Monday, March 28, 2005

my dark passion

as a consequence of being a permanent dieter, one with the ranks of those who know for sure that you can lose many battles and somehow still advance your troop position, but still never truly reach the end of the war, i am constantly taking note of my relationship with foods of various kinds. i am not one of those fortunate people blessed with the kind of metabolism that enables them to burn through an ice cream sundae like a honda fcx burns through hydrogen; my metabolism, unfortunately, would best be likened to a school bus. in fact, as i write this, i’m sitting here wearing my yellow t-shirt. i think i’m going to go change.

okay, that’s better. my point is, i’m not able to take a vacation from my diet, unless i want to expand to pre-g.i.-bypass-al-roker-like proportions, or, alternately, to present-day-elizabeth-taylor proportions, complete with sagging bust line and misfiring synapses.

but as a consequence of this hyperawareness of food, i’m obsessed with it. were it not for my diet, i’m convinced, i wouldn’t experience the overwhelming cravings for ice cream, chocolate, cheesecake... umm... hmm.

one second.

where was i? right. this is the irony of dieting; resisting all of the things that help you handle the stress in your life creates its own stress, and this stress knows only one solution: more ice cream, the more cookie bits in it the better, and now, please.

i’ve been aware of my weight since i was a kid, but that didn’t stop me from indulging myself in all of the various treats located at assorted points throughout the kitchen, and being a touch o.c.d., i knew the exact locations of each item and how much of each item remained like some kind of gourmand savant or autistic foody. i knew about food my parents didn’t even know about, and they were the ones buying it. i even knew how much cheese was left in the mouse traps in the garage! and had i ever been stricken by blindness at a young age like jimmy in that book follow my leader, i would still have been able to find all of the cookies, cakes, and ices strictly from memory or, failing that, by a process i like to call "toucan-samming-it." i would have been like daredevil; like a pudgy, overweight little daredevil, wielding my small, half-eaten billy club of cookie dough righteousness against all... who should threaten to take away said small, half-eaten billy club of cookie dough, and that includes parents, doctors, or anyone looking out for my best interests.

now that i’m older, and more aware of nutrition, of fats, both saturated and trans-, mono- and poly-un-, of proteins and their amino acids, of carbs, both the good and the bad, and occasionally the ugly, i have placed certain foods on restriction, asked them, if you will, to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve made me do. and one of these foods is nutella.

before the ferrero corporation sends me hate mail, hear me out. nutella is a wonderful substance, and i use the word substance because i would never wish to diminish its grandeur by referring to it as "food," which is what we would call it were it actually from earth. but it’s not. while i can’t be sure, i believe nutella either originated in heaven, with dogs, cats, and eva mendes, or it came to us in a small escape pod launched from a distant, dying world populated by an advanced race of people who realized that they were too far gone in their addictions to the stuff to be saved, and thus felt compelled, in the final dark hours of their once-great civilization, to expurgate the evil and, if possible, really fuck up some other planet in the cosmos, because what good would the death of an entire race of people be if they couldn’t drag down at least one more with them? after all, that’s what addicts do; it’s no fun shooting up when there’s no one there to share your needle.

and the same is true, incidentally, of s.t.d.’s, which is why they spread so quickly. and i can only hope that if we ever send out a group of people to conquer another planet, at least one man and one woman aboard that ship is afflicted with siphilus. it’ll be the smallpox of the space age, i guarantee it. we’ll call the ship the u.s.s. noah and we’ll tell the natives that they’ve been stricken by the wrath of our god, which they’ll believe because the dementia will have set in by then. space is so cool!

but i digress. nutella is a chocolate spread cleverly bonded, at the molecular level, i’m told, with the souls of a million hazelnuts (rendering them mere filberts), and quite simply, it is the greatest confection ever created. ever. no, ever. stop even trying to dispute this, it is a fact. think about it: not only is nutella delicious on its own, but it tastes great on everything, and, as if that weren’t enough, it comes to us in a convenient serving size, i.e., one jar. however, i must warn you: once you eat it, even if you only eat it that one time, you will be physiologically addicted to it forever. years from the day you actually wean yourself off "the jar" you’ll have nutella-induced flashbacks, and there isn’t a methadone clinic in the world that can help you. so, remember, i warned you.

now, about three weeks ago, my sammy-sense detected the presence of nutella in the house, somewhere in the back quadrant of the kitchen pantry. despite the fact that it’s seated on a stool facing the wall in the topographical map of my dietary restrictions, under the sign that reads, "sugary things loaded with fat and calories that i should not eat," i decided, hey, i’ve been off the jar for six months, surely by now i’ve developed the strength of will necessary to tangle with the "tella," as us addicts call it. and i thought this because the mind sometimes tricks us into believing we should do things we should never do, things like running three consecutive miles or watching thirty consecutive minutes of john stamos’s new show, which, by the way, will be among the items in the u.s.s. noah’s inventory for when we must reveal the face and hair of our lord. and based on my faulty reasoning and deep craving for chocolate, i reached for the jar.

