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Tuesday, 11 March
Flow My Tears, The 12-Ounce Can Said

I know it's generally a lame joke pertinent to pregnant women, but everyone now and then gets food cravings. The thing is, many of mine are recurrent; worse, some of them are totally perverse and shameful. This is fine for kids; kids are supposed to act in perverse ways (though not shameful--that's for the parents). For a while when I was about three, for instance, I craved nothing more than raw butter. My parents would find me in the kitchen gnawing happily on a stick of butter, and then of course they would hurl me into the dark basement as punishment, which was fantastic for me, because that's where they stored the potatoes, my other weird, awful craving: raw potatoes. I'm not kidding (except about the basement-punishment, of course); I loved me some raw potatoes. Fortunately, none of these had any lasting power, of course, and I grew out of them in due course. Also fortunately, I also grew out of most of my unfortunate dietary obsessions, such as, for example, my preteen penchant for peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwiches. (For years I ate these noxious things, until one day I hit upon the brilliant idea of peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches. Further proof that children are horrible, freakish little goblins who should be bound in shrink-wrap and kept immobile until the age of eighteen.)

There is one thing I didn't quite grow out of, at least not totally; almost but not quite, and it fills me with horror to even confess this, but: Spaghetti-Os. I don't know what to say about this, except that there is evidently some tiny, unkillable node somewhere in my brain that every now and then raises itself from its torpor and barfs up some synaptic whatsis that generates a bunch of electrochemical holy-fuck all over the goddamn place until finally my brain gets it and throws up its cerebrospinal hands and yells, "Jesus, fuck and Liberace, we have to buy Spaghetti-Os again." I don't know why, and it's horrible. Maybe some reptilian olfactory voodoo that's sitting in my cortex gets all sentimental over this shit, but it drives me crazy; every now and then (maybe every year or two), I get this violent, deep urge to eat some Spaghetti-Os, and I battle with it, knowing that I'm doomed, I'm going to cave in, but maybe this time . . .

No, fuck it, of course I'm not going to win, and I have to go buy Spaghetti-Os. I do this even knowing what a cruel, vicious letdown the experience is going to be in the end; it doesn't matter. It's nearly publishable fucking proof of determinism, quite a feat in today's world of quantum sleight of hand, but there you go: Spaghetti-Os are particles more fundamental than quarks. Fuck you, Murray Gell-Mann.

So inevitably I find myself, a grown man, trudging desolately to the supermarket to buy my stinking can of Spaghetti-Os. You have no idea how embarrassing this is for me, and I don't make it any easier on myself either, because I'm so psychically shattered by the whole debacle, I don't even possess the wherewithal to conceal or even mitigate my terrible purchase. I could hide the can inobtrusively amongst a bunch of other groceries, or perhaps kidnap an errant child off the street and force him at knifepoint to pretend to be my offspring, and isn't it cute how the little scamp loves his Spaghetti-Os? (Smile for the nice checkout lady, or it's curtains for you and Mr. Boo-Bear.) No, not me: dazed with sad horror over my state and filled with foreboding at my upcoming culinary Waterloo, I generally just shuffle over to the ghoulishly merry wall o' canned goods, select one solitary can of Spaghetti-Os (with Meatballs! It's IMPORTANT!), and wander unsteadily to the checkout line and plunk my sad, lonely freight down onto the conveyor belt. What a picture: a beaten, flutter-eyed guy, obviously single and given to gloomy bouts of cheerless masturbation, purchasing his one measly can of Spaghetti-Os, probably bought with the last couple bucks left from his long day of giving plasma down at the blood bank. At least, that's how I feel. Then I scuttle home with my awful booty, and the real fun begins.

Of course, it's all free-fall from here on out. I break out the can opener and skreek off the top of the can, and that smell fills the room; I am instantly at war with myself. My kidhood nostalgia (what a great smell!) wages a pitched battle with my adult rational mind (what an unholy reek! please don't eat anything that smells like that!), but events that have been set in motion are now unstoppable, no matter their violence to reason and judgment. I dump the radioactive wobbly cylinder of jack-o-lantern colored sludge into a pan, where it slumps morosely. A mushy orb of near-meat detaches itself from the mass and makes a break for it, only to bump sadly up against the side of the pan, where it stares up at me helplessly, beaten and afraid. "I'm sorry too," I whisper, and turn the heat up. Presently, the mass has settled into a dire puddle of sauce and broken pasta rings and meat-lumps, and it bubbles wanly.

