Personal Shopping

Psychosis are a large part of growing up. We all have them, end up with them, or see them developing. My psychosis morphed from outrageous inflictions that I endured to something that I hold dear. Almost like the laws–or jaws– of life.

Take for instance, fruit salad. Chopped fruit in a bowl is not a traditional psychotic trigger, but for me it marked the moment when I knew I would have to marry my then boyfriend. After I shared with him my level of crazy I would have to keep him. I couldn’t trust him out in the world– knowing my most intimate secrets.

When i was growing up, my (somewhat) neurotic mother always used Briana’s poppy seed dressing on her fruit salad. There was no fruit salad made with Martingnetti’s or Marie Callander’s versions of the dressing, only Briana’s. Briana’s is a Texas-based company that only recently started popping up all over the US– mostly because people started to realize just how much better Briana’s dressings taste (and they don’t just make poppy seed, they make everything).

After I left home to travel the world exploring my soul, my eating habits became less than admirable. Most nights I would curl up with a jar of Prego and a spoon, stopping only wen the acid tomato mixture had effectively burned a whole in my stomach. The lasting effects of that diet are chilling.

When I finally settled in Boston to finish college, my Southern roots began to grab hold. Obviously I was never going to find a decent husband if all I had to offer him was a jar of Prego and some animal crackers. I would have to learn to cook. At the very least, I would have to learn to prepare. Fruit salad was a superb jumping-off point.

For a while I only ate fruit salad. I would look for Briana’s at every grocery store, and when I found it, I would eat fruit salad for every meal, until the dressing was gone. I would then fall into a pit of despair.

Grocery shopping is secretly personal, and I had managed to keep my then-boyfriend-now-husband from ever accompanying me. The way that someone makes their way through the grocery store speaks volumes. It’s not a matter of what they choose (everyone gets tricked by marketing or influenced by their budget), but how they choose it. I may or may not need to go down every aisle. Every time.

When I finally took him with me, it was clear that marriage or murder were my only clean options. How could I have known that he thought Oreos and “Tuxedo Cremes” tasted the exact same? Or that I would have to explain why you ONLY buy Spice Island spices?

Absently, I said that I wanted to find poppy seed dressing.

Standing in the fruit aisle, he pulled a jar off of the refrigeration shelf and put it in the cart.

“What’s that?” I asked him. Calm, trying not to panic.

“Poppy seed dressing– didnt you just say you wanted some?” he replied with the naivety of a baby deer.

I stared at the jar nestling itself against my produce, wondering the best approach for defusing the situation. It wasn’t a because my mother bought it, it was because poppy seed dressing was SUPPOSED to taste like Briana’s. It was a taste thing. It actually tasted better. It tasted like it had been made for my by someone who cared about me.

Instead of a rational explanation, I produced word vomit.
“That one is poison. It is mass produced and it tastes like mayo with pebbles in it.”

Oh no.

It was immediately clear that I had made a mistake. He looked at me for a long second and then asked if I had a preference on all condiments.

“Of course.”

I  knew then that everyday was going to be an uphill battle. The boy who was raised on “President’s Choice” soda vs. the girl winced when she thought of generic oreos.

But I couldn’t just kill him. . .

The Fat Chronicles

Part One.

For Halloween this year I dressed up as a Serrano Pepper. It was an involved costume. I bought a pair of red spandex leggings and a red V-neck top. The incorporation of spandex meant defying my own moral fiber. I have long since had a rule about Halloween and spandex–Halloween and corsets are no different. I’ve always felt as though fat people use Halloween as an excuse to wear the two–sometimes, frighteningly enough, together–as though magically, and for one day only, they had lost 50 excess pounds of flesh.

To rectify my own error, I was sure that the top that was to be worn over the leggings had ample length to cover my rear, and the legging ample length in the waist. Pulling the leggings up past my navel certainly seemed to state a clear message:

 I am not pretending that I am thin. I am not claiming that I am sexy. I am pretending to be red.

I spent a painstaking amount of time drawing out the perfect stem. I knew it needed a curl, something fabulous, but not so fabulous as to be considered “Seuss-y.” I showed the drawing to my husband. He laughed.

In my relationship, a word-less laugh means one of two things:

1. You are out of your mind, and you absolutely may not have that.

2. You are out of your mind, and I know you are going to make me support you in this.

My husband pulled the recipe for paper machet out of the broken pieces of his poverty-stricken childhood and handed it to me in a bowl. A Pyrex bowl. One of the 36 that we received as a wedding gift.

A second Pyrex bowl was employed as the mannequin for my stem. I sat below the kitchen sink and tried on all of our Pyrex bowls until I was able to find one that fit my head perfectly. I then said a silent, and somewhat unexpected, thank you for all the Pyrex bowls we had.

The stem was fashioned from an old Martha Stewart Living magazine. It seemed the only appropriate hommage.

A friend’s husband painted it the perfect color of Serrano-pepper-stem green. Actually, it was some spray paint left over from the earlier painting of an umbrella stand.

Finding a way to fix the stem to my head proved tricky. The tying method I had imagined failed miserably, and I ended up having to pin the somewhat heavy stem to my delicate strands of hair. It made no difference, though. I looked phenomenal.

Later that night, we won a costume contest.

Congratulations to the Mormon Missionary and the Tomato.