Confessons of an Addict
I knew I was cheating, but it felt like a small transgression. And who am I hurting, I asked myself. And of course, the voice in my head answered. And mine’s not a fast-talking anxious voice, but an ancient voice born of mad Viking seafarers, vicious and cold and siphoned through a cheery Midwestern lilt, and the language my voice speaks is an archipelago in a frozen ocean of silence. And the voice said simply: you’ll know. And of course I do. And really, where to draw the line if there’s a line, but maybe it’s a spectrum, a rainbow swinging from truth to lie, from white to black, from a good action to a lapse. And can one live covered only in violet?
And the truth is, my dentist is a pusher of herbs and supplements, a fish oil evangelist. According to his sermons, human health problems start with the digestive system and most of us are plagued by a universe of bad bacteria so that even the most ardent acidophilus addicts won’t benefit from the carton of Goodbelly – there’s just no room a the intestinal inn. The dentist easily talked me into a digestive cleanse, a twenty-one day feast of dust-capsules, supplements and all the organic fruits and vegetables I could crunch. The cleanse promised to wring my kidneys and liver of all the heavy metals and hundreds of thousands of toxins I’d been eating, breathing, drinking and absorbing, and to gut the vagrants who’d made my stomach their home.
No coffee, no alcohol, no nuts or seeds or processed foods, no meat, no dairy, no grains—except of course, brown rice. The hygienists and administrators in the office were glowing when they talked about the treatment, I feel so good! They said, and I couldn’t wait to begin!
The food restrictions weren’t as difficult as I imaged though they involved a tremendous amount of chopping. And I didn’t have withdrawal headaches from coffee. But I was tired. Two days in and I thought I’d sleep at work, and the office is a coffee roaster, and there’s the smell of roasting coffee, the screech of the espresso machine, the stacks of promotional materials flashing lavishly whipped milk and steaming espressos everywhere I looked—so of course I got a latte. But only eight ounces of milk and the coffee was clean, maybe not completely organic, but Darrin’s a buyer so chances are, he’s visited the mother plants and they’re not swimming in pesticides. And the latte was amazing, the milk like velvet. And the next day, I got another, a small one, maybe four ounces of milk. And I imagined the consequences, my cleanse won’t work because my digestive system would punish me by hanging onto the metaphorical shit. And I was disappointed anyways, I’d expected an outpouring of metals, my skin like a strobe light leaking aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin and mercury, yet when I looked in the mirror, nothing had changed. I was supposed to feel younger, more vibrant, look twenty-years-old—I’d eaten a mountain of kale, for god’s sake! Of course I can’t see the receding river of phthalates, bisphenol A, the pesticides but I shouldn’t I feel their absence of their poisonous presence?
But my reasonable voice said it’s only a small setback, a blip, a pebble in the universe of detoxification. And for these twenty-one days, I still have to live in the world, passing by non-organic seed-covered salads so I can gorge at home on a head of cabbage. Yum!
And so there I was, guilt laden, but awake and my cell phone rang, and I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered. And it was the chipper dental assistant to talk and she had one thing to say, coffee’s ok. You can drink coffee if it’s organic.
Yeah! I didn’t say but thought and such a rush of relief. I can do this cleanse, survive on spuds with help from my helper, I can!
I held my half-gone latte and felt guilt bleed back, onto the thrill, and that old voice spoke, iceberg cold: But the milk.