there are many descriptions regarding one’s first sweet taste of the illicit, of the rush that accompanies the violation of the taboo, whether that taboo be imposed by culture or by the self, and because i am not a good writer, this will not be one of them. but trust me when i say, something changed after the blade of my spoon pierced the placid dark of the chocolate’s surface--my taste buds were suddenly alive with the screams of the hazelnuts (now filberts), like an ancient creature asleep for centuries in the caked mud of a dessicated lakebed somewhere in the southwestern united states that one day is deluged by some off weather pattern originating in the pacific and at once raises one eyelid to survey the resurrection of its prehistoric habitat and now vigorously propels itself from the site of its long slumber to seduce its prey and grow fat on their living. it was just like that. except replace caked mud with imitation mashed potatoes, and well, you’ve got it perfectly.

my taste buds could see again is i guess the point of that simile, and what they could see was chocolatey darkness, and it was wonderful but it kind of stung, which is what chocolate does when it gets in your eye, if you’ve ever had that happen to you. and if you had, you must be augustus gloop. nice to know you came out of that unfortunate pipe accident okay.

once i had that first taste, i was unstoppable. i found myself eating nutella round the clock--no time was a bad time. it got to the point where i couldn’t go to work without a quick dip, and then it was i had to have a little scoop with breakfast and another before bed. meanwhile, i was eating through jar after jar after jar.

i knew i had hit rock bottom one morning at breakfast. see, that original jar was my father’s, and as a way of rationalizing my guilt for eating it, i promised i would replace it, which i did promptly. problem was, he wouldn’t open it, which astounded me because my father is a man who knows no restraint when it comes to certain foods, and i mean that literally--the idea that one man shouldn’t eat half a can of corned beef on half a loaf of italian bread along with, oh what the hell, some olive oil and cheese has never actually occurred to the man, ever. every diet he’s ever been on has somehow included this one magical caveat, the one special trapdoor leading straight to some kind of hormel-brand indulgence, an amazing truth considering canned corned beef is one of the few foods that communicates, via its appearance, the actual effects it will have on your heart. yet he was able to resist opening the nutella. i was in awe. not long enough to stop myself from opening it and swallowing it whole, but awe nonetheless, awe stemming mainly from his lack of consideration. the nerve!

so after i had bought something like six or eight jars of the stuff--for my dad--i come to breakfast and see him at the table with his half a loaf of bread and the jar of nutella. naturally, i’m pissed, because, that’s my fucking jar, dammit. so i open the pantry dejectedly, realizing i have to eat cereal, and what’s staring me dead in the face but another jar of nutella, the one i had bought only the day before, for him, and begun eating shortly thereafter. now i felt guilty.

"did mom go to the store?"
"oh." pause. "where’d that come from?"
"i bought it at the store."
"there’s some in here already."
"i know. but i saw you were eating that one, so i bought my own."

i was devastated. somehow, through machinations i admit dumbfound me, my father had managed to get food into the house, and i didn’t know about it! me! blind jimmy, daredevil, the autistic foody, the gustatory jedi who, drawing upon powers only paul prudhomme, jared from subway, and i understand, knew everything there was to know about what food was where! i had been bested, tricked, by my father, a man almost 1.03 times my height! and it was then, as i sunk into despair, that i realized it was my addiction that had dulled my senses, that i was adrift in a tumultuous sea of creamy chocolate decadence. as i greedily slurped up the remnants of my jar (i had to finish it--how else could i put an end to my temptation?), i made a resolution.

switch to peanut butter.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


it says "what were we thinking" in latin. [photo courtesy]

to anyone who saw me on the 11 o'clock news on tuesday night: i apologize. i should have known better.

how did this happen? i'll explain.

on tuesday night, my friend tony and i went to the edwards cinema in mira mesa to catch a (free!) special screening of the pilot for a new nbc drama called "revelations." the show is about the apocalypse.

no, i'm not joking. the show begins with the premise that events foretold by the book of revelations are happening now and that the hour of judgement is nigh. it even has little fraser-like breaks where it'll quote scripture regarding our impending doom. as you can imagine, these quotes are far less charming than the ones on "fraser," because the ones on "fraser" employed double entendre, so you didn't know exactly how they applied to the following scene. by contrast, the quotes "revelations" used were more to the effect of, "i hope you're enjoying that ice cream cuz in three hours i'm gonna come down there, reach up your ass, and flip you inside-out like a reversible jacket. sincerely, god."

