Thursday, January 20, 2005

Matt Versus New Year's Resolution Versus Potato Chips Versus Matt


Sometime this summer, I got hooked on potato chips. I think it was the ups and downs of an ultimately rewarding but frequently ulcerrific baseball season. I eat all kinds of garbage, but it had been years since I craved potato chips with any regularity. Tortilla chips? Absolutely. Fritos? Sure, once in a while. Potato chips? Practically never, until this summer.

See, I know potato chips are gratuitously bad for me. Something about the crunch and the salt, though, nursed me through that peckish corridor between the end of the Sox game on the radio and my eventual, nightly cotton-mouthed oblivion. I tried to justify it by eating the baked Lays chips (less fatty than what I really wanted to munch), but I quickly graduated to Cape Cod's Sea Salt and Vinegar. Cholesterolicious.

As the elation of late October to mid-November gradually waned, however, I found myself incapable of forgoing what had become a quasi-ritualistic snack. When, one especially frigid and soggy night in December, I drove out to Store 24 at a quarter past midnight for a bag of chips, I knew I had a problem.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. To the extent that I've previously undertaken them, they've been either deliberately vague or simply impossible. Deliberately vague: "get more serious about my academic work." Right, I'll check that daily with the Seriousometer that no home can do without. Simply impossible: "charming Jennifer Connelly into dropping the restraining order and marrying me." This year, however, I have a goal that is modest, specific and attainable. Get off the chips.

I've held to this pledge admirably, dare I say heroically, so far. The refusal of potato chips has left me with a much clearer conscience in pursuing the thirty-seven other horribly unhealthy things I regularly ingest. I could have doughnuts for breakfast, a buffalo chicken sub for lunch, pizza for dinner, and wash it down with a tall, smooth glass of bacon grease (shaken, not stirred) and still feel like I'd eaten healthy, so long as I didn't trespass the forbidden cellophane. The drink, by the way, is called a Clemens.

The first real challenge to my resolve came today. Today I've got a sore throat. Where I grew up, there were three accepted ways of treating a sore throat, short of actually seeing a doctor. Treatment the first: hot tea. Treatment the second: butterscotch hard candy. Treatment the third: anything salty. The last one, as you might imagine, is proving a severe temptation.

The place where I buy fruit juice also just happens to be the place where I was wont to indulge my sordid spud habit. The sidewalks are crunchy with snow and ice this morning, and (in some places) salted for traction. I'm clomping to the convenience store with crunch crunch crunch in my ears and the crystalline glisten of salt in my eyes. I pause for a long time outside the door, mustering my feeble will power against the barking 0f my tongue and the shrugging of my arteries.

I make it back out, with my resolution intact. Barely. The sore throat's settling in, though, and I'm going to need more juice...


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