Every New Year’s Day brings us a new slate and a chance to fix all the things we didn’t like about last year. For many of us this means attempting to change our eating and exercising habits. Even when we feel like our eating routine through the year isn’t so bad, every hope of “healthy” is chucked in the bin once the holiday season is upon us. Last year, I not only wanted to start eating better but also planned on cutting out many of my favorite foods and beverages while adding a fierce exercise regimen.
January 2015 started out well. I was motivated, especially by all my new fitness apparel and the hope of fitting into pants that hadn’t been buttoned in two years. But by mid January I was losing steam. The early morning alarms blasting in my ears to get up and work out were getting snoozed… several times. Then my regular alarm would sound leaving no time for fitness and fettle, only regret. By the end of January I was drudging along, fantasizing about chocolate and overly caffeinated, highly caloric drinks with lots of sugary drizzle. By the first week of February I was taunted by every box of Valentine’s Day chocolates at the grocery store. I was desperately missing my syrupy-sweet coffee creamer, and I hadn’t donned any workout clothes in a week much less stepped foot into a gym. I was sliding down that slippery slope.
But one dreary afternoon I had two cancellations at the salon that gave me just enough time to visit the gym. I changed into my spandex get-up, locked up shop and hopped in the car.
And along the way I passed McDonald’s.
I’m not sure I remember ordering that first hot fudge sundae or turning that little plastic container of sugary goodness up like a drinking cup. But I did. You can’t eat ice cream with a spoon while driving. It’s completely unsafe. Plus, you can devour it way faster without a utensil. I went so far as holding the cup completely vertical above my mouth and shaking every last drop of that ice cream out. It was as if I were a parched desert traveler making a trek across the most arid terrain. I was so distracted by my frozen treat that I drove right past the gym and straight to my home.
Suddenly, I was in my driveway with an empty sundae container and heart full of shame. I started to cry. I wasn’t crying from the disappointment of breaking a New Year’s goal or my failure to go to the gym. I cried because I had eaten all of my ice cream. I desperately wanted another, but couldn’t go back to the same McDonald’s and order ANOTHER ice cream. The workers would surely remember me coming through moments before and now I was back for more. Oh, the things they would say.
I sat in my car a few more forlorn moments until I had an epiphany. There is a second McDonald’s across town. I could purchase a second ice cream and no one would ever know.
Moments later, I was pulling up to the microphone at the drive thru. “I would like one … no…two hot fudge sundaes, please.” I said. TWO? No one who is by themselves in a vehicle can order two sundaes! I thought to myself.
“Actually, I need one hot fudge sundae, and one caramel sundae.” I said. Because one person in a vehicle can order one kind for themselves and a different variety for a friend, right?
As the woman instructed me to pull around to the first window, a brilliant plan came to mind. I pulled out my cell phone and put it to my ear. Because that makes it all the more believable!
I pay and drive to the next window still conversing with my “friend.” Another McDonald’s employee opens the next window. “Ma’am, would you like nuts with your sundaes?” I didn’t want nuts, but did my “friend?” Is it too suspicious that both sundae eaters don’t prefer nuts?
“Uh… Let me check.” I relay the question to my “friend,” nod my head as if I were hearing an answer and smile back at the employee.
“Um, can I have one with nuts and one without?” Because that sounds plausible, right? One with and one without?
“Well, they just come in little packages, and you can put them on yourself,” she tells me. I just nod, like I didn’t just ask a make believe person on a make believe phone call if they wanted nuts on their sundae.
She hands me my order and I drive out of the parking lot with my phone still held to my ear. A few hundred yards away I slowly lower the phone, all the while looking to see if anyone is watching. How do you hang up a fake phone call? Can anyone tell that I wasn’t actually talking to someone?
On the drive back to my house I felt like I had pulled off some sort of dessert heist. I had them all fooled! No one would have thought both ice creams were for me! I parked my car, got out and walk into my house with a gleeful bounce in my step. I placed my loot on the kitchen counter and started to pick up the remote. And then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the wall.
I stared at my reflection with embarrassment brewing in my gut. The face that stared back at me was a face with a shiny, sticky and quite obvious hot fudge ring that emerged from both sides of my mouth and crested on the bridge of my nose. There was a slightly bigger dollop on the side of one nostril that looked as if it had attempted to streak down my face but had turned into syrupy sludge before that could happen.
Suddenly, I was no longer concerned about whether or not the McDonald’s employees thought both sundaes were for me.