When I bite into a cherry cordial I have to make sure everything gets halved. I hate to have the whole cherry get sucked out in the first bite, leaving a drippy milk chocolate shell with no prize inside. I hate milk chocolate. I watch the severed cherry half perched in its liquid nest expanding back to a candy red circle within a circle, having been momentarily squashed by the work of my careful incisors. Then I drink the juice out, and chomp the rest of the treat.
I hate commercials that sell milk chocolate to women. It's not good for us. And it's not even really chocolate. It's milk solids and butter with some brown on it. But they paint a picture of us all coming home from work and diving into a sea of sickening light brown that washes our cares away, or a velvety mud-colored blanket that ribbons around us, satsifying an itch for bliss that no scented candle or romance novel can deliver.
Chocolate -- real chocolate -- doesn't advertise. I hunt it down in the health food store's baking aisle, or in the pretend "natural" section at the supermarket. My chocolate, when not made palatable by maraschinos, must be espresso colored and preferably dotted with savory treats like pistachios or raspberries.
I have the TV on for noise. A male announcer just referred to a beautifully thin black woman's "wavering willpower." She turned down cheddar chips and chewed a one calorie stick of gum instead. She did what she was supposed to do, I guess.
After the cherry I ate an orange. A real orange, with a peel and everything. I pulled the most spotless fruit I could find out of a box labeled "Bonnie - Navels." My Aunt Bonnie and everyone in my family gets loads of navels for Christmas. We would go to the mantel to find our stockings weighed down with suspicious swollen toes. A friend of mine once compared an old lady's rack she saw by accident to "oranges in socks." I just pictured my sister and me staring up at the oranges in socks on Christmas morning, and tucked it away as one of my favorite disturbing associations.
Navels don't skin easy. I got impatient picking off all the white orange crusts and removing sour strings and seams. I arranged the sections in a white finger bowl ringed in stylized flowers of a distinctly nineteen-seventies mustard color. I plucked out a section that was starting to drip out its juice and stuck it between my upper teeth and gums. It was cold. While I chewed it around I piled the rest of the oranges in a blue bowl and situated it on the round kitchen table, slightly off-center. The navel section was refusing to go down. I stared at the bowl of oranges and the view made the tough, stringy citrus cellulose taste better.
I thought I might try that sort of trick with all foods from now on. I wondered if it would work with magazine pictures. I could eat a flavorless soy nugget and stare at a BHG recipe card showing a crusty-skinned, seasoning-dotted roast chicken, or eat the last questionable dollops of greek yogurt, separating at the bottom of the container, while gazing at dairy ads showing waves of ice-cold cream sloshing from white ceramic pitchers. All my food experiences would be enhanced to approach the expectations aroused by the food-photography spectacularity.
I did not bathe today. I wore two bathrobes, one on top of the other. I shredded bank papers for three hours. I finished reading a novel. I shredded some poems. And these tasteful moments with food-stuffs kept me alive.