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It was the dead of night. My fiancé was asleep beside me, his expression sweet, his face gentle and unguarded, like a child’s. I pushed the covers back and slid out of bed, overcome by a familiar dark desire. I had learned to hide from it, through all these years, but it always seemed to find me eventually. It was ceaseless and ferocious, with claws like a tiger that clutched my mind, and coils like a snake that wrapped me up and moved me where it willed. And it whispered to me in a voice slick and warm as honey, “Just this once…Just one more time…” But it was never just once. And it was never one more time.
I walked obediently through the living room. The table was strangely ominous in the faint moonlight—its surface washed empty; a huge plane of nothingness that might swallow someone whole.
And then I was in the kitchen. My fingers worked of their own accord, prying open the box. The deceptively clean-looking white cardboard takeout box. The one full of cookies. The one that my fiancé had brought home for me. The one that I told myself I wouldn’t eat. Or wouldn’t eat right away. Or wouldn’t eat all of right away.
It was forbidden. It was absolutely off-limits. This act, the one I was about to indulge in, had serious consequences. Ugliness. Failure. More ugliness. And then, of course, more failure. There were words for this. “Overeating,” “binging” even something about eating at night, specifically. It was self-destructive.
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I was self-destructing. And it was delicious. In the Qur’an, a lot of the descriptions of heaven involve food. I totally understand. In heaven, I’d be eating a bunch of pastrami sandwiches on rye, with coleslaw and Russian dressing. I’d be drinking chocolate shakes with my bacon and broccoli and pepperoni and spinach white pizza. I’d have mozzarella sticks on the side every time. And cookies. Cookies and milk are a classic, and for good reason. They are perfect together. It kinda doesn’t even matter what kind of cookie. I tried peanut butter. Then chocolate chip. Then oatmeal raisin. Then some of a cupcake that had somehow wandered into the mix. All amazing. I was drinking the milk straight from the carton, and breaking off pieces of cookies and combining them in creative ways, and really enjoying the whole experience, when the rational world finally broke through. If the rational world had a voice in that moment, it would’ve been big and booming, and it would’ve said this exactly, “YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED IN SEVENTY-SIX DAYS.”
That’s what Bed Bath & Beyond said on the registry portion of their website when I signed in to add a chicken thermometer. And it’s true. Bed Bath & Beyond never lies about these things. I feel strange not using any commas for the name, but the website was pretty clear about that, too.
I’m getting married in seventy-six days, and my arms are chubby. This is a fact. My arms are chubby, but my breasts are not. This is one of the particular, intriguing quirks of my body. This is part of what makes me who I am. And apparently, who I am is a flat-chested woman with chubby arms. Who happens to be full of spirit. And cookies. I will be wearing a gown that emphasizes these things. The spirit, the arms, the lack of chest, and possibly even the cookies. And so I am a bad bride. If I was stronger, and I had willpower, like so many other women, I would be a better bride. I would be immortalized in the photographs of my wedding as eternally slim-armed and lovely. The great, great grandchildren who never got to meet me would look at the faded photos projected out of the mouth panels of their personal i-companion robots, and think, “She must’ve been renown in the family for her beauty,” even though there had been no such rumors spread word of mouth. This is what I should want for myself. For my legacy.
You know, it used to be different. When I was a kid, sneaking into the kitchen for cookies wasn’t a violation of some sacred code of femininity— it was a snack. Those were simpler days. I thought another American Girl Doll was a great investment, and I thought their faces looked significantly different from one another because some had blue eyes and some had brown eyes. I ate as much pasta as I could, because I was having a competition with my brothers concerning who could eat the most pasta, and because pasta was the best food ever. It never once occurred to me that someday I might want to grow up and get married and because of these things, I’d never be able to eat pasta again.
Standing in the eerie, moonlit kitchen in the middle of the night, I wondered how it’d all come to this. And then I ate another cookie, and I dedicated it to my upcoming wedding. I raised the jug of milk and toasted my own wedding. I’m not unhealthy. I move my legs enthusiastically on the elliptical at the gym. I’m not unpretty. I have striking Jewish features that everyone can agree are the gold standard of beauty (for really nerdy Jewish guys and my fiancé). I’m not a binge-eater. I’m a woman who loves cookies. And if continuing to eat them in the last seventy-six days before my wedding somehow causes me to look less bridal in my gown, then it was probably worth it anyway. Because if looking more bridal means depriving myself of things I enjoy, then looking bridal is not for me. Maybe I should make some pasta too, while I’m at it.
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Un-roast: Today I love how good I am at combining random foods and making something delicious. Like the broccoli, spicy sausage, soy sauce, feta cheese, and garlic stirfry from last night. So good. And also, I am trying really hard to like my arms. They’re soft. Which feels nice. That’s as far along as I am now, but I’ll get there.
P.S. Check out my article about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in Huffpo. I kinda like this piece.
P.P.S. A passionate response to my piece on feminism from yet another person who now hates me a lot. She begins by saying, “This post, on a blog I’ve never read…” Ouch. I guess she didn’t read it in The Huffington Post! One day, person who hates me….One day Cake will be famous too…. Anyway, her piece is actually very good, despite being based entirely on how stupid I am.