I'm no cow licker.
I'm running away. In all fairness, I threaten to run away fairly often. I figure it keeps everybody on their toes. If they think I am apt to just disappear at any moment, maybe they'll be nicer to me while I'm around.
But, I'm really gonna do it this time. Truly I am. I'm packing my little bandana with my make-up, my White Strips and my extra hold hair spray, tying the whole she-bang to a long stick and taking off.
Where am I going?
That's some more of your business. All I will say is that I'm in search of a land where Atkins is known simply as the anti-Christ and women that are a size 6 and under are stuffed and displayed in plexiglas cases so that you can pay a quarter to look at them in carnival side shows.
And I mean that in the most Christian way, of course.
If I sound just the tiniest bit crabby, please let me explain.
I made the decision to run away about six days ago. Coincidentally, that was about the time I decided to go on Atkins.
You see, I've recently come back from vacationing in the beautiful state of North Carolina, where their license tags read, "First in Flight", but in the interest of truth in advertising should read, "We love biscuits and sugar".
It's true. I'm a good old, redneck North Carolina girl. What that means is I like me some carbs and I loves me some sugar. My parents were putting sweet tea in my bottle and dipping my pacifier in banana pudding before I could even form words. Sugar was and is it's own food group back home and all good southerners know you have to get your four servings a day or your growth will be stunted.
I've been a sugar shaking, pudding loving chick for a long, long time.
Way back when I was just a little sugar addict and I'd get to spend the night with my Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw, I'd wake up to the sweet smell of Lucky Strikes, Virginia Slims, strong coffee and home-made biscuits. I'd rub the sleep from my eyes and follow the trail of smoke to find my grandparents sitting around the table with the second most important staple of the southern diet piled high on a plate in the middle.
They were the center of attention. What we put on them, in them or around them was of little consequence.
On Maw-Maw's table she also always kept a steady supply of the things that make life worth living. Black Strap molasses, Karo syrup, honey with the comb still in it and a sugar bowl that hadn't been empty since she got it free in a box of soap in 1942.
When I sat down for breakfast, I always popped open one of her amazingly fluffy biscuits, filled it with butter and closed it just long enough to let it melt. Once the butter achieved just the right degree of "meltedness", I'd drench it in some sort of syrup and wash the whole thing down with a big glass of sweet tea. I guess I should call it tea syrup really, because there was enough sugar in Maw-Maw's tea to throw a perfectly healthy person into a diabetic coma.
Man that was good stuff.
If you opened Maw-Maw's cupboards at any given time, you'd notice that there were bags and bags of flour and sugar lining the shelves. And if you looked behind those, you'd see she had hidden her ration cards from the war. I guess she figured if our boys had to go off to battle on some foreign shore again, she was going to be ahead of the game in the sugar line.
Maw-Maw could even take something as plain and unexciting as gravy for breakfast and turn it into a sinfully, sugary goodness known as chocolate gravy.
Chocolate gravy consists of a big pile of Hershey's cocoa, a butt load of sugar, a little dab of flour, a sprinkle of salt (I have not the slightest idea why you add salt) and milk. And don't be trying anything hinky by using that 2% stuff either. We like our milk like we like ourselves...with as much fat as possible.
You mix it all up, bring it just to a boil, stir it until it's thick and then you serve it over hot biscuits for breakfast. I remember my cousins telling me that they used to take chocolate gravy biscuits for lunch to school sometimes, too. I can only imagine what would happen if I sent my son to school with biscuits full of chocolate for lunch.
"Dear Ms. Crazy On Your Face,
We will be visiting with you at your home to discuss proper nutrition and what a bad parent you are for feeding your son melted candy on bread for lunch.
The Department of We Know How To Raise Kids Better Than You"
Before you decide that it was just my family that loved bread and sugar almost as much as they loved Jesus, let me assure you it was not. It was everyone I knew. Everyone ate biscuits every single meal and Heaven forbid the tea was not sweet. If you couldn't count on anything else in life, you could always rest assured that no matter how tough things got, Praise God there was always going to be sugar in the tea.
Not only did we appreciate all things sweet, we felt there was nothing that couldn't be made better by frying it. We fried everything in oil and/or butter and/or lard. (Lard is the non-politically correct word for shortening.)
Eggs, pork, beef, and even fruit pies were all going to get fried. The idea of baking chicken was just plain silly. God obviously made chicken to be covered in flour and fried...anything less was just, well, Yankee-fied. I'm sure if there were a southern translation of the King James Bible, it would tell us that Jesus made Matthew fry all that fish they caught.
So, you might not be surprised to discover that I love to bake biscuits, eat sweets and fry everything that doesn't run from me. It's the only way to live.
