My first thought here is do I want to write about this? Do I need to make my weird private habits public? People who have read my memoir will say that page is already torn.
Two weeks I lost my Freudy, a cat I had wrapped my heart around. He started to fail and within 24 hours had died in my arms. The initial shock lasted that first day. The second day was harder as the feelings started to thaw. By the third day I began on what were to be pounds of M&Ms, a product I don’t even like ever since I got acclimated to 72% cacao.
But M&Ms have traditionally been comfort and stress food. Cheap, sweet chocolate with an extra therapeutic advantage: I get the peanut M&Ms, and since I don’t like peanuts, I suck off the layers of candy coat, then the chocolate. Then I spit out the peanuts to be collected in a pile and distributed to the squirrels to keep them out of my fruit trees. Those of you who are orally oriented will appreciate the aggression of sucking off the chocolate and spitting out the peanut. The rest of you won’t get it.
The week after Freud’s death, I went through pounds and pounds of peanut M&Ms. When I got to feeling thoroughly sick of them (and of myself) I continued through another few bags and finally ground to a stop. For a day or two I ate an exemplary diet while the waves of grief crashed around me. When I couldn’t endure the feelings any longer I went back to a comfort/stress food that predated the M&Ms.
Chocolate Poo. That’s what I called it in college. I grew up in a family that didn’t buy things like candy or cookies. We didn’t buy anything that could be made (more cheaply) at home. Pretty much all junk food that came out in the 60s: Fritos, Oreos, Lucky Charms cereal et al were dismissed by my mother with the joy-quelling words, “We don’t need that.” So when I went to college I was still oriented towards making, not purchasing.
Chocolate Poo is essentially chocolate butter cream frosting. Ingredients are chocolate, powdered sugar, butter, milk, pinch of salt and splash of vanilla. When I make it for a cake I call it frosting. When I make it for comfort food, it’s Chocolate Poo.
When the M&Ms palled, I remembered my atavistic comfort food, Chocolate Poo. I had some incredibly healthy, organic baking chocolate in the house, some salt and the vanilla. I had to get the powdered sugar, butter and milk. I creamed the butter, added the powdered sugar, chocolate, vanilla and salt, and then slowly dribbled in the milk until I had the primo comfort consistency. I carefully cleaned off the blade of the food processor and licked my finger. It didn’t taste quite right. A quarter of a cup later, I decided the incredibly healthy, organic chocolate ruined it. I threw out the Poo.
The next day I bought some Nestles’ semi-sweet chocolate chips, thinking they would elevate the flavor to comfort level. They didn’t. Maybe it had been Hershey chocolate I used at school (and the next several decades.) The day after Nestles’ I bought a can of Hershey baking chocolate and more powdered sugar. By then I felt like everyone in the city of Seattle knew what I was doing.
The last batch of Chocolate Poo still wasn’t quite right but was close enough. And there were still chocolate chips left, which are a kind of auxiliary comfort food that my therapist once memorably referred to as “little nipples.”
I’ve cried through all these iterations of Chocolate Poo because chocolate really isn’t strong enough to suppress the feelings invoked by knowing that my little guy is gone and he isn’t coming back and I am very, very sad. Comfort food is a futile attempt to get some relief from all the sadness but I keep trying.
Cheetos used to be quite satisfying. I wonder if they are hard to make.