There’s no such thing as a single handful of Cheez-Its – or even enough Cheez-Its. I really like them — Cheez-Its; like opium, orgasm and a good nap rolled into one. My Cheez-Its come in a large red box with two defining burnt orange stripes across the front.
They are lightly salted snack crackers, square in shape and bursting with a synthetic, yet robust cheddar flavor. They are addictive. Hell, Cheez-Its put the crack in the word cracker. To think about it, Cheez-Its ought to be shaped like little rock crystals and packaged in a glass pipe with a mouth-stem — and two defining burnt orange stripes across the front.
As my major weakness, Cheez-Its strike hardest when I am least expecting them to — when I am hiding behind my own complacency. I open my pantry in search of a quick fix for a momentary hunger. A Choc-O-Dile is too much, too fattening. Dried banana chips are too… too… well, just not enough. Saltines? Too dry! Rice cakes? Maybe, but only when the scientists who built the Mars rover get around to improving the flavor and consistency of rice cakes — not until!!! Cheez-Its? Yes, just a handful will do me fine.
I grab the unopened box and cautiously use a fingernail to break the glue seal bonding cardboard against cardboard at the top of the box. The bounty is revealed, and I partially extract the wax paper bag from within. Keenly aware of my dietary concerns, my fingers draw but a half-dozen or so crackers and I raise them to my anxious mouth.
My first taste of Cheez-Its on an empty stomach is both a rush, and a relief. Initial contact with the tongue provokes an increased heart rate. My vision blurs — but just a bit. An involuntary moan is inaudible to those about me. A shutter spreads up my spine and across my shoulders. My eyes roll back in my head and I briefly see God — frick, I love these things.
A little water will help pass the first bite along to the stomach, making room for the more important second bite which, I now rationalize, is perfectly okay since I exercise so much. In my mouth, the taste fosters the craving, and the craving now grows like a Wyoming brush fire spreading in the wind. Cheez-Its break down instantly in the mouth and can be kneaded like dough by the tongue and teeth – something to eat and something to do.
The second handful awakens me. The artificially enhanced “Cheez” flavor stimulates all of my senses. The salt heightens my desire for more. My craving quickly merges into an unnatural passion. A third handful evokes a slight feeling of gluttony. After all, it’s just been a few hands full, right? The fourth handful is usually the largest and most satisfying — 12 pieces or so, some falling to the floor as they rub the folds on their way out from the wax bag. My gluttony begins t conquer me, and the craving has grown stronger still. The mild moan evolves into a heartier twitch.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh hands full are doing sinister justice to my psyche. The wax paper bag is now noticeably depleted and a mild depression sets in as a film of guilt shrink-wraps itself around my brain. However, like a mental game of rock, paper, scissors, the profound satisfaction of flavor beats guilt every time… and I continue on.
Whatever I was doing, wherever I was going upon opening this box of Cheez-Its is less a priority with each doughy bite. I am now seated, probably watching TV or even in bed — I am cozy. A bottle of water has found its way into my non-feeding hand, the red box with the orange stripes is held firmly between my legs with the top propped open for an easy reach-in. A commitment has been made between me and this box, stronger than any human relationship I have ever had. The box is a both alter and sanctuary – the contents, fuel and stimulant. I nurse the box with an increased caution as empty space grows and substance decreases.
Across the room my dog’s quizzical eyes are fixed on me as my legs hold to the box more firmly, and my pet becomes more suspect than companion. Like a one night stand in a Paris hotel, I continue through my evening savoring each moment as if it were my last on Earth.
I recognize that in parting, though completely satisfied, I will be left in the wake of pain and solitude. A few crumbs and some orange powder are now all that is left at the bottom of the red box with the burnt orange stripes. I draw the wax paper bag from within the box one final time, tilt it up and pour the crumbly remains into my mouth, allowing the dominant salt taste to sanctify my final swallow.
The sight of the empty bag at arm’s length sounds a gong in my mind, breaking me from the trance which has consumed me for the past 20 minutes. Fantasy gives way to reality; I just consumed 1780 calories, 212 grams of carbohydrate and 84 grams of fat. Not to mention the clinical abrasions which have forged a living scar across the roof of my mouth. Guilt? Maybe. Frustration? Could be. Satisfaction? Guaranteed!!!
We are one, my Cheez-Its and I. A moment has been seized. Be well. rc