Sunday, August 29, 2010

Calorie Free Comfort

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone
All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
Peanuts -- Lucy Van Pelt

There’s no other way to do it. I’m going to have to rip the band-aid off. My name is Gabi and I don’t eat for comfort. Worse, I’m an American in the land of the delivery pizza, the takeout Chinese, the biggie fry and that’s not where you can find me when all has gone wrong. Not that I won't consume any care packages forwarded by my culinary CM compatriots. I'm just going to eat them when they get here, storm clouds notwithstanding.

I am not an alien. I do eat. Lots. I love my stepfather’s spaghetti (before you put the sausage or meatballs in, thanks) and I never met a chocolate bunny I didn’t adore the ears off. I have an account at and single-handedly skewed the chocolate goldfish buying habits of my local big box warehouse store. I may even have kept the Diet Coke people in business during the recession. But that’s just a normal Tuesday or other day ending in ‘y.’ It’s not emotional eating. It’s lunch.

Comfort, when I seek it, comes in different forms. First, I don’t seek it often. It’s not that I don’t need it or wouldn’t appreciate it but I spent a lifetime building my reputation as truly scary and not to be messed with and Linus’ blanket would dull the impact. Then again, the occasional pet-pet-pet of Snoopy appears to the naked eye like absentminded decency towards animals instead of the fur therapy it really is so I guess that would technically count as comfort.

There are movies that make me feel better. 101 Dalmations. High-tech fur therapy and the dalmations sooted to pass as Labradors could be in the family portrait of my beloved Koko don’t affect the daily weigh-in. Likewise, The Quiet Man, a strangely sweet John Wayne in Ireland tale might be found in my DVD player when the sky is leaden. I think it’s the roses he plants next to the wee cottage. You’ve never seen an unhappy Leprechaun, have you? Or one with the top button of his lederhosen undone? It’s the wee cottages.

There are places that make me feel better. Disney World with my parents. It’s like going with two 12 year olds. They want lots of high fat food before being spun on some ride. Nothing can talk them out of it. We’re talking dill pickle on a stick (the size of Oscar Meyer Weinermobile) followed by the Scrambler. I am not even making that up. There’s something comforting in knowing that my mom can laugh and throw up simultaneously. There’s more comfort in knowing that as soon as she’s up off her knees, she’s going to need cotton candy and a ride in the tea cups (which for the record three adults can get in but given the way the door closes those same three adults cannot exit the ride without a happiest place on earth assistant). Maybe you could consider it indirect comfort food. Then again, I doubt I’d feel comforted when I was as green as the pickle. It’s not a good look for me.

It’s possible I take the most comfort from the calorie out activities. We’re not talking Ironman burns but the Crayola’s box of 64 with the built-in sharpener has definitely cost me a couple or three calories. Every year about this time I buy a new box. I love the way they smell. I can peel the labels off each magic color stick (maybe 1 calorie/10 denudings) and breathe deeper as the fir green and burnt umber packaging curls helplessly into the garbage can. It’s like watching roller waves curl over a tropical beach except you don’t have to pay for luggage. And I don’t need the labels. Like any of the comfort “foods,” worrying about the labels is time misspent and guilt just waiting to attack the mellow.

If all else fails, I tell my troubles to my bear. The one my parents spent two years “breaking in” by driving over him, hanging him from the clothes line by one ear, resting him under heaving objects and general “loving him up” a little to resemble the teddy I lost when I was twelve. He was a present on my twenty-fifth birthday. Maybe they knew I’d need a little non-fattening, down low comfort from time to time and I wasn’t going to be able to find it in my largely ornamental kitchen. They’re sneaky smart that way.

Thanks for reading.



Bill Cameron said...

Your bear chatting is at odds with your scary rep. Just sayin'.

Skeeredly yours,

Michael Wiley said...

I'm not so concerned about your chatting to the bear. What will concern ME is if your bear chats back. If it tries out phrases like "Kill kill kill," I have just one suggestion. Duct tape. A single strip over its mouth, under its ears, and around the back of its head should do the trick.

Great post, Gabi.

Gabi said...

You guys are mistaking my bear for Paddington. Despite his appearance, he's MY bear. Naturally his gone to the dark grizzly side especially after an attack by an unnamed puppy left him in need of emergency brain surgery. Trauma, well, it alters a bear.

Gabi said...

Finally made it down to Seattle Mystery to pick up Day One. Smart alek inscription aside, I can't wait to read it.

Shane Gericke said...

Yes, Gabi, yessssss! Another 64-Crayola fan. I love Crayolas. Little soldiers, all in a row, quietly showing off their shiny helmets of wax in a riot of coloration. The 48s are almost as cool, sitting in their bleachers.

I discovered while mowing up oak leaves in my yard that mowed oak leaves smell like Crayolas. No foolin'.

Bill, you actually met Gabi? Jealous!

Bill Cameron said...

I missed her during my trip to Seattle Mystery Bookshop this year, Shane. but I did get to meet Gabi at, hmmm, Denver LCC I'm thinking. Or Baltimore B'Con. Can't remember which. Do you, Gabi?

Gabi said...

If it weren't yard work, I might try it to get my school supply fix mid-semester.

Gabi said...

I was in both Denver and Baltimore so we may have met twice. I'm going to have to work on my memorable.

What I do remember is sitting in that loungey (with the back breaking sofas) area outside the bar talking about creating this blog. Followed by drifting into said imbibing establishment and then, well, the memories are a little less vivid.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

A touching post, Gabi! You sound so much more sane than the rest of us gluttons. I love crayons. And coloring books. I can't draw worth a damn, but I can colorand it's very restful.

Shane, I have wandered behind mowed oak leaves and you are a genius! They DO smell the same!

Gabi said...


If I seem like the sane one, you've clearly missed your daily dosage. Ingest chocolate immediately. Better double the prescription just to be safe.

I can't draw either. Coloring books come with those great lines. My "artwork" looks like something when I put the sky blue back in the box and shut the lid for the day. You can't beat that.

Bill Cameron said...

Remember, Gabi, I was almost certainly really drunk.

Gabi said...

That explains more than not remembering me. I've always wondered why you, well, you know...

Joshua Corin said...


I (and my cholesterol count) are so envious of your comfort tactics. I may have to borrow a few for myself (although I promise to keep my paws off your bear).

Kelli Stanley said...

Gabs, remember when they got rid of the real colors and brought in those fake ones? I mean, what's up with that?

What about cornflower blue and periwinkle and burnt sienna? Excuse me!

Anyway ... love the teddy bear. We've got a lot of them around the house, and so far none have talked back, though maybe they have conversations with the dog when we're out.


Gabi said...

The bear and I will be over for afternoon snacks. You can tell him personally.

Gabi said...

You know the dog and the bear talk the second you leave the room, right? How else does the dog end up with permission to sleep on the couch?