Remember several years ago when there was all this talk about the tobacco companies adding extra nicotine to cigarettes, causing smokers to become even more addicted?  Well, I’m convinced the snack food industry is up to the same thing.  I’m not sure exactly what they’re adding to the food that is stocked in vending machines but whatever it is it’s got to be addicting.  I know this because I’ve developed a serious problem with cheetos ho-hos and I need to quit before I get too far and one day find myself free-balling red vines and diet coke. 

For those of you who are lucky enough to avoid this trap, please heed my warning: STAY AWAY FROM CHEETOS!  They are clearly a gateway drug. 

I never considered myself a to be prone to such things.  Sure, I dabbled in the occasional fiddle-faddle and beer when I was in college but that’s not really junk food.  And besides, I never really tasted it. 

When I finally discovered the joy and comfort of the afternoon cheeto snack a few months ago I was foolish enough to think I could handle it.  Dear god, was I wrong. 

It started as a Friday afternoon treat.  I’d hit the 3pm low and rather than try to struggle with focusing on work for another few hours I started treating myself to a bag of cheetos from the vending machine to celebrate the upcoming weekend.  Gradually I started including Mondays as well, to help get out of the rest of the week blues.  Before I knew it I was having a bag everyday.  But at that point I still thought I could handle it.  I mean, we all need an afternoon snack right? 

The major denial began when I started grabbing a bag at lunchtime as well.  I knew lunchtime cheetos were trouble but wouldn’t let myself see the truth.  Instead I lost myself in their salty, cheesy goodness and pushed the guilt aside, twice a day. 

I kept this up for about a month before I added ho-hos to the mix.  It started one morning when I saw the pack staring at me from behind the vending machine glass.  I could practically hear that thing telling me how good the chocolatey, creamy cake could taste with my coffee.  I knew it was wrong but I went for it anyway.  I didn’t care.  And man did that ho-ho deliver!  It was indecent how that ho-ho tasted in my mouth.  I obsessed about it for the next 24 hours and before the week was up I was adding a ho-ho chaser to my afternoon cheetos. 

That’s when I got scared and decided to stop.  And I have to sayIMAG0023_edited a double cheeto/ho-ho habit is not that hard to break.  V-8 juice seems to satisfy my taste for savory stuff and fage fat free yogurt with fresh blueberries gives me my creamy-sweet.  And when I absolutely must I pull out a bag of baby carrots.  The sure don’t look like cheetos but for a brief moment their bright orange color fools me into thinking I’m reuniting with my old friend.  

One of the problems I have with blogging, and the reason why I don’t do it more often, is the fact that I have a lot of ideas about things I want to say and get across, I just don’t know how to say it.  Too many times I will start out with a post and end up deleting it because I end up with long rambly mess.  Let’s see if this one makes it.

It actually seems like a simple and easy to fix problem when you think about it.  Why not get the whole long rambly mess out and then pick out the good stuff? 

I guess that’s one of the things about the discipline of writing (yes, I totally think that writing should be treated as a discipline) that I need to practice.  Picking things out of the messy stuff.  It’s hard because I don’t like messy stuff.  I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t.  Dogs maybe and probably weird crazy people.  And I guess there are also some people who don’t like messy stuff but they can tolerate OK and are good at cleaning it up. 

But the rest of us, ie: me, can’t even tolerate messy stuff.  I hate it and try to avoid it at all costs.  I have to pay someone to clean my own toilets for god’s sake!  I tip toe through messy stuff when I do have to deal with it.  God forbid I actually have to create it when I try to write and then try to pick good stuff out of it.

Like this whole freaking post I’m stuck with now.  What’s good about any of this?  The tiny bit about the dogs and weird crazy people maybe, and the fact that I have to pay someone to clean my own toilets.  And I like the phrase “long rambly mess.”  But according to my spell check, “rambly” isn’t even a word.

See? 

I was 12 when I first read Forever by Judy Blume.  I didn’t sneak read it either.   judyblume-foreverWell not really.  I got my grandmother to buy me a copy during my annual summer visit.  It was horrible of me I know, taking advantage of my grandmother’s implicit trust in my literature selections.  She would have been horrified if she knew.  The thing is, any disapproval the adults in my life would have had about my reading such a book is unfettered.  I was still a virgin when I graduated high school and Judy Blume gets at least 75% of the credit.  The remaining 25% goes to my desire to avoid the guilt efficiently instilled by my mother and the Catholic Church. 

If you are a woman who spent her teenage years locked in a closet (or you are simply a man) and you haven’t already figured it out yet, Forever was a book containing graphic sexual material.  And while it was the story of a teenaged couple who falls in love it was not something I would describe as a romance novel.  To me it was a story about life and its consequences.  And the key to teaching teenagers about the seriousness of sex is to hammer home (tee hee!) the consequences. 

Unlike it’s poor excuse for a counter-part, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, where we learned nothing about sex other than it is guaranteed to get you pregnant the first time, the consequence in Forever is a broken heart.  For some reason, that hit home for me at age 12 way more than the threat of pregnancy.  Like any other 12 year old I was fascinated with the graphic descriptions of Katherine’s first experiences with sex but that graphic nature also helped me understand the seriousness of the act.  Why do something like that with a boy, I reasoned by the end of the book, if there are no guarantees that you will be together forever?  It was a pretty good lesson, I think, and far better than anything I would have gotten out of a book about a girl who would do anything for a teenaged vampire. 

My original copy of Forever is long gone. Seeing as how it was one of the few obtainable copies available to the 7th and 8th grade girls of Mendenhall Junior High, I lost track of it the summer before my freshman year of high school.  My hope is it made it through at least another 3-4 years of being passed around before pages 73, 100 and 125 fell out. 

P.S.  Through the wonders of Google I just learned that in 1978 there was a made for TV movie made based on this book staring Dean Butler of Little House on the Prairie fame as Michael and Stephanie Zimbalist (never heard of her) as Katherine?  As it does not appear to be available via Netflix I will be releasing the dogs in search of this little treasure immediately!