Normally, I am a reasonable person when it comes to food. I like oatmeal and broccoli, though not together; I always eat breakfast; my lunch is a salad four days out of five; and I can go weeks without any alcohol. I do like chocolate--milk, dark, with nuts, plain--but what woman doesn't? I am only human.
But we all have an Achilles heel, and I find quite unexpectedly in mid-life that mine is cookies. This did not start at Christmas, as you might suppose; it started last fall, with book events. Starting in September, I made it a point to have cookies at every reading--some baked by my old high school friend Sue, who wins blue ribbons in baking at the State Fair, and some baked, less successfully, by me. This was a huge success at readings, though often there were leftovers, which I brought home and ate. Doug can take cookies or leave them. I can take them and very definitely not leave them.
The book clubs that have hosted me all serve cookies--the last such club, just ten days ago, had two kinds: little frosted lemon cookies, and tiny chocolate cookies that they served warm, with molten chocolate centers. Oh my.
It wasn't long before I fell into the habit of eating cookies every day. And not just one cookie, or two; five or six cookies. Maybe seven, depending on the size and how early in the day I started.
Things came to a head last week when our Food Editor got a carton of Archer Cookies in the mail--six or eight packages of different kinds of cookies, of which I am pretty sure I ate ten. I ate them quickly and without thinking about them or even really enjoying them, the way a person would eat ten peanuts, or ten potato chips, or a handful of popcorn.
And then I had the grace to be appalled. This is so much sugar, I thought. This is really a bad idea.
The only thing I could think to do was to stop, cold turkey. So I did. I swore off cookies. Not being a fool, or a masochist, I swore them off not forever, but for one week. That was Thursday morning, and now it is Friday night, and so I have gone two entire days without cookies, with five to go. It hasn't been too painful yet, but now it is the weekend, and there are cookies in the house, and we shall see how it goes.
Stopping is not as simple as you might think and requires much more fortitude than it should. During my normal midday walk through the Skyways of downtown Minneapolis, I am assailed with constant temptation, as you'll see in the walking tour below. Today I returned to work after my 40-minute walk a little shaken, the smell of fresh-baked cookies permeating my coat and my hair, and realizing that there are so many cookies calling my name from every corner of down town that every single second that I am not eating a cookie is a victory.
Running the cookie gantlet
At the beginning of my walk, I pass the candy store, which has shrink-wrapped yellow smiley-faced cookies filling one of the front windows. Those are somehow easy to ignore, as are the cookies sold in the various coffee shops: Starbucks, Caribou, Dunn Brothers. The first real challenge is the Mrs. Fields stand near Target Center. I know from experience that the taste is mediocre, but they are baked on the premises, and the smell is intoxicating.
And here they are up close. They do look appealing.
After successfully avoiding Mrs. Field's, I go around the corner to find "Best Cookies of the Skyway." The sign below mentions that they are all hand-made from scratch. They, too, smell delicious. I keep walking.
Just feet from the Best Cookies of the Skyway is this sign: "It's Cookie Time!"
No, it's not, I say, and keep going.
For the next leg there are cookies everywhere, but they are prepackaged, or coffee shop cookies, and they are scarcely a temptation. But then I see this sign:
Your chance 4 cookies--you know u want them. Yes, I do. U know I do. But I keep walking.
Truly, this is more Thin Mints than even I could eat, I think.
And then I am back to the beginning, past the yellow smiley faces, my loop complete. I am out of danger. But not forever; not for long.
Wuollet's is coming. Oh lord, kill me now.