If I could have foreseen the danger, I never would have gone into the kitchen. But I was up late, reading, and it was time for my late night bribe. You see, I had made a deal with myself that I would treat myself to a little something-something in exchange for making the trek to the gym each day. It was how my mother bargained with me to take medicine as a child, and how my father once convinced me ride shotgun to Houston with him to repossess an El Camino, but that’s another story for another day.
In March I had looked into the bathroom mirror and saw a naked Pillsbury Doughboy standing before me. I gently poked a finger in my puffy tummy, but it didn’t make me giggle. It had seemed only yesterday that I had lost 20 pounds by cutting out processed foods and doing cardio every day. But then the holidays came and I cheated here, and cheated there, and then extended the holidays to Saint Patrick’s Day. I knew things had gotten out of hand when I sat down and the button popped off my pants, ricocheted off the walls, and knocked the cat cold. Something had to be done.
I walked up Glenwood Avenue to Snap Fitness because I figured the closer the gym, the greater chance I would make it there. The trainer performed a physical evaluation on me, and I was surprised to learn that my Body Mass Index (BMI) was obscene and I had no flexibility. I mean who cares whether or not I can touch my toes? I’m only concerned that I can pose for the cover of Men’s Health at any moment’s notice and be the “after” model–not the “before” model.
I stretched and hit the weight machines. I started light, concentrating on proper form, and added a little more weight each week. At the trainer’s suggestion, I gave up sprinting around the park as fast as I could until I threw up, and collapsed in a different neighbor’s yard. Instead, I shook things up with the treadmill, recumbent bicycle, and the elliptical trainer, which I always mispronounce as the epileptic trainer.
I promised myself I’d go every day. Sometimes, I’d go first thing in the morning, flying through my day with a sense of accomplishment. Other times I would put it off as long as possible. Finally, the guilt would get to me and I’d end up at the gym around midnight. I’d pedal onward while the television screens above me showed a T.V. show where grown men in athletic supporters competed to see how long they could hold a stun gun on their private parts before passing out. In a weird way, it inspired me, so I picked up the pace a little.
Besides exercise, I needed a nutrition plan to lose the extra fat and build muscle. Unfortunately, most of what I’d like to eat is not included. I knew I could never stick to any crazy diets, and needed to find healthy solutions whenever I ate out. I learned about the good fats and their evil twins. I discovered which carbohydrates are immediately processed into fat by the body, which carbs are burned slowly throughout the day. In the end, avoiding processed foods worked best for me. I ate a lot lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and certain grains. No matter where I went, I could usually find a salad, and the extra fat began melt off. I checked my progress constantly whenever I passed a mirror. I became so focused on it that one sunny day I caught myself lifting my shirt and checking out my abs in the reflection of a Porsche in the Target parking lot.
As I flipped on the light and padded into the kitchen, my mouth had already begun to water for what kept me pumping iron, taking that next step on the treadmill, and shoveling more lettuce into my mouth: Popsicle No Sugar Added Fudgsicle. At the end of the day, there’s something about the cool, chocolaty creaminess that makes everything seem better. I opened the freezer, unwrapped a fudgsicle, and popped into my mouth while I loaded dirty glasses into the dishwasher. When I reached to pull the frozen treat out of my mouth, though, I realized it was stuck. My lower lip was caught on the Fudgsicle like that kid’s tongue to the frozen flagpole in A Christmas Story. I couldn’t believe it. It was summer for Pete’s sake! Plus, I’d been eating Fudgsicles my entire life without an incident. Why now?
I wasn’t patient enough to wait until the Fudgsicle melted, so I finally just gave it a good tug. Aigh! It felt like someone ripped a tattoo off bare flesh, but my little something-something was free and ready for me to enjoy, so I popped it back in my mouth. However, this time it tasted funny. I pulled out the Fudgsicle; it was covered in blood. Not a little dribble of blood, but like Old Faithful gushing to impress tourists to Yellowstone National Park. I grabbed some napkins out of the pantry and pressed them against my lower lip, yet it continued to bleed. I was debating if I could make a tourniquet with the twist-tie from a loaf of bread when 2F’s staggered into the kitchen.
““What are you doing?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.
““Yi wipped muh wowah wip off wif a Fuchshickle,” I said, as the white napkins that were glued to my lips with dried blood flapped in the air like a duck’s bill.
Jeff studied me for a moment. “I think I still must be dreaming because this is even too weird for you.” He wandered back to bed as I considered how guilty he would feel when he found my body prostrate in a pool of dried blood the next morning.
In the end, I didn’t bleed to death. I ripped the top layer of my lower lip off. It was tender for about a week. I was scared I would need a skin graft from behind to cosmetically restore my mouth to the sexy and plump lip I had before, but it was unnecessary. When people asked what happened to my mouth, I told them I bit a bullet. An awkward moment would pass, then they would smile, and meander off without a word.
So the next time you tiptoe into the kitchen for a midnight snack, be wary of frozen foods. Whether it’s ice cream on a stick or a raw fish fillet, be sure to lube that baby up with spit real good before you stick in your mouth. Should you find that a piece of frozen food has attached itself to your lips, do not panic. Just hold your head under running water until it slips free. Otherwise you better have plenty of napkins and a twist tie handy.