“Darn you, Rita Menke!”
I was driving home from the YMCA, cramming candy in my face, when a trickle of saliva-mixed-with-Snickers dribbled down my chin. I pounded my fist on the steering wheel and popped a malted milk ball in my mouth.
Oh, the morning had started out innocently enough. Two exercise classes, with my buddy Rita Menke by my side. If you don’t know Rita, allow me to introduce you. Besides being my chocolate enabler, Rita is a renowned girls’ softball coach at Belleville East High School. She recently was honored for her contributions to high school sports.
Her generosity doesn’t stop there.
“Happy Birthday, Michelle!” she said, handing me my present — a plastic bag filled with everything from Almond Joys to Milky Ways.
“Ah, breakfast,” I said, and we both knew I wasn’t kidding.
During my drive home from the gym, I ate every candy bar in the bag. Thankfully, they were fun-sized. But all the fun stops when you step on the scale.
Full disclosure: There is approximately one month between Halloween and my birthday and approximately another month between my birthday and Christmas. During this two-month period, I usually embark on a chocoholic bender.
But this year was different. This year, I detoxed mid-way through.
“So you’d been clean for six days when she gave you the candy?” my best friend, Lydia, asked when I told her about my relapse.
“Yes, six days! I started drying out right after you gave me the Cella’s.”
The week before, Lydia had given me a two-tier box of dark chocolate-covered cherries as an early birthday present. After I came to from my sugar-induced coma, it was easy for me to swear off chocolate for a while.
“A while” ended when Rita handed me the bag.
Yes, I take full responsibility for my relapse. No, Rita couldn’t have known of the monster she was about to unleash. We chocoholics are sneaky. When I took the chocolate from Rita’s hands, she didn’t notice mine were shaking. The sweat on my brow could have been attributed to our morning cycling class.
As for the drooling? Well, I do that sometimes.
It’s been nearly a month since my binge in the car — and I have yet to go back on the wagon. Tomorrow, my son’s Christmas stocking will be filled with all my chocolatey favorites. Since early childhood, Sam has known his Christmas stocking is more for me than for him.
Somehow his father missed the memo.
“Let him have some!” my husband will tell me Christmas morning. “What kind of mother steals her son’s candy?”
“It’s OK, dad,” Sam will say. “I’ve got what I want.”
What he wants are WarHeads, Boston Baked Beans, and Sprees. (I always put those in the stocking, just for him.) Despite half my DNA, Sam is not a chocoholic. I used to view this as a handicap. But I have come to accept him for who he is.
I don’t even flinch when he eats white chocolate — an imposter and one of my pet peeves.
Rita Menke knows this about me. She also knows I plan to give up chocolate (again) sometime after Valentine’s Day. I made sure to tell her this at a recent holiday luncheon.
I just hope she knows that Tootsie Rolls don’t count.