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Is that a monkey on your back, or are you just Quasimodo?

Two scoops or one? Salty caramel you say? Make mine a triple!

As I have often chronicled in this strange little experiment in self expression, I have what we might call a fondness for sugary treats. I like to bake ’em, I like to buy ’em, but mostly I like to eat ’em. Ever a fan of the eggy/creamy dessert, I have lately become laser focused on the vanilla/salty caramel flavor combination. It haunts my dreams and consumes my waking hours, and as the taste sensation of the minute, it’s everywhere. Mostly I find it in horrifically overpriced, “artisanal” ice cream, but it also pops up on nearly every restaurant menu in New York City. One day soon I fully expect to happen upon a box of Salti-Mellow Mini Wheats or a Seaside Toffee Streusel Swirl cake mix in the low-budget “traditional groceries” aisle at Fairway.

$12 a pint? Half a dozen, please!

In any case, I cannot get enough of the salty sweet combination, and my copious consumption has finally caught up with me. According to Dr. Feelbad (the rather unpleasant “rehabilitative nutritionist” I have consulted to find a solution to this craving madness and get me safely back to single digit sizes), it will take a truckload of expensive dietary supplements, a concerted campaign of all-around abstemiousness and frequent lengthy gym visits to undo what Jeni and her Splendid Ice Cream hath wrought. As a result, I am bidding a wistful sayonara to all things sweet, in a last ditch effort to shake the sugar monkey off my rapidly expanding back.

Now, I’ll bet you’re wondering how I came to this crisis point, and even if you’re not, I’ll tell you.  About a week ago, I woke up feeling a bit off, with a nasty burning pain in my chest and shooting pains down my left arm and shoulder blade. This, I felt, was not good, so I consulted several authoritative health websites —,, and the always helpful — and all suggested a trip to the Emergency Room was in order. So Mr. Slattern flagged a cab and checked me in, only to endure 36 hours of excruciating boredom broken only by occasional requests for blood and rounds of tests requiring sticky electrodes, the adhesive for which I am still trying to get off my torso.

“If you don’t want to wear your gown, I’m sure we can arrange to wrap you up in a filthy, staff-riddled bed sheet.”

To make matters worse, Nurse Ratched insisted I change into a hospital gown upon arrival and frequently made me walk around in it outside the relative privacy of my little ER home-away-from-home. My visit culminated with a trip down to the radiation bunker where I was injected with some kind of nuclear byproduct and told to walk on a treadmill until I was “tired.” This workout was to be conducted in said hospital johnny and hospital socks, since the stylish platform wedges I had worn to the hospital that morning were deemed unsuitable.

Preparatory to shooting me up and harnessing me to the wheel of pain, the duo of crazy Russians running the joint asked about a million questions, all of which I had already answered a hundred times, except possibly what size brassiere I wore, which in retrospect I believe had more to do with an office pool than my health. The icing on the cake, however, was the moment Igor told me that I could put said brassiere back on if I wanted to as it would not interfere with the tests. Of course I was wearing one, which really took the wind out of the sails of the good ship Self Esteem.

Long story short, by about 6 pm it was apparent to even the meanest intelligence, namely mine, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that I should be released immediately. Nurse Ratched, however, had other ideas and suggested that I stay over, helpfully pointing out that I was free to leave at any time “against medical advice,” which would clearly get my insurance company off the hook for the charges and me on it. So I stayed.

“Call us if you get an infection or if the incision opens up and your guts start spilling out all over the floor of your house. Bye bye!”

I was eventually escorted to some lovely semiprivate accommodations with a magnificent view of the air shaft and a 95 year old roommate who was most certainly not there for a spa day. There was no drink service; at no point did anyone offer me a meal; and the shower backed up as soon as I turned it on, forcing me to take a whore’s bath in the middle of the bathroom to avoid standing in the ebola puddle that was collecting in the shower stall. All through the night and into the next morning, the staff attempted to give me a variety of needless shots and pills, but no food, which was probably for the best. If the radiation and bacteria didn’t kill me, the cuisine probably would.

Eventually I got out, but here’s the thing. If I had been in there with a real problem that required them to cut me open, mess around with my organs, transfuse blood and sew me back up, they would not have been able to get me out of there fast enough. But having shown up with a fleeting case of indigestion, I was their bitch for a day and a half, despite frequent requests to leave. And so, it is a sincere desire to stay out of the hospital that has led me to embark upon the path of healthful righteousness, via the offices of Dr. Feelbad, MD.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Quasimodo by Antoine Wiertz via wikimedia commons.
Ice cream courtesy Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Nurse Ratched courtesy
Smiling fool courtesy

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