I dump it into a bowl and eat it. That's all, I just eat it, like an automaton, blank-eyed and efficient. It tastes, I hardly have to point out, like it came from some joyless, gray kitchen manned by Strindbergian vampire chefs who evilly suck all the nutrients and decent flavor out of their dishes and then serve them to their doomed, emaciated guests. It's over. I feel vague relief, coupled with a sense of disappointment that yet again, I've lost another battle. The eerie taste-not-a-taste coats my mouth, and will for days. But the important thing is, it's over.

For now. Reset the clock.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Oh, dear.

During a conversation over lunch, I inadvertently blurted out my own penchant for Spaghetti-O's just today. My coworkers all stared at me in absolute horror. I feel your pain, man.

Comment number: 000435   Posted by: Chris on March 11, 2003 09:18 PM from IP: 24.29.152.195

I suddenly have such a major craving for Watties tinned spaghetti (the New Zealand equivalent).

Comment number: 000436   Posted by: Shelley on March 11, 2003 09:19 PM from IP: 202.89.128.86

I still remember the years I lived off campus, outside of Boston, and, on recycling day, walking home, would pass by recycling bins and their sad collections of vacant Spam cans and other delights.

It is the closest I have ever come to finding evidence that such things are, in fact, eaten. One learns some scary things indeed, in college.

Comment number: 000437   Posted by: pfattmeff on March 11, 2003 10:20 PM from IP: 24.62.115.184

No, no Man! You have to embrace the Spagetti-O lover within.

And it's with Franks, man, Franks.

(Geez, it's been like 4 years since I had those. Now you got me all craving them.)

Comment number: 000438   Posted by: Anony Mous on March 12, 2003 05:38 AM from IP: 63.100.108.19

My greatest food sins occured during my college years when I would return home after a drunken night of ass-shaking, crack open a can of some Boy-Ar-Dee horror and spoon it straight from tin to mouth.

Comment number: 000439   Posted by: Rob on March 12, 2003 05:58 AM from IP: 216.16.231.34

Mmmm.... cheese ravioli in tomato sauce.

Comment number: 000440   Posted by: Hawg on March 12, 2003 07:03 AM from IP: 209.202.116.19

A not so anonymous officemate suggests getting your spaghetti-os fix at supermarkets with self-checkout lanes so that you can retain your dignity, or what is left of it.

Comment number: 000441   Posted by: 6y on March 12, 2003 08:06 AM from IP: 198.30.212.128

If there were some kind of blog Oscar, you surely would win. I'm in my 40s and still love raw potatoes. That starch on your teeth!! Ahhhhhhhh

Comment number: 000442   Posted by: Bet on March 12, 2003 09:04 AM from IP: 12.34.246.35

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And remind myself that no matter how awful life gets at least I don't have any desire at all to eat Spaghetti-os
And no one else can tell I'm afraid.

Comment number: 000443   Posted by: anapestic on March 12, 2003 10:11 AM from IP: 216.181.58.90

I, too, have a shameful love for Spaghetti-O's. I used to pretend they were octopus tentacles. OK, so I still do. But the "meatballs" are key.

God, what if this gets out? They'll never let me into culinary school now.

Comment number: 000444   Posted by: jen on March 12, 2003 11:03 AM from IP: 159.53.238.242

When we were little kids my brother loved eating raw butter. Also, frozen hot dogs. As in, straight from the freezer. No cooking or even heating involved.
Me? I have no weird food cravings. I eat healthy. That thing I do where I'll occasionally buy a whole bag of Cheetos and scarf it up in one go? Total fluke.

Comment number: 000446   Posted by: abby on March 12, 2003 01:06 PM from IP: 4.33.83.185

This is my first time commenting here. Crinkle led me here probably a month ago and I've been happily reading along in the background. I had to comment though. You seem to have beat many of us Spaghettio eaters out of the pantry. I too have an occasional weakness for them. Except I can't do the franks or meatballs. For some reason the artificial meat is just to far over the line for me. Not that the rest of it is any less shameful. But I can go one step worse than you. I eat them.....cold. Right out of the can. I don't know what possesses me.

