One month before I turned 28, I was tempted into Marie Calendar’s by a sign: “Banana Split Pie, $5.99.”
“You know you’ll need to eat this soon,” said the clerk. “There’s fresh bananas in there.” She nodded at the pie as she placed it in the box.
“Will do,” I said. I went home and ate Banana Split Pie for lunch, then dinner, then breakfast the next day, and lunch, and then, sadly, it was gone. No kidding, I didn’t eat anything but that pie for an entire 24 hours. What? I was single at the time and I had to eat it before the bananas went bad – a perfectly logical course of action that resulted in a logical consequence – diarrhea.
After that painful experience, an incredible idea came to me – not unlike when Edison invented the light bulb. From then on, I would eat only one dessert a day.
The next day, I went on my weekly mountain bike ride with my best friend Beth. In the middle of an intense uphill pull, I blurted, “From this morning on, I’m only going to eat one dessert a day!” It was a proud moment.
“What?” her voice sounded almost angry. I looked back to see the top of her helmet. Something about the top of her helmet made me think she wasn’t smiling.
“Only one dessert!” I yelled.
“Are you kidding? How many desserts do you eat now?”
I imagined that her eyes were squinting. Between breaths I said, “Five. Six maybe.” To be honest, I didn’t know how many, but that sounded about right.
“What? How can you be upright? When do you eat normal food, like carrots?”
“For lunch, I ate carrot . . . cake . . .”
After our ride, I ate a heaping bowl of ice cream. Beth looked at me skeptically.
“What?” I grimaced defensively. Her eyes focused on the heaping glob – probably the size of a regulation football. “Hey, if I’m only going to eat one dessert, it’s going to be a big one!”
The next day, Beth and I went climbing with our friend Brad. On the approach, Beth grinned. “So Brad, Polly has this new goal. She’s only going to eat one dessert a day.”
Brad choked on his dill flavored sunflower seeds. He spit them out in one giant heave, and hit his chest with his fist. “How many did you eat before?”
I didn’t dare speak. I looked down at my Chacos.
Brad reprimanded me. “Why don’t you make a goal to not eat dessert at all, like a normal person?”
A normal person? What was normal for a person? I decided to ask my Jr. High students. One girl claimed to eat hardly any dessert. When I asked her why, she just stared at me. “Is it because you don’t like it? Because if you don’t like it, I don’t think that counts,” I said.
She shrugged her shoulders.
In the faculty room at lunch, I brought up this same topic with the same result. No one claimed to eat more than two desserts a week. Was that normal?
I realized that the term normal was of no use. The scope of normalcy these days ranges from low carb folks to vegans. I think you're normal if you can fit in your car. What matters is whether you can fit in your car.
Since I can fit in my car, if I must eat, I might as well eat dessert.
~a guest post by Polly Scott