I had to quit. It was beginning to take over my life.
The signs were there, long ago: that sense of urgency, and the hoarding of one last hit to tide me over until the next day when I could rush out to buy more. I’d been stock-piling extras, to a greater extent, just in case the need ever arose, and to always have some on hand. I’d take them with me on long car rides. I’d hide a few inside a Ziploc baggie in my purse for those moments when I’d have to wait longer than expected while picking the kids up from school.
People were beginning to notice, and comment. My husband had an inkling. My kids were well aware! But, what no one knew was that I’d been waking up in the wee hours and the first thing that entered my mind was no longer the pungent aroma of my morning coffee (my other addiction) but the sweet, delicious crunch of the orange baby.
What’s in a name? Street drugs always have a nickname, or a moniker less damaging than the real deal: sugar, peanuts, ecstasy, smack, China girl, pink robots,….
So I, slowly, over the course of many years and four craving-inducing pregnancies, had become addicted to the orange baby: the baby carrot, that is! Those glorious, pre-packaged, peeled, cut and washed; crispy, healthy, treats that you people so carelessly take for granted. Just writing about it makes me anxious to partake. Like smokers always say, I’m hanging for one now.
But with that addiction comes a harsh reality: a Donald Trump tan.
You see? It was never an issue before Trump came into power. It wasn’t my reality until The New Yorker (among other notable journals and newspapers) started publishing comics, and memes, and photo-shopped, re-touched photos of the Trump in his shiny, orange skin. And it certainly didn’t affect me until I saw a head shot of myself looking exactly like I was picked fresh from a Florida grove; quite sure that if someone scratched the surface of my dimpled skin I’d smell like citrus (which really wouldn’t be a bad thing, would it?).
This was the pivotal moment when I knew. Like, I just knew. I had to give it up or forever fear resemblance (whether personally or politically) to the most-hated man on the planet.
My daughter, the budding artist, said I needed to find something on the opposite side of the colour wheel to replace my orange hue. “Try celery,” she said, “or blueberries and cucumbers.”
My son, the film student, said ” Use make-up. Lots of it!” One of my other sons, the rugby player, said, ” Take up a new sport or hobby.” My husband, the doctor, said, “No one’s ever died from hyper beta-carotenosis.”
But lucky for me my lifelong best friend is an addictions counselor, and her imagined- and real- voice speaks to me even when we live too many kilometres apart: What coping methods have worked for you in the past? How can you replace the need for carrots with an action to better your health (or in this case, appearance)? Who can you turn to for support when the burning desire strikes?
There would be no other way to rid my body of the jaundice I’d acquired over the years.
There would be no other way for me to stop obsessing over my hidden, albeit ‘healthy’, addiction.
It’s been seven days now. I’m still running on a day-by-day, sometimes even hourly, basis. My addiction is real, and perhaps lifelong. I could start a club, if there were any others like me out there…Orange Babies Anonymous.
So how do I do it, you ask? How do I manage in this ‘half-your-plate, hyper-conscious, vegetable-driven’ society that pushes good food choices on us every single time we enter a grocery store? How do I ignore the racks upon stacks of bagged and ready-to-eat veggies that lure us in from first swoosh of the front door?
My life is in perfect balance as long as I have chocolate.