Comment number: 000447   Posted by: Darcy on March 12, 2003 01:32 PM from IP: 171.159.128.10

I became vegetarian in 1997, but I still miss Cheesy Macaroni Hamburger Helper the most.
It was so gross, and I LOVED it - and the habit started in COLLEGE because my mom never allowed me to eat it when I was younger. Delayed childhood, perhaps.

Can you just imagine what *you* would eat if *you* were pregnant?!?

Comment number: 000450   Posted by: dayment on March 12, 2003 07:50 PM from IP: 140.142.222.97

You think that's bad... I have the same feelings, but for some reason I like them better straight from the can. That's right, I can't stand the things cooked... only raw from the can. Oh, and with franks instead of meatballs...

Mmmm... must go buy Spaghetti-O's...

Comment number: 000454   Posted by: animeguru on March 13, 2003 07:55 AM from IP: 66.208.208.162

I had a roommate in college who ate nothing but baked beans and canned tuna. For three years. Oh, and about twelve pints of beer a day (no kidding). Amazingly, she never gained weight.

Comment number: 000456   Posted by: Leo M. Pans on March 13, 2003 08:56 AM from IP: 68.7.132.228

I always suspected this of you. I never told, cause I am a gentle gentle man. I am also a doughnut vampire. That was a confession.

When I can, I drink the leftover pickle juice, but Jen would actually die if she knew that, so I need you not to tell her.

The other day, (I am going to write about this in depth cause I am still reeling from the effect) I ate this hard boiled duck egg I got from the Japanese grocery. It was hardboiled in tea and spice, and when you peeled it, the egg was a beautiful translucent black. When you bit into it (chewy rubber, very Giger), you found the yoke to be green and creamy. I was ill before I finished, but I ate the whole fucking thing. I am completely egg poisoned. When I think about it, my eyes flutter back. There are 5 more in the fridge, and I am planning on feeding them to the dogs.

More important happenings will seek you out later.
I really, really love you more than all the Presidents put together,
Johnny

Comment number: 000458   Posted by: Johnny on March 14, 2003 12:09 AM from IP: 63.208.65.158

butter and sugar sandwiches, on white bread.

and my friend brian said, when i made him read this, 'baked potatoes. on toast.'

Comment number: 000459   Posted by: beth on March 14, 2003 12:42 PM from IP: 63.115.132.3

It's always pleasant to meet people who make my peanut butter & raisin sandwiches seem mundane.

Comment number: 000464   Posted by: Anton Sherwood on March 14, 2003 07:03 PM from IP: 208.187.128.131

'Bout a month ago, our cupboard was bare. Some diced tomatoes and that mysterious can of Campbell's Barley Soup that comes with every house and is left there until you need something to throw to a food drive for homeless people who aren't as picky as you. Anyway, I had to make something to take to work and the only thing I could slap together from what we had was a peanut butter and bannana sandwich with mayonaisse. I felt like the biggest mullet-wearing, trailer-bound hick. But I ate it. Tangy!

Comment number: 000465   Posted by: Joe on March 15, 2003 01:44 PM from IP: 165.247.33.169

My mom used to make me peanut butter, banana and mayonnaise sandwiches. I almost mentioned it, too, but there were so many comments already. So instead I waited until there were more comments. Clever, no?

Comment number: 000475   Posted by: Ultracity on March 17, 2003 01:03 PM from IP: 134.39.10.59

On my 11th birthday, I unwisely decided that I could make a better peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich with warm marshmallow cream. I had never even had a peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich before; I just saw the recipe on the back of the jar. So, like the bright chid I was, I put the whole jar WITH THE LID STILL ON into the microwave for two minutes. Marchmallow cream everywhere! Oh, I tremble with fear remembering. You think napalm sticks to kids, try hot sugar and fluffy lard.

Comment number: 000485   Posted by: Anne on March 19, 2003 05:32 AM from IP: 152.10.116.214

i used to eat all the Spaghetti-O's first, saving the meatballs until the end. Then i would mush them up with a piece of white bread and eat them separately. When i was little, i used to pretend it was dog food, and that i was a dog. Thankfully, this fantasy has waned, although i still save the meatballs for last.

