I admit it. I have a sweet tooth and indulge it unabashedly, much to the joy of junk food merchants everywhere. I have always had this preference for candy, and as a child and then young adult was reputed to consume as many as five candy bars in a day, and that’s in addition to the same number of cans of soda. Back in Portland, my room mate suggested that I just buy an electric can opener and take the tops off of the sodas as I drank them, eliminating the step of getting one of my Melmac cups out and another not having to wash up. I took that advice, and put a can opener on the counter right next to where I stacked cases of Safeway’s Cragmont Soda Pop.
I liked sweetened cereals as well, and ate my share of Cocoa Krispies, Honeycombs and the deadly Cap’n Crunch. (I say deadly because as anyone who has ever eaten Cap’n Crunch will readily tell you, the cereal is more like a mouth abrasive than a food item. But there is something almost addictive about them…) I would turn my nose up to Wheaties abut I ate Frosted Flakes. I avoided Shredded Wheat but stood in line for Frosted Mini-Wheats. I would down a sweetened breakfast and then minutes later could be found munching on a Snickers Bar. Of course, I counterbalanced my affinity for sweets with a rounded diet of red meats, starches by the ton, and yet more sugar.
When I was age 50 and was getting a physical exam, the doctor ordered cholesterol testing immediately after hearing what I ate on an average day. When the results came back he said, with no small amount of irritation, that most 9 year olds would envy my cholesterol numbers. He complained about those of his patients who battle cholesterol wars and plaque and suffer cardiac problems, saying that they kept a good diet and exercised regularly, and that it was just wrong I should have such a cavalier attitude about nutrition and be so healthy. This was years before my Multiple Myeloma diagnosis, obviously. But my cancer isn’t from diet.
I am considerably more reserved about what I eat these days. I have had to give up quite a few things, thanks to the cancer. One effect was the way my jaw deteriorated, eventually causing the recommendation that I have my teeth removed. They would all end up coming out anyway, surgery would simply get it over with, and with a lot less pain than extractions due to abscess. When it was done, pretty much most of what I liked to eat became nearly impossible to eat. Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts first on the list. But the list grew and included things like bacon and croutons, or cereals like Cap’n Crunch. Actually, just about anything crunchy is my undoing; Doritos? Adios! I have gouged my mouth uncountable times on unexpected hard things like sunflower seeds in a salad or a chunk of toffee in ice cream.
But about the worst thing in the world I can try to eat these days are Sugar Babies. You know them; they’re the bite sized bits of caramel and derived from Sugar Daddys, which much of the population gave up a baby tooth to while sitting in theater matinees. Sugar babies are not so tar baby trap-like. They can be fairly easily chewed like any thick caramel. When I picked up a box of them I assumed that I could suck on them and let them melt into goo in my mouth. While I have no teeth, I do chew and I have some pretty rugged gums. It’s a bit amazing what I can eat after a few years without choppers. In that spirit, I made the mistake of clamping down on the few candies in my mouth and discovered that they did the next best thing to turning into glass shards. They melted all right, but in the doing deteriorated into a million tiny and sharp crystals that went after the insides of my mouth like a sand blasting machine taking paint off a ship’s hull. It starts feeling like heat on the most exposed gum surfaces and then flares into the sense that one’s mouth is on fire.
I took immediate action and got a popcicle. I knew it would cool me down and perhaps deaden the feeling some. The popcicle was tinted with blood as I licked it, reducing my enthusiasm for cold quickly. I tried sucking on a piece broken from the dual sticks, but it was too cold and my mouth too tender. It has been more than 30 hours since I did such heinous insult to my oral cavity and it is still tender and painful. My diet has been off a bit because of this, odd as my diet of still edible odds and ends I tend towards. I’ve been enjoying the peaceful things like Cream of Wheat and tomato soup. If I get bold, I may try for a soup with noodles tomorrow.
All of this came to mind as I was watching television and a guy in a show called a woman Sugar Baby. I thought to myself that meant that she was sweet and delectable looking but that inviting exterior held a lethal reality. As I watched the show, I turned out to be right. It made me wonder if that scene was written by a toothless writer, right after a mouth full of Sugar Babies.