flinches.
If you’ve read my previous post “The Sugar Demons” then you already know my struggle. It’s a war of attrition that only ends when the demons are conquered or they kill me. This is the story of one battle.
It’s cheat day! In my house this means we get to have ONE cheat meal. It’s a twice weekly occurrence unless we’re training for a vacation or a photo shoot, then we only get one or maybe none. Other people (including my wife) get to eat whatever they want for their cheat meal. Not me though. I have to be careful on cheat day. The demon stands behind me licking his lips. He knows this is the perfect time for an ambush.
For me, having one dessert is like an alcoholic having just one drink. One leads to two, and two leads to blackout level inebriation. Not that having a dessert will result in me guzzling sodas and missing my mouth with half eaten-cookies like a blue muppet. The manager won’t be coming to our booth to cut me off while my wife tearfully apologizes for my behavior. “He just doesn’t know when to stop.” she’d say through smudged mascara. It’s just that eating sugar now will invite the sugar demons to come again this evening, and again in the morning, and again after that, until they bring their cravings to me at all hours of the day. The more I give in, the stronger they become.
We’re going to try a new restaurant for brunch. There are a seemingly endless series of trendy restaurants opening in our city and my wife never fails to know about them. For most people going to a new restaurant is exciting. Anticipation coalesces with expectation. The food arrives and you find out if this is going to be a one time experience or a place you keep coming back to. That’s what it is for most people. Right now, I am made of apprehension.
New restaurants are hard with a sugar demon in tow. It’s not the same as going to one of the places we are already familiar with. Those are safe harbors for me. I already know what to order before I get there. New restaurants are uncharted territory and the demon will have “suggestions”. Also this is brunch. I fucking hate brunch. It’s a pretentious excuse for people to drink champagne and vodka with orange juice before noon. My demon will have company.
We arrive and my wife immediately starts talking about waffles. I would love to order waffles. I would order waffles with eggs and bacon so I could pour maple syrup over the whole thing and begin shoveling huge spoonfuls of syrupy breakfast into my mouth then lick the plate after. Is that me or the demon talking right now? It’s so hard to tell.
The waiter comes to take our drink order. His facial hair is identical to a Guy Fawkes mask and he’s wearing three leather bracelets on each wrist. How trendy. He dives into a spiel about how all their fresh juices are squeezed in-house. No thanks. If I want a glass of liquid sugar I can get one from a vending machine, I’m not paying you twelve dollars for that shit. Nice try though. He seems almost offended when I order sparkling water.
On to the menu. Here comes the inevitable ambush. This is a cheat meal. I’m supposed to enjoy it. I would really enjoy something sweet if the consequences weren’t so heavy. The demon sits quietly next to me. I keep my eyes focused on the top and middle of the menu. Hipster takes on all the classics–versions of eggs benedict called “benny’s”, breakfast sandwiches with cute names like “Havana Daydreaming”. The chef has a boner for gruyere cheese. Then I glance down. They have something called Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes! My heart races at the description. The demon puts his arm around my shoulder. Words like caramelized, vanilla creme, and cinnamon butter light up parts of my brain that correspond with puppies and Christmas morning.
Now it’s the demons turn.
You deserve this. You’ve been doing so well lately…
I order the breakfast tacos. Victory. You’d think the demon would be pissed, but he sits quietly through brunch. Listening as we gossip about family and people from work. The demon couldn’t care less about our conversation. He’s bored to tears. But his manners are perfect, almost like he’s waiting for something.
We talk, we laugh at each other’s stories, we flirt. Brunch is going well. We both finish eating. I look down and notice that my wife hasn’t finished half of what she ordered. She almost never does. What she ordered was something called Molten Chocolate Pancakes. They’re pancakes stuffed with chocolate fondue and topped with chocolate espresso crumbles. This is the real ambush. The first one was just a feint, a ruse to lull me into a false sense of security.
You can’t let THAT go to waste…
This demon’s starting to make a lot of sense. My wife looks at me through perfectly unsmudged eyes “You can have the rest of this, I can’t eat another bite even though I wish I could. It’s amazing!”
I would like to say this is where I use all my remaining strength to fend off the demon. This is where I put up one final, crucial stand. But chocolate fondue, ya’ll! Plus I want to know what eighteen dollar pancakes taste like. That’s nine dollars a pancake!
So the sugar demon wins this battle. His tactics were flawless. Pretend to lose the first skirmish, wait for me to let my guard down, finish with an overwhelming surprise attack at the end. The first rule of war is always respect your enemy, and I always do, but the second rule is to never get complacent. This is where I fell down today. The drive home takes us about twenty minutes. My next sugar craving hits before the garage door finishes closing behind me.