Comment number: 000490   Posted by: mole on March 19, 2003 08:36 AM from IP: 204.171.158.180

I used to be addicted to an item they used to sell in the school cafeteria line, called "Taco Snacks". Basically, they were deep fried burritos that had a glob of barely melted cheese at one end and glob of taco-flavored textured soy protein at the other. And I figured that somewhere in the middle was a little spritz of heroin -- just enough to keep you coming back for more the next day.

Unfortunately, when I graduated, my cravings didn't graduate with me.

I soon found out that the local K-Mart sold those delicious snacks. Now, I have always hated K-mart. I don't know why, but I do. But I found myself driving across town to visit the K-mart cafeteria for my fix. But they eventually shut down the food business.

Some time later, after college, my friend got a substitute teaching position at the same school we went to as kids. He became my dealer. I would give him the cash in the morning and he would bring home "the stuff" after school... But alas, the supply eventually dried up.

"Hi, my name is Chris. I'm a taco-snackaholic."

Comment number: 000494   Posted by: Chris on March 19, 2003 11:09 AM from IP: 4.46.137.109

I love Spaghetti-O's with franks! And I'm not ashamed to admit it!!

Comment number: 000495   Posted by: Stacey on March 19, 2003 11:41 AM from IP: 129.106.21.180

Hilarious- I laugh as loud as possible from my wretched little cube that I reside in. The deliciously creative little blogs feed my hunger for something more than a life of drabness and mundanity. Post, write, tell me more my fingers scream out as I press upon these keys-

Comment number: 000497   Posted by: eddeaux on March 19, 2003 01:33 PM from IP: 192.91.75.29

I get that exact same urge. It has to be the ones with the meatballs though. Fortunately for me, the grocery stores where I am from stopped selling the ones with the meatballs. I have yet to fulfill my urge. Nonetheless, every time I go to the store, I have to check for the Spaghetti-Os with meatballs...just in case. My friend still eats them on a regular basis with cottage cheese. Now that's bad.

Comment number: 000498   Posted by: Leslie on March 19, 2003 04:37 PM from IP: 216.187.156.106

I was 14 when I came down with mono, and spent the first 5 days throwing up all foods... except when I ate the unholy combination of chocolate milk (not the kind you add syrup to make, but the store bought thick and nasty chocolate flavored glue) and Spaghettios.

These days, I can not even look at chocolate milk, but I love me some Spaghettios.

And I feel like shit after I eat it, but it stays down.

Comment number: 000499   Posted by: Sara on March 19, 2003 08:06 PM from IP: 65.30.83.226

When I was little I loved to eat raw bacon.

45 years later, I marvel that my idiot mother GAVE IT TO ME.

sheesh.

Comment number: 000500   Posted by: Jewelz on March 19, 2003 09:04 PM from IP: 204.30.195.147

"Jesus, fuck and Liberace," BEAUTIFUL! Mine is fried Spam sandwiches with Gulden's mustard. The Spam has to be fried until crispy. What's worse is that as a child, our housekeeper would bake Spam with a little pineapple ring on top, as if we would believe it to truly be ham for crissakes!

Comment number: 000506   Posted by: P. J. on March 20, 2003 02:39 PM from IP: 12.149.100.21

I have revived my weird food of 4 slices of toasted bread, with miracle whip slathered on, then cut the bread into pieces then drench with syrup! Yum! My 11 year old wanted to have some (NO this is your mothers food, not yours!) Yes, I did say that to him. Ah well, its almost as good as "delicious" (peanut butter, syrup, corn flakes and bananas....its "delicious"). I did let the older two eat this, and oh, my, one of my daughters described it to their teachers, as one of the favorite meals...."delicious". (Well it is!)

gaileee

Comment number: 000515   Posted by: gaileee on March 21, 2003 08:03 PM from IP: 66.90.193.9

Mmm.. Mine's Beef-a-roni. Straight from the can or hot out of the microwave. My mouth waters as I type this.

Oh and everyone knows that Wendy's french fries (yeah, I said "french") are yucky unless you dip them in your chocolate Frosty.

Comment number: 000565   Posted by: Summer on March 30, 2003 05:23 AM from IP: 68.98.61.44

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