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Saved by the (Girl Scout Cookie) box l Chuck’s World


Last updated 3/13/2019 at Noon

I lost my wedding ring a couple of years ago. I can’t remember the details. I think I just noticed one day that it was gone, obviously either taken off and misplaced, or having slipped off another way.

I told my wife, who reacted as though I’d announced that our neighbor’s much-loved goldfish had died after a long and happy life. After 35 years of marriage, this isn’t that big of a deal. I got another ring.

There are other things you can lose, though. This week I was remembering a scene from “The West Wing” in which the president, played by Martin Sheen, has been suffering from the progressive effects of multiple sclerosis.

He mentions to a member of Congress that he can’t seem to find his balance. It will return, he knows, or he says he knows. It’s as though he’s misplaced it, and he just has to trust that he’ll eventually locate it again.

This is a very specific kind of loss, something that feels sudden and inexplicable (and usually is neither), and hopefully temporary. It can rattle us.

For example, three years ago I lost my appetite. It’s not as serious as losing one’s balance, but it bothered me. It was a concern, not a crisis. It wasn’t multiple sclerosis. I just got skinny.

I was never skinny, though, and I always had a good appetite, so this was new and disorienting. I live in the same world that you do, surrounded by fun things to eat and fun places to eat at. I wasn’t going to get sympathy from anyone if I lost interest in food, and I wasn’t really aware of it, anyway.

I just lost 10 pounds, and that actually felt pretty good. As did the next 10 pounds.

By the time I’d lost 44 pounds, I brought this up with my doctor, who of course had already noticed. I took a pill for a while. My mood was better. I worked on it, paid attention, gained a few pounds, lost them again, and pretty much stayed the same, really.

I wasn’t hungry, not much and not often. I just couldn’t locate my appetite. I managed, because people need to eat or else they eventually fall over and then die. I just wasn’t all that interested in food.

And now, in a burst of irony, as Lent begins, the traditional season of fasting in the Christian church, I get hungry. Really hungry.

I only mention Lent because it’s a fascinating time for me. You could strip Lent of its religious meaning completely and I’d still be interested in the idea, the concept of taking a few weeks to examine and reflect, to wonder what’s getting in my way of being a better human being.

I think about it a lot, which is why it feels ironic.

I relocated my appetite. I don’t really understand it, but I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t have a theory.

We eat to stay alive. We eat for other reasons, social reasons, psychological reasons, but that’s the gist. We consume energy because we expend energy. We have to keep the tank filled.

But, as Voltaire noted, eating would be deadly dull if it weren’t such a pleasure. Losing interest in food is a worrisome sign, then. We all need to have a little pleasure in our lives.

And while I note that it’s been a very stressful past couple of weeks, with a friend hospitalized with a serious illness, lots of trips to the hospital, much renewed familiarity with parking garages and nursing stations, that’s usually a recipe for eating less in my case.

No time, etc. Eating would be one less thing to have to deal with.

Again, I wouldn’t mention this if I hadn’t developed a theory. And if I hadn’t finally figured out that this change in my personal habits was quite possibly a direct response to the season.

I’m not talking about Lent. I’m not even talking about the imminent arrival of spring, which has its upside.

I’m talking about the phenomena currently occurring all over our great nation, as we wander through our daily lives, much of it the same. Phenomena that I suspect could be spotted from space, as an entire country is dotted with little girls and their parents, patiently waiting outside grocery stores.

That’s my theory. I was saved by Girl Scouts.

I approve of scouting. I approve of cookies. My fatherhood nostalgia is triggered, and I usually buy a box or two for my wife, who stashes them in her office for emergencies.

This year, though, I started off with a couple of boxes and then I honestly don’t remember what happened. I have a faint memory of eating an entire box of Samoas in about five minutes.

Take this as an endorsement, then. It’s been a stressful time. It’s possible I was weak, and susceptible to temptation. But I got my appetite back, I’m eating like a horse, my wife is happy, and I’m giving credit to the Girl Scouts.

Not that I mention it to them. The other day, in fact, as I left the store and ran into a couple of little ones with their boxes all lined up neatly, I smiled and shrugged, murmuring something about having had my share for the year.

Their mom nodded, understanding.

And then I bought the rest of their Samoas, but you know what? Those are really good cookies.


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