no, i couldn't find that one in the bible either, but i'm sure i can trust nbc when it comes to scripture.

at any rate, i can honestly say i enjoyed the show despite its heavy-handed dialogue, its intrusive, incessant, and overbearing score, and its unrelenting sense of doom.

once the program ended we exited the theater and were ambushed by the media, and by the media, i mean the one and only lynn stuart from the KNSD news team, and by ambushed, i mean politely asked for an interview.

and by we, i mean tony and i, though you really should have known that because i made it pretty clear in the third paragraph. pay attention, people.

tony was first up, and he's the one who should have made it on the news because he's photogenic, attractive, and because he won the award for best line of the night. stuart asked him if surveying audiences and using their input to make a show more appealing is the newest form of reality television, and without skipping a beat he replied, "i think the newest form of reality tv is me being on the news!"

i'm sure that brightened lynn stuart's day because she had just arrived from the scene of a hit and run accident in hillcrest, and thus knew nothing about the show, period. tony could have told her that the show was actually called "revelasians," about eight immigrants from the pacific rim in their twenties, partying hard in nyc by night, spending their days together lounging in a coffee shop, and spending a lot of time dressed up like women so they could keep their swanky pad in a girls-only apartment building. but because she's a professional, she would have immediately asked him a predictable quasi-intelligent question like, "and how did watching the show affect your attitude towards transvestite immigrants?"

unfortunately, i'm the one whose face was broadcast to hundreds of viewers throughout san diego. i swear, i never thought they'd actually put me on tv, and i'm truly very sorry that some people had to see my face shortly before bedtime, and especially if any children were exposed to that grisly sight. though i'm sure their first question was probably something to effect of, "mom, if he's there, who's scaring little hungry billy goats from under a bridge?" and the answer to that question is, of course, michael jackson. and i hear he's got candy.

seriously, though, i think when the camera man saw me coming he said, "now i know there's got to be a way i can make this kid uglier," because he shot me like he had a vendetta, like i had killed his turtle in the second grade and he'd been waiting his whole life for this opportunity. before tuesday night, i had never actually seen a face that looked like it was fashioned out of spare parts, but that's what my face looked like on tv. it was more of a collage than a face. my nose was twice as big, my forehead was short and wide, i was sporting some kind of sling-blade haircut, and though i knew that the camera adds ten pounds, i did not know that it also reverses years of orthodontic care. that camera fucked up my grill so bad that beetlejuice guy from the howard stern show sent me some sympathy flowers with the name of a good dentist.

plus i was operating on three hours of sleep and had been up for about 15 hours before i was interviewed, so i was putting all of my energy into fashioning coherent answers, but i guess when that happens my facial expressions go apeshit! did you know that eyebrows can move left to right? i didn't, until i saw the news. and not only were they doing shit with absolutely no regard for the rest of my face, but they were even moving independently of each other. i looked like johnny-five from those short circuit movies having an epileptic fit! and thankfully, the camera was there to record the moment for posterity.

if anything quiets the shame, it's that i'm not insecure enough to believe i actually look like an ogre. however, i was insecure enough to get up immediately following the piece and check my face in a mirror.

i wasn't even going to go on. several people were interviewed, and all of them made valid points. by the time my turn came, all of the useful comments had been made; whatever i had to say would be redundant. i put my hand on tony's shoulder and said, all right, dude, i'm ready to leave, and then lynn stuart stuck out her hand and said, "and what's your name?" and i believe i said "I'M GONNA BE ON TV! WOOOO!" i think media culture has me programmed. putting that camera in my face was like pushing some kind of a button; from the moment the interview started, i was on autopilot. i barely remember anything she asked, nor do i recall much of what i said, i just remember not thinking at all before i spoke, like i was some kind of a medium channeling the spirit of a fucking moron. in fact, i think i may have answered one of her questions by yelling "YAHTZEE!" but the editors were kinder than the camera man.

nevertheless, the actual experience was a lot of fun. not so much because of the events that occurred, but because of the feeling that i was getting the inside scoop on something. even if i don't watch tv, and probably won't watch the show... well, at any rate, i got to sit in a movie theater for free, and i wasn't going to pass that up. and all it cost me was shame and humiliation. which is really not terribly unusual for me.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

more thoughts on love

i think about relationships and romance a lot, mainly when i should be focused on other things. you know, like when you're at work, but instead of thinking about the project you've got to finish by the end of the day, you're thinking about the woman browsing the science-fiction section. or you're in between reps at the gym. or working with non-dairy creamer near an open flame. the point is, i'm obsessed, and i've been this way my entire life.

