The contraband is en route at the speed of 42 MPH. At this moment, four different kinds of chocolate and a small army of gummi bears are on their way in a Kia Soul. For now, I may store it only. Then I must lie in wait.

As I am an idiot, I gave up sugar for Lent. All of it. Not merely in the form of candy or cheesecake or gas station cappuccinos (which, everyone has assured me, is cheating)– I mean alllllllllll of it. The Jell-O and the root beer and the pastel girl-drinks at the bar. Now I am left with naught but semi-crushed packages of peanut butter crackers during the seventh-inning stretch.

This is vital exercise of the say-no muscle. The fact that the Whoppers Robin Eggs will appear directly on my doorstep by the time my on-demand Baby Yoda viewing is done is evidence of this.

The point of give-ups for Lent is to reflect upon and attempt to rectify a spiritual struggle. I have a spiritual struggle with mass consumption of Fawn’s dark chocolate covered Oreos. Far too often, life carries quietly on with carrot sticks and low-fat Wheat Thins for weeks, and then I’m in the Kroger’s parking lot, scooping the icing parts of a tire-sized chocolate chip cookie with my bare hands. It’s a problem and it’s a pathetic one.

But at least I’m not alone; recently the Atlanta Braves removed a soft-serve ice cream machine from their clubhouse, and the players, most understandably, screamed about it, so the staff put it back in–but only after theyΒ  met a challenge to take a four-game series from the Mets.

More broadly, this is what is known as a “struggle of sensuality,” or maintaining moderation and right decorum regarding behavior towards those one might find highly attractive. I didn’t think this was a problem as I happily regarded my one (1) also happy husband, and then a friend metaphorically tapped on the driver’s side window, there in the Kroger parking lot, and pointed out that hey, taste is a sense too, you know?

This is why I cannot so much as walk past the kettlecorn booth at the ball park; it’s one thing if I treat myself to a dainty 3-ounce serving of sugar-on-popcorn, but kettlecorn at the ball park is available in a single size, and it’s One Entire Aircraft Carrier. Visitors to Great American Ball Park are dragging around little sugar bombs in bags the size of Greenland, and then the CDC launches multi-billion dollar studies probing the deep dark mystery of why two in five American adults are obese.

But it’s not the fault of kettlecorn, which is kind and good. It’s because I can’t set down the industrial dumpster-sized trash liner full of Cracker Jacks when it’s time to set down the industrial dumpster-sized trash liner full of Cracker Jacks.

I’ve tried a sugar ban before, in Lents past, marathoning the whole distance from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, pushing past the “Sunday rest” from penance. Did Jesus come in from the desert once a week for a cold one and a night at the Super 8? He did not. Therefore, six straight weeks without Twix. But this had the rather un-Easterlike effect of making everyone around me miserable.

Now I’ve tried again, this time taking advantage of the Sunday rest. The change did indeed alter the experience: Instead of stowing the Nestle’s Crunch bunny in my good purse to tear into the second Easter Mass ends, I instead sit with a package of Albanese Gummi Worms on my lap late on Saturday nights, dutifully waiting for the clock to strike twelve. And also making everyone around me miserable.

The fast hasn’t done this– I have, with my stubborn refusal to put better things in my body and stop myself from eating industrial dumpster-sized trash liner full of Cracker Jacks. But I’m sure you’ll understand if I put off any visits to any baseball games until after Easter. The Mets, no doubt, will support me in this.


19 Responses

  1. David

    I gave up ice cream for Lent.

    My wife gave up chocolate for Lent. ( I could not do that and survive!!!)

    Needless to say, we are both kind of crabby. πŸ™‚
    (She made me do it!!!) πŸ™‚

    I should have given up Scotch Whiskey for Lent….I never drink Scotch Whiskey.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Ha! The couple who is miserable together is the best kind of accountability. Enjoy the Graeter’s on Sunday.

  2. TJ

    I give up broccoli, beer, and bimbos for lent. Some are harder than others to give up.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      A man who sacrifices his broccoli is a man I understand. Fr. Mike Schmitz says his siter once gave up watermelon for Lent… in Minnesota… in the middle of February.

  3. Mark Moore

    Hang in there, MBE. Sunday’s coming!! πŸ˜€

    It was evening snacking and my occasional beer for me. I didn’t “turn that off” on Sundays either. I do know my dear wife is making cheesecake for Sunday. I’m looking forward to that.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Cheesecake is Josh the Pilot’s favorite! I greatly admire the whole-47 stretch πŸ™‚ Happy Easter.

  4. LDS

    Catholicism needs a new ad agency. You guys aren’t it. The thought of suffering through the upcoming Reds season, without a sugar fix, even for just a short time, sounds like a huge sacrifice.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Well, I certainly agree with you that our PR has sucked for at least the past five decades. But I was the one who chose the sacrifice, and given what other people deal with, it’s a tiny, tiny thing. Everyone picks their own (some give up social media, for example, or music in the car while driving to work) and I probably shouldn’t haven’t gone whole hog and just given up candy or something. But the point isn’t to be miserable. The point is to discipline the unhealthy part of us that is constantly going “gimmie!!” Fasts are actually highly beneficial. I’m just a giant baby about not getting what I want, exactly when I want it. Papa Benedict once said, “You weren’t made to be comfortable. You were made to be great.” Sometimes comfortable is OK if it’s part of sane and proper health care. But overall it’s better to nurture the inner Mandalorian, because a society full of people who can control themselves is much healthier than one stuffed with “gimmie!!”s πŸ™‚

      • LDS

        I agree MBE, but sometimes it feels like that ship has sailed.

      • David

        The world is sometimes a very dark place.

        Faith renews and nourishes us in ways nothing else can. Man does not live by bread alone.

    • greenmtred

      Eye-catching title, Mary Beth. LDS: why do you choose to suffer so? Following the Reds is not mandatory.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Well, thanks on the title. I’ll admit it’s better than the original, which was “Everybody Listen While I Whine About Not Having Immediate Access to Gummi Worms.”

      • LDS

        @greenmtred, as old Hank said, “it’s a family tradition”

      • greenmtred

        I know what you mean, LDS. I have suffered (mildly, it’s true) for the same reason.

  5. AMDG

    I used to do the whole fasting from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. But then i learned that the the point of the “Sunday rest” wasn’t about taking a break from Lenten fasting or being soft.

    Rather, it’s a reminder that for Christians, Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. And every Sunday is a mini-Easter Sunday. And that is a day for celebration – not fasting.

    Not to mention, Sunday is a solemnity, which is traditionally not a fasting day.

    Also, you referenced Jesus fasting in the desert. That was a 40 day fast. Lent is also 40 days. But if you do the math from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, it is only 40 days if you don’t count the Sunday’s.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Yes, exactly! It was Fr. Mike, I think, who educated me on the “Sunday rest” and that God WANTS us to relax Lenten penance for the day. (And those much-needed mid-week solemnities, St. Joseph’s feast day and the Annunciation!) Do not fast while the bridegroom is present πŸ™‚

      • AMDG

        Of course, if you want to add a little more fasting, you could join us Latin mass going Catholics who get to enjoy a little pre-Lenten fasting with Septuagesima πŸ™‚