By Lisa Sugarman
So these three ginormous scoops of ice cream are sitting next to each other, on top of a banana, in a fake plastic boat. The vanilla scoop says to the chocolate scoop, “Who the hell would be stupid enough to eat all of us at one time?” And the black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream scoop says, “Jeez, I dunno, but they’d have to be one helluvan idiot.”
Famous last words, I guess.
That’s what I’m sure my scoops of ice cream were saying to each other as my cousin and I started ripping into our three-pound banana split last weekend after a day at the lake. I’m not sure of the actual weight, but a three-pound ice cream sundae seemed like the right amount of dramatic to make my point. And let’s just say that I felt like Adam Richman from Man v. Food.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, what the hell were you thinking?! (And that’s without you even having a vague sense of what this thing really looked like. Otherwise you’d be saying that I’d lost my ever-lovin’ mind.) And you’re partially right. What the hell was I thinking? Because, truly, that much dairy, all those toppings and nuts floating around in one relatively small belly all at the same time is bound to have catastrophic consequences.
But the pathetic irony is, I actually was thinking. And my thoughts were crystal clear. I knew exactly what I was doing and although I proceeded with caution, for obvious reasons, I went in eyes wide open. (Mouth, too.)
Funny, I know, because anyone who knows me well knows that I’m pretty vigilant about what I eat. I don’t deviate much. I’m not like a food Nazi, I’m just mindful. Although my friends at work make fun of me (yes, you know you do) because I rarely if ever indulge in the fun goodies that parade around the office every day. They’re all convinced that I never partake. Wrong. Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
What I try to explain to them is that I pick my moments very carefully, that’s all. I indulge, just ask my family. I’m just very deliberate when I do it. That way it’s more meaningful.
Like the time last winter on our drive home from ski country when I had it in my head that I needed a chocolate-covered coffee roll. (And yes, I do understand the difference between need and want, thank you very much.) I wanted it as much as I needed it. And although I only get that kind of a Defcon 2-type craving rarely (like once every two years), I take them seriously.
And in this particular case, that meant swinging into every Dunkin Donut’s drive thru from North Conway down to Ossipee. And there are many, trust me. Unfortunately for me and my poor 13 year-old daughter who I dragged along with me, there were no chocolate-covered coffee rolls left on the East Coast. Not my day. But, as cravings will often do, mine forced me to get creative. And lemme tell you, desperate times can bring out the best and the worst in people. I’m not exactly sure which one it brought out in me, though. I’ll leave it to you to decide.
At the last drive thru I was given permission to stop by, I ended up buying the only things they had left: a plain coffee roll and a Boston cream pie donut. Now here’s the bizarre twist… I peeled off the top of the Boston cream and smooshed it onto the coffee roll. And voila! Best! Chocolate-covered coffee roll! Ever! And no, I haven’t had one since. Haven’t needed to. Craving satisfied. Problem solved.
See, I generally feel like too much of a good thing is usually bad. You know, all things in moderation and all that. I believe that being disciplined is good. In fact, it’s necessary. But every once in a while, we just have to say, “WTF!” (And I don’t mean Warwick Theater Fund.)
Every now and then we just have to be able to indulge and not beat ourselves up over it. And that’s the key. We have to allow ourselves the right to eat the crispy extra-cheese pizza and the crinkly steak fries and a few of the beer-battered onion rings, and then maybe just a little taste of the bacon pizza (I mean it was right there in front of me). All without feeling like we’ve fallen ass over elbow off the wagon. Because if we’re mindful and consistent most of the rest of the time, that’s actually the ideal.
The expression, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is floating out there for a reason. It serves as a reminder that we need to have the down to have the up. We can’t have the black without the white or the coffee roll without the chocolate. They just don’t work properly alone. Like if there were only one-way streets everywhere, everybody would be going around in circles. The universe needs balance. And the same goes for each of us as individuals. We’re not supposed to only go in one direction without any turns. We’d just get dizzy and fall down. And where’s the fun in that?
We need to fill the void every now and then. Because we’re human. And cravings, in spite of the Cravings-disappear-if-you-wait-twenty-minutes Rule, need to be satisfied one way or another. Otherwise most of us can’t move on. And we need to be able to move on. So that’s why we’re allowed, even encouraged, to have a treat from time to time. Because it preserves the natural balance of things and maintains a certain harmony.
So although I have no formal certification to grant anyone a license to do anything, I’m giving you my personal endorsement that you should feel free, every now and then, to indulge. I know we still, at least for a short time, have our bikini bodies to keep in mind, so just keep your head on straight and don’t overdo it. And you know what I mean when I say that. Balance, people. Balance. I mean all things in moderation…even and especially the bad ones.
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItisWhatitisColumn OR follow her blog at https://itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com.