My life in cookies

THE PAIN WAS EXCRUCIATING.

I writhed and squirmed, trying to ignore it, but I couldn’t stand it any longer. I needed Ora-gel. 7-Eleven was out of stock, so I had to drive the extra distance to AM/PM. I think I would have crossed several states to alleviate this agony.

At last, my nerves were subdued if only for a little while, but on that night I realized that my passion for sweets had to end. That night, I kicked Oreo cookies.

In my 26 years on this Earth, I’ve outgrown a series of cookies. Sometimes it was the occasional toothache that jarred me, but more often, it was the natural and unfortunate consequence of getting older.

I don’t remember my first cookie. I do remember Cookie Monster, that anomalous creature from Sesame Street I once admired; that big blue mass of neurotic impulse who gummed entire trays of chocolate chip morsels in a frantic flurry of crumbs and lip-smacking tremors. I see now why he doesn’t have teeth and why he might need some Ritalin. Just the same, I used to ask myself if Cookie Monster didn’t have any discretion, then why should I?

My first favorite was Mother’s Cookies. Does anyone remember those? They were crunchy animal shapes covered in frosting with savory sprinkles on the outside.

If I’d been allowed, I would have eaten bagfuls at a time. Instead, I was only offered a few handfuls after meals. Not nearly enough to satisfy Cookie Monster.

I also craved Nabisco brand animal crackers. Those are still around. They come in little red, circus-motif boxes housing graham flavored replicas of tigers, bears, giraffes and more.

Then there were Fig Newtons, Chips Ahoy and Oreos which I loved pretty much equally but for different reasons — Oreos because they were just as much fun to twist as they were to eat.

My new favorite is Otis Spunkemeyer chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been eating them since high school and I’ve never looked back.

I eat a lot fewer cookies now, however. I think it started when I got my first job. Money was no object. If I wanted to, I could indulge myself to my heart’s content. But sadly, when your craving is just a short trip to the corner store away, it becomes somehow less appealing.

For another thing, cookies just aren’t as appetizing anymore. My heart’s content isn’t what it used to be and cookies really are not that filling. These days, I’d rather murder a juicy steak than polish off a package of cookies. Most of them are too rich anyways.

As much as I hate to admit it, I won’t rule out that maturity may have stifled my cookie craving. I still feel a bit awkward buying animal crackers. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the taste, but the shapes don’t excite me like they did when I was a kid and the clerk at 7-Eleven always looks at me as if to ask “What are you, like 5?”

Who knows? Maybe I even feel a tinge of pity for the little ape whose head I’m about to bite off.

Over time, I put off a lot of childish things. At some point, I stopped dipping my Oreos in milk. I never noticed until recently, but to me, a liquified cookie is just too mushy to enjoy.

I don’t even twist them apart anymore. I figure whether you eat the cream and the chocolate separately, they’re both going to the same place.

Why not just get on with it?

In any case, have you ever seen an Oreo cookie commercial with just grownups?

Perhaps it’s unfortunate that the older we get, the less turned on we are by sweets. But I think there’s a part of us that still worships the Oreo, or the Fig Newton, or whatever it might be.

Freud might say it’s a suppressed desire that we all carry around. One we have to keep under wraps, one we sometimes forget to acknowledge, but one that slips out every now and then.

It comes out every time you see a woman eating more than a handful of Fig Newtons.

It comes out every time a grown man looks over his shoulder to make sure no one sees him dipping his Oreo cookie in milk.

It comes out every time I walk around with dabs of chocolate on my face, waiting to see if anyone notices.

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