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T.S. Strickland

Overmatter

T.S. Strickland is a reporter at the Carroll County News, covering Berryville, Green Forest and countywide issues. He can be reached at ccnnews@cox-internet.com or 870-423-6636 extension 32.

Opinion

Fighting addiction, or going cold turkey off pumpkin pie

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The holidays seem to have a way of reviving old vices. Lately, my mind has been racked with the desire for nicotine.

It doesn't make sense. I've only ever been an occasional smoker, and I haven't smoked at all in the four months since I moved to Carroll County.

Still, out of nowhere, I find myself dreaming in the night about taking a nice long drag on a cigarette.

I've so far resisted the urges, but meanwhile, I seem to have developed another addiction: to pumpkin pie.

I've always been fiendishly devoted to the stuff -- especially when topped with a dollop of Cool Whip and washed down with a swig of strong, black coffee. But lately, my devotion has developed with worrying intensity.

I was sitting in a cafe the day before Thanksgiving, working and sipping on a cup of coffee -- sans pumpkin pie.

This particular cafe sells something called the "Million Dollar Cookie." I have no idea what's in it, but it tastes like a dream.

As I sat there, I watched a middle-aged woman eyeing the cookies stacked neatly beneath their glass dome by the register.

I decided to give some unsolicited advice. "Go for it," I told her.

She looked up at me -- startled.

"After all," I went on, "it's worth a million dollars, and the cost is only two or three -- It's a bargain."

"Oh, but I can't," she said -- warming to me. "I have to watch my figure."

I tried to console her conscience. I empathized with her craving.

"Oh, come on," I said. "It's the holidays. Let loose -- I've eaten pumpkin pie every day for two weeks solid."

This was only slight exaggeration. I had, in fact, been eating pie daily for about one week by then.

You see, my workplace had staged a Thanksgiving dinner the prior week. It was a potluck affair, and I had planned to bake a pumpkin pie.

I didn't get to the grocery store until about 9 p.m. the night before the party, though. As I walked toward the checkout aisle with my ingredients in tow, I passed a shelf flush with stacks of pre-baked pumpkin pies.

I lingered, torn. I looked at my pre-made crusts and canned pumpkin, then back at the shelf. Would it really make that much of a difference, I thought, if I just bought a pie and made it look as if I had baked it? No one would know.

Then, a woman passed by and offered her own unsolicited advice.

"Just do it," she said. Having had my arm thus twisted, I caved.

The next morning, I left the house in a hurry to cover a meeting. The meeting ran late, and when I emerged, I realized I had left my pie sitting in the fridge. I showed up to the work lunch party an hour late and empty-handed.

That night, I opened my fridge, and there was the pie. I ate a slice, and another, and another, and ...

Back at the cafe, the woman eyed me with a smirk.

"You've been eating pumpkin pie for two weeks?" she asked in disbelief.

"Well, you don't just jump into Thanksgiving cold," I told her, trying to justify myself. "It's like a marathon. You have to build up to the big event. I've been steadily increasing my dosage. The past two days, I ate an entire Thanksgiving meal."

That last part was an embellishment. Hyperbole is my defense mechanism.

It worked. She laughed. I buried my nose in my coffee mug guiltily.

The woman rose to leave.

"Nice chatting," she said. She didn't buy the cookie.

I still have half a pie in my fridge. Last night I ate another slice. I will stop. But I have to wean myself off slowly -- like an athlete walking it off after a marathon. Besides, you know what they say about going cold turkey.