Thoughts

Shame: it’s my anti-drug.

When you fall down, some adage probably says, there is nothing to do but get back up again. Should you drop the ball, it’s time to pull up one’s bootstraps, turn one’s chin up, buck up, get some moxie, put on a happy face, do the locomotion, teach you the electric slide, and a host of other inane idioms to the effect of: it is probably best to move on after a disappointing failure.

Last week, I dropped the ball in such spectacular fashion that I half expected to see Dick Clark standing nearby, propped up on Carson Daly and happily garbling a countdown. It started innocently enough; instead of my normal power bar or vegan chilli for lunch, I decided to splurge a little and have a whoopie pie.

Whoopie pies, for those of you who are not from New England or Pennsylvania, are a wonder of physics. Developed by Amish mad scientists in the early 1800′s in a bid to exterminate the US population by way of diabetic shock, the whoopie pie is a baked good so sweet that it defies the laws of nature. Recent experiments have confirmed that every ounce of whoopie pie filling contains two pounds of sugar. In 1982, the surgeon general was reportedly set to draft a policy requiring that whoopie pies come with warning labels, but he tragically passed away after developing kidney failure from prolonged proximity to the whoopie pies he was studying. In short, whoopie pies are disgustingly sweet confectionery monstrosities that are about as healthy as picnics in Chernobyl.

I am horribly addicted to them.

One little whoopie pie, I assured myself, isn’t a big deal. My insulin levels would probably recover within an hour or so, I said. And to my credit, I was probably right – if I had limited myself to the single whoopie pie, I likely would have experienced no negative effects beyond the sugar shock on Friday afternoon.

But you never have just one snort of cocaine, or just one shot of heroin, or just one hour of World of Warcraft. No, you don’t sample your follies; you fall into them. Hard. The next morning, I breakfasted on a whoopie pie. And then, it being Saturday, I recalled that I had to attend the wedding of my friends Nick and Sara with my pal Kristin. And so I drove to Maine, where I stopped and had lunch. It took all of my willpower not to make this lunch a whoopie pie.

Nick and Sara have been together since before I’ve lived in New Hampshire. Since just after I started college, actually. Their ceremony (which literally lasted less than two minutes) was up front in admitting that this wedding wasn’t joining two people; it was acknowledging that two people had already been joined for quite some time. So from the start, you knew this wasn’t going to be a traditional affair.

There was swimming instead of dancing, casual dress rather than formal, alternative rock rather than classical music; in every way that they could, Nick and Sara took the customary wedding tradition and reconstituted it into something that suited their personal tastes. And for the most part, it was wonderful. One notable exception, however, was their take on wedding cake.

They had whoopie pies instead.

Standard chocolate whoopie pies. Bright pink strawberry whoopie pies. The decadent double-chocolate whoopie. The underwhelming banana whoopie. Mint. Chocolate chip. Vanilla. A five-pounder, containing more sucrose than a Dominican plantation, for the ceremonial cake cutting. And most deadly of all, the kryptonite of my soul, the peanut-butter whoopie pie – two pads of moist chocolate cake surrounding a core of whipped peanut butter frosting.

I don’t even remember half the night.

When the haze had cleared and I was driving home, I recall swearing, swearing, that I was done with whoopies. Done. This had to stop. It had already stopped. I was clean from here on. Until the next morning, when I had one for breakfast. Things looked grim, and I didn’t know what to do. Then I stepped on the scale.

There is something inherently jarring about a sudden spike in weight. My scale might as well have reached out and slapped me across the face. It pulled up my bootstraps, turned my chin up, bucked me up, gave me some moxie, taught me the electric slide, and a whole host of other idioms just by showing me three digits that were not, and could never be, to my liking. I haven’t had a whoopie since. I think it will be a long time before I do again.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are, unfortunately, another matter…

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