for instance, when i was in 8th grade, i made my friends bet me that by the end of our freshman year in high school, we'd all have girlfriends.

ironically, i was the one responsible for losing that bet. thankfully, they're good natured people and weren't too concerned about collecting their winnings, which is nice, because i never had any money to speak of. in fact, if i recall, i paid them off with cassette tapes; school of fish's self-titled release, and nine inch nails's "broken." ahh, the nineties.

but this obsession stretches farther back than that. when i was in kindergarten, i was terribly upset because i thought the girls in my class didn't like me, so upset, in fact, that they called an emergency meeting with me on the playground during recess to explain that, yes, they did like me, but that this liking would not extend to making any wild accusations about my hygiene, up to and including any insinuations that i might have the "cooties." furthermore, there would be no exclaiming "ewwwwww" or "gross" as i walked by, nor would there be any spontaneously planted kisses on my cheek followed by running and giggling, which, as we all know, are the signs of budding schoolyard romance. these would instead be directed towards my cuter friend, michael, who had a red "beat it" jacket and could do the moonwalk.

curiously, these are still the primary signs of nascent affection, and owning a red "beat it" jacket will still get you laid in some circles, circles that are currently in litigation by the santa barbara court system.

my point is, i've always been anxious to find "the one," and to understand the little signals women send to indicate that they are interested. yet for all of the time i've spent thinking about love, i've spent very little time in it. for all of the crushes i had in high school, i never went out on a single date, leading me to believe i would be alone forever. i even wondered aloud whether or not i ought to just join the priesthood. sure, my athiesm posed something of a problem, but i figured we could work around it, kind of like when your student loan payment is due but you have no money. i figured maybe i could put my faith on layaway. every month, they could ask me, "do you accept the lord jesus christ as your savior?" and i could say, "well, not completely, but more than the last time you asked me. keep talking about the fish and the loaves and the wine, i'm sure i'll come around. can i have another wafer? i swear these things are not filling at all."

now that i have been in a few relationships, i know that it won't be long before i'm in one again, a thought that terrifies me, because being alone is so much easier. for one thing, when you're single, it's far easier to find someone to have sex with. and when you're single, you have a lot of friends, people who will support you, who will listen to you, who will go places with you, people you can trust. a relationship will bring you none of these things.

obviously, i'm kidding. friends won't bring you those things, either. if you want people to listen to you, you'll have to pay them. or start a blog. now people i don't even know listen to me.

joking aside, i have never found it difficult to fall in love, a tendency that has caused a great deal of pain throughout my short life, because, as easy as it is to do, it's hard to know when the object of your affection is right for you. it's even harder to find the girl (in my case) who is worth being with but isn't already with someone else. and then, to make it even more difficult, it's truly a challenge to find a woman who is good, by which i mean, does not distribute poisoned apples to fairer women who curiously live with seven coal-mining midgets yet have not been discovered by reality tv.

no? okay. what i mean is, a woman who will encourage you, protect you, listen to you, and care for you, be there for you. a woman who will let you go when you have to go because she loves you unselfishly. i would truly be sexist, i think, if i did not state that i expect a good woman to receive the exact same treatment from whomever she is with. i.e., good people should be paired with good people, because that way, each person is able to become more than what he or she would have been if left alone. a strong and healthy community of friends or a close-knit family can yield the same results, i believe. but i don't really know for sure.

in an effort to demonstrate that i am worthy of this kind of affection, i present this list of promises to my next girlfriend, who is, right now, only a figment of my imagination, in hopes that it will convince her to take a chance on me and, oh, i dunno, stick around for more than three dates.

in my next relationship, i promise i will:

1 randomly surprise you with gifts or other tokens of my affection
2 always listen to you, even if you're talking right in the middle of family guy
3 continue to take you out on "dates."
4 do the dishes, even if you don't ask me to
5 stop exclaiming "boo-ya!" after sex. even when it lasts more than a couple of minutes.
6 no, take out from the local grocery chain won't count.
7 not lie to you, not even little white ones.
8 okay, there may be times when you have to ask me to do the dishes. but i'll do them.
9 look, it's family guy. just let me have family guy, okay? and aqua teen hunger force.
10 dammit, i don't care if they're repeats, they're the only shows i watch.
11 there may be lies, but i promise, i'll only tell them to... protect you from future prosecution...?
12 because tivo is expensive, that's why!
13 you might have to endure the occasional "boo-ya!" or boo-ya's redneck cousin, "yabba dabba do!" i can, however, promise that it will definitely only last a couple of minutes.

if that.