Gluttony: a Late Encounter with the Enemy

          Chocolate.  Swiss, not its lackluster American cousin.  Stamped with dwarfs, partitioned in precise chunks.  It is 6am.  Do I pilfer a piece before the hemp-chewy, sure-to-lift-your-bowels-to-Valhalla bran? From behind the kitchen door where each morning he faithfully spreads his lipid-quivering loins and waits to tempt me anew: the squinty eyes of Gluttony.  I grip the Formica.  I count. One, two, three, four…I grit my teeth. Like a dentist’s forceps my free will reaches deep and yanks out a response:     

            “No !!!”

            “Is there a problem here?”

            He emerges from his hole. From the corner of my eye I see him coming, an easy, menacing amble like the three hundred pound nose-tackle who can break your jaw with a forearm. Tommy Hilfiger teal sweater. Lands End Chinos Size LXX. More acne pits than Manuel Noriega. In a smooth Sicilian whisper he accosts me.

            “Hey, my good friend, I had this stuff imported from Willie Wonka land.  Hey, you are a class act, right?  De Niro has this little chocolate number every morning.”

            I turn to confront him.

            At first there is the stench, pig sty and perfume counter. Then, it shifts, one odor flowing into the other.  Now, T-Bone, now chitlins, now  Medaglia d’Oro, now Strudel. Behind the smells, the visual image shifts, too. In the swirl I make out a tricorn, a monk’s cowl, a crown, a wreath of bay leaves.

            “I am a diabetic.” I say, firmly.” That chocolate will launch my blood sugar to 300 mgs.”

             Belch.  Whiffs of parmesan, baklava, sweet and sour sauce, Jimmy Dean’s finest.

            “I respect that, I do. I understand these limitations which I as a supernatural am not confined by.  However, I would suggest that you keep all vistas open.”                                                                                                                         “What vistas?”

            He reaches for the chocolate.  His nostrils flair.

            “The Russians, for example, are working on a cure for prostate cancer that involves chocolate.  You may find that particular health care option fits into your horizons.”

            He swallows two sections, licks his fingers.  Savors them, breathing deeply.

            “M-m-m-m-m-m! Can those little watch makers make chocolate, or what? Sure you won’t have some?”

            “Blood sugar, remember?”

            “And there are limitations regarding the current state of scientific inquiry…who knows …sugar is a complex term…there’s maltose, dextrose, fructose, sorbital…I mean, who can say whether aspartame is really fooling your taste buds or is it maybe eating away at your pituitary gland at the same time.”                                       

            “Speculation. What isn’t speculation is what happens to the body when it ingests enough sucrose to reach 500 mgs. per deciliter of blood.”

            He reaches for more. Smacks, licks, slurps.  It’s like watching Java the Hut trying to retsrain himself.            

            “This is so good.  Now I understand their ability to handle large amounts of questionable funds.”

            His conversation is disjointed now. He cajoles, coos, insinuates, entices. 

            “What is this–5000, 6000 calories?  And what are you having?”

            “Bran. With bananas”

            “Excellent choice. Although I usually throw in some M and M’s and maybe some Peanut Butter cups, a few malted milk balls. “

            “That’s not a breakfast.”

            “Who made you the health guru? Look, I respect your opinion. You’re struggling here to make some healthy choices and by golly, my hat’s off to you for trying to stand up to this weak-bellied, follow-your-gut-because-it-feels-good philosophy that threatens to bring this great country of ours down.”                                        

By now he has the weighty Swiss bar in hand eating a la hamburger. His massive, long, brown stained teeth attack the bar; brown spurts, his eyes roll. He’s eating the foil, too. Thrusting it all in, jamming it, ramming it in his mouth which no longer resembles anything along the phylogenetic scale, but now seems some fantastic orifice spun out the drug-crazed visions of Burroughs or Huxley.  Massive mastication, lingual lacerations–he seems to be racing an inner time clock  He begins blinking, rapid, tear-blurred flapping and I realize that he is actually afraid he may not be able to stuff all of it in at one sitting. Panic sets in.  His whole body jerks and twitches as he seems to call on every muscle to aid his cause. A long, audible groan and quiver rises from his toes upward until his entire body is one shimmer and the last golden gobbet is consumed.

            The kitchen is silent. Outside, a street sweeper passes. I watch as he begins to climb back out of the ecstasy. After nearly choking, after picking the tin foil out of his teeth, and after wiping his mouth with the back of his sweater, he regains his equilibrium. His face seems to throb. His Sertorius breathing seems louder.

            “Ungh-gh-gh-gh. Primal…primal.  Nothing like it on the planet.”  A belch rattles the windows and threatens to waken the dog. Mumbling, he staggers toward the door, gropes for the knob .

            “Next time. You …next time…”He exits.

            Inwardly, I smile. The chocolate is gone and desire for it is gone, too and my bran is beginning to taste good.  

            Even the Devil has his uses.              .






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