Watching home videos of our childhood visit to Disney World, I realized two truths about myself. The first is that I wasn’t a very good camera operator.
I’ll admit it: the camera work is shaky and out of focus. There exist long sequences of “forgotten footage,” where I forgot the camera was recording. In the final scene, we’re entering Paramount Studios. You can hear the excitement building in our voices as we see signage for the rides we can’t wait to experience. Mid-gait, the footage stops. Whether the tape ended or the battery died, I don’t recall. All that remains is several minutes of nauseating and askew footage.
The other truth was my focus — nay, obsession — with food at Epcot. One can walk a circuit called the World Showcase wherein countries of the world delight patrons in unique but methodical slices along the avenue. On tape, you can hear as I beg my parents, passing one country after another, to allow us to stop and eat. A quick glance at the prices dissuaded any such dalliance.
I regret the camera work, but I don’t regret the food. I remember how excited I was to sample the cuisine of France or Germany, to experience the edibles of Morocco and France, to taste the trappings of Japan or the United Kingdom. Imagine my early adolescent disappointment when we left unfed.
My relationship with food has always been complicated. I remember feeling “fat” at an early age. One such moment came in third grade when I was chosen to portray Santa Claus for our class’s Christmas program. The anointing came as we were in the early stages of rehearsal. The song we were practicing directly referenced the jolly saint, and, as the lyrics swelled to a final “You!”, I discovered everyone in class pointing at me.
They were like a tactless, mean-spirited hive mind. My peers had unanimously appointed me Saint Nick, a figurehead whose obesity is his paramount characteristic. I was a little hurt.
Every third-grader knows you get fat by eating too much food, so I guessed that was my problem. Giving up food, however, seemed impossible. (Going for a run even more so.) Besides, I wasn’t the cook. I didn’t dictate the menu. My mom would tell me what was for supper, and — unless it was sauerkraut or onions — I ate it all and loved it.
I love food. I’m probably addicted. The big issue here is that I need food to live. Unlike cigarettes or alcohol or heroin, I can’t just check into Food Rehab and sweat for a couple of hours and swear the stuff off whilst writing my memoir. I will always be surrounded by food, and I will always have to eat some amount of it to keep living. I will always be battling my addiction, often in the face of great temptation.
Mentally, each meal leads to the next one. Holli recently commented on this, and I realized that I think about food all the time. It’s not always lustful, but it’s always present: what next meal will I eat, what next meal will I cook, how much have I eaten today, what snack can I allow myself?
Not all of this obsessing is bad. Right now, I’m having a love affair with broccoli. I’ve recently discovered Vietnamese and Indian food, and I lunch at a Mediterranean place downtown with my friend, Jeff. Variety is the spice of life. Spice is the spice of food. These places have both, and they’re considered healthier cuisine.
I don’t think I’ll ever kick my addiction, but I can make sure to surround myself with healthy habits and foods to combat relapses. My third grade thespian self wouldn’t take solace in the knowledge that kids are cruel. I didn’t know back then that kids are basically douches. What little comfort I did find came in the form of a pillow stuffed down my shirt. At least I wasn’t as fat as Santa.
Do you have issues with food? Are you a fellow addict? How have you coped (or failed to cope) with it? Leave a comment.