Unfortunately, my forty-year-old body is beginning to show the signs of my chicken-fried life.
Now, back to my most recent need to run away.
You see, I was finally beginning to get control of some of my, shall we say less than perfect eating habits when it came time for our annual vacation back to the foothills of North Carolina.
Just like when I was a kid, my step-mom woke us up every morning with that same incredibly wonderful smell of homemade biscuits slathered in butter with some manner of fried meat buried inside. Sugar cured bacon, salty ham or my personal favorite: liver mush.
Liver mush. That doesn't even look good when you see it typed there on the page.
I'd probably have a hard time convincing you to take even the tiniest bite, much less try to convince you that it is the single bestest breakfast meat ever created in a slaughter house.
Liver mush comes in a loaf that is tightly wrapped in plastic. It has sort of a dull gray color with little flecks of red throughout. Again, as I type that I'm finally figuring out why it is no one outside of North Carolina has ever eaten it. How in the world could anyone successfully market such a thing?
"So friends, rush right out today and grab yourself a big old slab of that brain-matter-colored meat called Liver Mush. It's just good eatin'!"
I really have no idea what is in liver mush, other than liver and corn meal and spices. I don't want to know. What I don't know can't make me throw up. But, once you cut a slice of that gray loaf and fry it crispy in oil, it's all about good. I love the stuff.
And that's the way I'd start every day of vacation. I'd eat biscuits and meat until I was beyond full and then drink so much coffee (with spoonfuls of sugar stirred in no doubt) that my hands would still be shaking when it was time to eat again.
Which wasn't long.
No sooner had we finished breakfast and taken the hour and a half necessary to paint our faces and make our hair North Carolina big, then it was time for a snack.
We'd rummage through the kitchen that still smelled like breakfast in search of something sweet. Maybe we'd have a chocolate muffin packed with chocolate chips. Or maybe it would be some leftover strawberry cake from the night before. Whatever it was, we'd suck it back like we hadn't eaten in days all the while discussing what we were going to eat for supper.
But my favorite, my absolute favorite of all the mass quantities I consumed on vacation, the king of all things wickedly good in the universe........
microwave melted Moon Pies!
My Daddy told me when I came home that he had bought me an entire case of chocolate Moon Pies to enjoy while I was home. "But Daddy," I said, "I've hated Moon Pies since I was a kid. I can't even stand to smell the things."
Not the way he fixed them, he said. He popped one into the microwave until the marshmallow center sort of exploded and the chocolate covering was all runny and then handed it to me with a fork. I put the first bite in my mouth and I think I must have blacked out for a minute because the next thing I knew I was down on all fours licking the plate clean.
I was also completely addicted. I could think of nothing but melted Moon Pies. I ate breakfast just so I could hurry and eat a Moon Pie.
I watched everyone that went into the kitchen to get one and mentally counted down how many were left in the box.
I announced to my entire family that I had found my one true calling in life and when I got back to Kansas I was going to open a Moon Pie stand in my front yard and make a fortune.
I had a little monkey on my back.
So, between eating fried meat and biscuits non-stop and stuffing myself with a Moon Pie whenever I could reasonably do so, it didn't take long for my belly to begin to resemble the second trimester I was pregnant with my son. I went to put on the shorts I'd bought for the trip and saw a stuffed southern sausage with blonde hair staring back at me from the mirror.
It was nothing nice.
Which brings me to my Atkins decision and my overwhelming need to flee. When it became clear that I was either going to have to lose the weight or visit with the guy at the local fireworks stand to find out where he got his tent, I figured Atkins was the only answer.
What a dummy.
For those of you still somehow unfamiliar with the diet craze that's sweeping the nation, I'll give you the long and short of it.
You can eat an entire cow, the grass it grazes on, the tree it stands under, and everything it produces with the exception of the poop and the milk, and NOTHING ELSE! (And quite frankly, I'm not so sure you can't eat the poop.)
It's a deal with the devil himself as far as I'm concerned. You remove all the bread, sugar, carbs and joy right out of your life and in return you lose weight.
I'm doing okay on it actually. I've already lost a lot of the Moon Pie tummy and I don't think the guy at the Baskin-Robbins minded too much during the three minutes I was kissing him after he ate a chocolate and peanut butter ice cream cone.
But, as I sit here eating a celery stalk with hamburger and cheese on it, and praying that the end of time will come so I don't have to diet any more, I'm convinced that running away is my only option.
I'll run away to a land where women with tummies are prized as goddesses. Where everything as far as the eye can see is covered in sugar. Where the best people serve liver mush and biscuits at dinner parties. And most important of all, a land where Moon Pies are considered health food.
I'm running away all right. Right back to North Carolina.
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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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