Crueler Donuts… May 18, 2012

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Once upon a time, for a brief fourteen seconds, I nearly convinced myself that I didn’t really like sweet things. During the sharing of such a fable, I even espoused some disdain for desserts. I said I preferred meats, vegetables and fruits over sugar-laden snacks, pies and cakes. In the midst of the relating this fairy tale, somebody walked through the room carrying a platter stacked with donuts. It was like the wicked queen displaying the magical poison apple to Snow White. My devotion to meat and vegetables was gone—my intent devoid, as I reached over with trembling hand and seized one of the lovely, circular specimens and stuffed it in my mouth.

Over the years I’ve had a great love affair with donuts, which I have, so to speak, tried to keep undercover. Because there is nothing worse than watching a really fat person eat desserts. Everybody just nods their heads and goes, “Oh, I see how it happened …”

But donuts are tough. (Or is it moist?)

I think my love affair with donuts began back in 1971, when for a brief time, I was homeless. Well, that’s a little too dramatic. I wasn’t living under a bridge using newspapers for blankets, but my wife and I didn’t have enough money for gas, food and lodging, so lodging ended up taking a back seat, and in our youthful optimism, we sponged off our friends for a spare couch or space on a patio for sleeping purposes. As you probably realize, one wears out one’s welcome quickly with such presumptions. So eventually we ran out of friends willing to lodge us for the night, and others we contacted had been fully warned of our mooching activities.

One alternative remained. (You would probably insist there was another alternative, called going out and getting a job, but honestly, that did not even enter our adolescent mindset—to pursue such an obtuse process.)

So the alternative we found was to borrow my mother’s key to the loan company that she managed, make a copy and quietly slip into the back room well after dark, sleeping on the floor of the establishment. We had to make sure that we didn’t go in until the rest of the town had gone to bed, and be out before dawn.

We had a morning ritual where we drove in our beat-up van down to North Columbus to a donut shop run by one of my dear friends who had not yet figured out that he would be better off free of our companionship. It was his job, as manager of the donut shop, to throw away all the donuts from the previous evening at about six-thirty each morning. He explained that if we would be there before the trays were dumped into the trash, that we could have as many of the rejected sugar treats as our hearts desired.

We never missed a morning.

It became one of the staples of our diet. We would usually get a couple dozen of those free blessings, buy a loaf of bread, a pound of bologna, a half-gallon of milk and two oranges. Allotting for the fact that we didn’t have to pay for the donuts, the whole day’s food expense was less than four dollars. It seemed to be an ingenious system.

(After a while, we did notice that we were gaining weight. In a state of denial, we assumed it must be the oranges, so we stopped buying them. But it was not until we got caught being squatters in the back of the loan office that we finally stopped making the trek down to get our donut bonanza, and mysteriously, after that, stopped gaining weight and actually lost a little.)

But it was through that experience that I learned to love donuts—so much so, that now, I never eat them at all—because if I did, I would have no idea when to stop.

I used to have favorites, but after a while that seemed like a waste of time and created forbidden territory that was neither satisfying nor particularly intelligent. One of the donuts I never really enjoyed was crullers. In my obese piety, I held that they were “too heavy” and more like cake than a real donut. But that particular abstention was overcome one morning when I arrived at my friend’s donut shop and ONLY crullers were available. For that day, and many days to follow, they became my favorite.

Donuts may be the only reason I ever actually drank a cup of coffee.  Matter of fact, let me tell you the top five things I like about donuts:

1. They’re portable. You can take them from place to place. They travel well. They don’t require a fork or a plate.

2. You can eat three and claim you ate one. Unless there’s someone minding the box as the “donut police,” it’s difficult to determine who is consuming what and how much has been depleted.

3. The hole in the center—an illusion of fewer calories. You can always say, “It’s not that much” because at least half of it is empty space. Which brings me to:

4. They actually make donut holes. Also one of my favorites. Especially when they filled the little donut holes with whipped cream.

5. Eating donuts seems to be spiritual. A great way to have fellowship, or even, in some cases, overcome addiction, survive divorce, or be a part of any support group whatsoever. Because there is no church or organization in America that doesn’t greet you at the door with, “After the service is over, we have donuts and coffee available…” You see what I mean? Who could hate such an innocent vehicle of human joy and interaction?

Donuts bring people together.

But several years ago, I decided that donuts were not for me. If you are what you eat, then I was beginning to resemble a jelly filled donut—big and round, with lots of goo at the center. I did extremely well—as long as I didn’t look at them, smell them or have some really wicked person offer a fresh glazed one that was still warm.

Then, on August 14th, 2011, it happened. I even remember the time—7:32 P.M. I was driving along with my wife, Dollie, and my partner, Janet, when we passed a Dunkin Donuts and I thought to myself, why not? After all, we deserved a treat, didn’t we?

So I rolled into the parking lot and told Janet to go in and get us some of the delicious items. Jan is a wonderful woman, but not someone you want around when you have an addiction to donuts. Janet has never met a sweet treat that she was not willing to consume in excess. So when I told her that we should get MORE than a dozen—so we could “save them up for the week”—she readily agreed to go in a select a variety of two dozen.

Long story short, we went back and in probably less than two hours, the three of us consumed all two dozen.

Ridiculous, you may cry. Gluttony, you might charge. But we didn’t care. Having been deprived of them for so long, we gorged.

About an hour and a half later, my stomach and brain began to conspire in some sort of mystical journey of hallucination—not that dissimilar to how people describe an LSD trip.

I was sleepy. I was alert. I was fidgety. I was sick to my stomach. I had a headache. I think I had a conversation with the devil about sprinkles or icing. Needless to say, it was a bad trip. (Stay away from the purple icing…)

I think that evening cured me once and for all—because as much as I love donuts, they are crueller. What they do is tease you with their ease. They please you with their taste. And they attack you with regret.

For after all, we want to make sure that we are the ones eating the food, and not the food, in some strange way … totally consuming us.

 

   

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