2.25.2008

Twinkie

It was 9:30am. I had been awake for nearly two hours, and I was starving. It wasn't just "any" kind of starving, either. It was the sort where one's metabolic functions look like a steadily plummeting barometer before one bitch kitty of a thunderstorm, except instead of atmospheric pressure dropping, it was my bloodsugar. I was on the road when the shakes started to kick in, and my stomach was staging a massive revolt whereby upon the absence of actual sustenance, it was beginning to consume itself while saying: "Feed me NOW, bitch!" I was determined to wait it out, to will away the demands of my most wayward organ, but there was no more waiting. It was either divert off the road to the nearest convenience store to grab something to hold me over, or vomit steaming bile in my lap. Not a good idea. I don't know why I let myself get to such a point of ravenous hunger. Call it thoughtlessness. Call it thinking (perhaps erroneously) that a girl of my size can perhaps stand to skip a few meals every once in awhile. There is also a bit of arrogance mixed in there. I'm "tough," dammit. There are full-grown adults who weigh eighty pounds who are still breathing. I think I can go 12 hours without a meal. Well, not this morning.

As I staggered through the doors of the neighborhood junkfood haven, I didn't really have a plan in mind. Actually there was nothing in my mind. I can't even tell you that I remembered parking the car. All I knew was I needed sugar or I was going to pass out. As is the case with any junkfood haven, sucrose, fructose, and every other compound ending in "ose" is available in outrageous supply, and I need not walk more than four steps before encountering some. So here is my big "Ah-HA" moment, for as I glance near the cash register (what I think of as the honey spot for all things fattening), I spy an array of Hostess snacks, you know, those things that are more a feat of engineering than actual food. I feel the back part of my mind groan at the sight of them. I've been culturally and scientifically engrained. As much as I love food that is bad for me, even I have a limit. But that back part of my mind also knows that it's not in charge at the moment. The feral little weasel in my gut is, and it needs to be assuaged forthwith. I step up to the counter and grab the first object it lands on: a package of Twinkies. I fumble my buck and a quarter out of my pocket and without even waiting for the change, I make for the exit, hoping that I'm not staggering, and also hoping (needlessly so, thanks to the bitch that resides in the self-flagellating part of my brain) that the store clerk didn't think that the fat chick was having the physiologic meltdown that she clearly was having.

I tore into the package before I even got to my car and took my first bite of a Twinkie in at least half a decade. I had forgotten what they tasted like. The first Twinkie, I didn't even notice the flavor. I was more consumed with fixing the faltering machine otherwise known as my body. In fact, I think I nearly swallowed the thing whole while thinking to myself that this ought to do the trick. I should be able to make it home without fainting from a rare hypoglycemic spell.

And then the real taste kicked in as I started working on the second Twinkie, and the only word I could muster was "gack." Memories flooded me, ones that I was shocked were still a part of my internal hard drive. Memories of remarking to myself years ago that Twinkies are perhaps one of the most disgusting foods on the planet, those rare ingestible things that should fall under the category of: "Things People Eat When They Hate Themselves." Other players on the list would include Big Macs, Easy Cheese, Wonder Bread, and Dinty Moore Beef Stew.

There is just something so inherently "wrong" about a Twinkie. It's pure science. There is not a single ingredient in a Twinkie that by itself would allow you to survive in the wild, and in many cases would actually kill you on the spot if you ate too much of it. The overall texture and flavor of the "cake" is reminiscent of a Scotch Brite sponge soaked in anti-freeze. The filling tastes and feels like sugary lard with a metallic tinge that likely came from the machine that extruded it, and it coated the roof of my mouth like Vaseline. The overwhelmingly saccharine experience of it all burnt the back of my throat, and attempts at flushing it out with water were futile, as the greasy fat that was now lining my mouth acted like a water-tight barrier, barring my tastebuds from salvation.

To put it bluntly, my soul felt like it was raped after I ate a Twinkie, and I was left with the inalienable certainty that I was summarily subtracted two years from my life, one for each Toxic Deathcake I ingested in an attempt to recover my bloodsugar to an operable level.

And the kicker, as I now sit here comfortably in my home, thankfully not feeling the shakes but more like the shadow of death has moved ever closer to eclipsing my being (at least in the larger sense. I'm sure I've got some years left), I am hungry again. It's almost like in eating the worst food known to (and created by) man, I actually haven't eaten anything at all. It's like a cruel illusion, for I know the fetid residue remains.