Like the predictable resolution to an episode of Sex in the City, I found myself in the kitchen last night with a bag of tortilla chips. But it wasn’t just the tortilla chips. It was an open jar of Nutella sitting shame-facedly next to a Costco-sized bag of tortilla chips. Each one I’d submerge in chocolatey goodness until it almost disappeared, coating my fingertips like some four-year-old in a patch of wet dirt. Slowly, I lifted each chip out of the hazelnut abyss, trying to shake off the extra globs of Nutella. It wasn’t long before I gave that up and just moved my mouth closer to the jar—to catch the falling chocolate with my tongue, of course.
I wish I could say there was a reason for this gluttony—that my dog died, that I inexplicably gained 10 pounds in a single day, that I finally owned up to my inability to grow facial hair. But no. In an impulsive moment of pure indulgence, I just stuffed my face with chocolate. I would probably put Nutella on anything, if it came down to it. I think I would even put it on raw carrots.
This morning, however, I looked in the mirror like a haggard, sobering homeless person and wondered how I got that brown smear on the side of my unstubbled face … which ended up on the pillow, and probably on a wall somewhere, and marked every piece of the clean laundry that I vaguely remember doing. Like a dog who doesn’t quite know where to mark his territory.
There’s no defense for this juvenile behavior, except that, well, I wanted to do it. You see, unlike Carrie, whose thought-aloud column on New York mating rituals permeates the background of her fat girl moments, I had no great insight. Other than, of course, that I probably didn’t need 35 caloric tortilla chips and 46 gobs of saturated fat-laden Nutella. If it needs be said, I don’t wear Nutella well, like I don’t wear wife beaters well. It’s just the truth.
What troubles me is that guilt and shame are usually what push people into late-night Nutella-and-fill-in-the-blank binges. For me, there was no impetus other than a chocolate lust and itching boredom. These should be sacred moments that remain few and far between, friends. We only have a certain allotment of binges, and we can’t waste them on frivolous moments when we just “want something fatty.” What happens when we really NEED the comfort of Nutella on stale pretzels, followed by scoops of chocolate chip-mint ice cream that nobody really likes but eats in moments of desperation anyway?
I confess to being greedy. Why, you might even have expected some sort of revelation while I was chocolate-gobbling, but no. Just the weary recognition that I might actually, after half an hour of dipping and face-stuffing, gain those 10 pounds.
I tell you all this for two reasons. One, so that you know tortilla chips and Nutella are actually delicious together (you’ll thank me later). Second, that you don’t waste your own indulgences on stupid things like an “I just cleaned the kitchen” reward, or “It’s Thursday and I’m desperately sober.” Hold onto these. Treasure them. Not only is Nutella expensive, but the nights when you down half a jar should be carefully enjoyed. It is a paradoxically self-destructive healing that has no reason or rationale other than your own emotional instability. Cherish that. And for God’s sake, use it wisely.
[P.S. This does not work with peanut butter. It’s far too healthy.]