I like dessert. I like it so much, in fact, that I have a dessert philosophy. It is this: BALLS OUT. When it comes to dessert, I do not fuck around. I will eat half a bar of that gargantuan Trader Joe's Pound Plus milk chocolate in one sitting. I will eat a pint of ice cream, even when I am not depressed. I will eat a whole bag of Hershey's Hugs and only occasionally get a stomachache. If I approved of eating contests, which I don't, because their culture of waste and gluttony reeks of the Roman Empire teetering on the edge of destruction and makes me despair for the future of America, I'd enter a dessert-eating contest, and I would win that sumbitch.
I am a chocolate snob - well, not full-on: I don't love funky stuff in my chocolate. Bacon = no. Edamame = it's really good, but you're pushing it. Black pudding? I'm not making it up: British chocolatier Paul A. Young has a black pudding truffle, but come on. Anyone who claims they like that is just lying to look cool. I guess I'd say I'm upper-middle-class in my chocolate taste. I like Lindt, Godiva, Ghirardelli, and anything English. I also only like milk and white chocolate - not dark - which means I'll never be a true chocolate connoisseur. That's OK with me, because I don't want to chat with you about chocolate. I just want to eat it.
Going balls out means I don't fuck around with low-fat desserts. There's no time. I am not going to waste precious calories on anything with no sugar added. What's the point? I'll just eat a piece of fruit. Also, who knows what Frankenchemicals are in things like sugar-free Oreos? I'd rather have a pint of that Haagen-Dazs with only five ingredients. Fat, fat, fat, fat and fat.
There is a sort of dessert ladder I employ when my balls-out philosophy must adapt to times of austerity (i.e., when there isn't any chocolate in the house). This is because I crave sweets terribly, and will stoop to certain levels in order to get my fix. If there's someone around to watch the kids, I'll head to the grocery store. If not, the dessert ladder goes into effect. Once I made a saucepan full of Bird's Custard and ate that. Another time I ate some condensed milk. Baking chocolate will do in a pinch. If I am really desperate, I will have a Crunchie, which I hate.
I can't pass my dessert philosophy on to my children. I must go balls out in secret. (Come to think of it, it's probably a good idea, whatever one means by "going balls out," to refrain from doing it in front of children, right?) Luckily the baby doesn't know what dessert is yet. When I stop by the kitchen to shovel a few Dove's Promises into my head, he is none the wiser as I sit him on my hip and unwrap the pieces of chocolate one-handed. The four-year-old is too smart and can smell it when I kiss him goodnight. Then he gets angry, because my chocolate breath reminds him of the painful fact that I can have dessert whenever I want, but he can only have it when I say he can. I never eat dessert in front of him when he can't have it too. That's just mean. I also eat the same amount of dessert he's having. I don't want him to see me inhale the entire tub of Trader Joe's Macadamia Nut Laceys. I want him to have a healthy relationship with sweets, rather than my extreme-sports relationship with them.
I need dessert, I tell myself. Raising two kids is stressful. Other parents drink wine or smoke crack. I've got to unwind somehow. Bubble baths and yoga take too much time. Recently, though, I've started eating much more healthily - lots of whole grains and vegetables - which is great, because it means I'm saving more calories for dessert. Besides, who would I be without dessert? Sometimes I feel as though my unashamed consumption of sweets is one of the ways I define myself. It's one of the only ways I rebel anymore. But what am I rebelling against?
When it comes to bad habits, I am an all-or-nothing kind of person. I can't have an occasional cigarette; within a week, I'll be up to 30 a day. Quitting smoking for me meant just stopping - getting to the end of the pack of cigarettes, and just stopping. That's probably how I'll quit going balls out on dessert, which I will have to one day, I imagine, unless I want to ruin my health in several ways. I will try my hardest to practice moderation, but it's hard to imagine myself eating one little piece of chocolate and then primly pushing away the rest. Best not to have it around at all. Just as a retired skydiver gently folds his parachute and places it in mothballs, I shall tuck away my extreme dessert habit in the cedar chest of my memory. Oh, how I will mourn when that day finally comes.
Right now, though, I'm going to go get another bowl of ice cream.