Denise Day Spencer

December 8, 2006

The difficulty with donuts

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 3:36 am

My last essay was perceived by Michael as one that made fun of him. So it’s payback time. This time I’m going to make well-deserved fun of myself.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about people in my nearly 50 years, it’s that different folks have different mindsets about things. For instance, there’s the question of now vs. later. Some people will buy it now even if they have to put it (whatever “it” is) on credit. Others prefer to save up so they can get it later and remain debt-free. Some will get it now on an impulse. Others want to make sure they really need it, or perhaps see if they can find it cheaper elsewhere.

This mentality applies to lesser things, too, like food. In our family this food difference in personalities somehow seems more pronounced when we’re traveling. Michael snacks while we’re on the road, and he generously offers me food. Often he doesn’t ask me if I want something. He’ll just go into the convenience store, return to the car and toss a little oatmeal pie or some such thing into my lap. Then he doesn’t understand if I want to keep it for later. But it’s the struggle within myself that I share with you today.

Last Saturday we went to a Christmas festival at historic Washington, Kentucky. We picked Clay up in Lexington and met Noel and Ryan there. We had never been to this event before, so we were unsure of what to expect. We were going to be arriving at noon, and we had no set meal plan. I had eaten an extra-hearty (for me) breakfast because I didn’t know for sure when we’d eat again. But I was careful to not eat too much that morning in case everybody did want lunch before we hit the festival. (Another thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to be flexible.)

Now keep in mind that it was the start of Christmas season. I’ve worked hard these past months to exercise and get in shape. I didn’t want to blow it. I planned to fully enjoy the day and yet stay somewhat disciplined.

Well, we pulled into Lexington and Michael made a beeline for the Krispy Kreme donut shop. He had eaten no breakfast. We were picking up our college freshman son at 10:30 a.m., so I knew he wouldn’t have had breakfast, either. Michael sent me in to get just a few donuts of us to enjoy. Now there’s nothing quite like a Krispy Kreme donut warm, soft and right off the assembly line. We’re talking the very definition of “melt in your mouth.”

But I knew how this day was likely to go. I had already had breakfast. Now Michael was going to want me to eat at least one donut. Once we got to Washington everyone would probably be clamoring for a fast-food lunch and I would eat again. Then at the event there would be street vendors and festival food. Afterward we would go out for supper. Then we were sure to have a little snack on the way home or after we returned home. I foresaw myself plunging headlong into the holiday season by going totally out of control–and it was only December 2.

So I sat there in the car with my little box of donuts in my lap. I had gotten two for Michael, two for Clay and one for me. Michael ate both of his immediately, knowing that every passing moment lessened the value of a just-off-the-line Krispy Kreme. “You’d better eat yours while it’s fresh,” he cautioned.

Now please understand, I had two considerations. For one, I didn’t want to ingest too many extra calories. But for another, I wanted to save something special. It’s not often at all that I get a Krispy Kreme donut. It made me recall the Sunday breakfasts of my childhood. Mom fixed us a good breakfast every morning before she got ready for work. Oatmeal one day, eggs and bacon another day, etc. But Sundays were extra special. On Sundays we had warm, cinnamon-flavored coffeecake, or hot, buttery blueberry muffins. But these days I’m the only one who eats breakfast on Sundays. I’m not going to make a dozen blueberry muffins just for me, and I don’t have time even if I wanted to. I knew a re-warmed donut wouldn’t be as good as a fresh one, but it could be popped into the microwave and would still be mighty special for me on a Sunday morning. Besides, didn’t a Krispy Kreme warrant a cup of steaming java? All I had in the car was a travel mug of lukewarm tea. So I decided. I would wait.

Michael could hardly believe it. We picked Clay up, and he promptly ate his. “Oh, you’ll want to eat yours now, while it’s so good and warm and fresh!” Michael urged me. I resisted, my resolve firm. I would stay in control. I would think of how good it would be the next morning, my coffee laced with cream. So Michael gave up and we drove on.

As we got closer to Washington, I got to thinking about how warmed-over donuts are never even close to the quality of those hot off the line. I began to reconsider. As I wrote in my last essay, Michael’s always saying, “Life’s too short to not…” Maybe I should eat that donut now, I thought. It will never be the same again. Yet even as I mentally heard those words, I realized it was already not the same. I had lost the moment. To eat it now would be the worst of both worlds. It would no longer be fresh, soft, warm and mouth-watering as it would have been 30 minutes before. Nor would I be able to enjoy it with that cup of coffee I could have if I waited ’til morning. Someone once said, “To not decide is to decide.” That was me.

The whole thing reminded me of one of my all-time favorite “Peanuts” cartoons. Two characters, I think it was Lucy and Linus (somebody correct me if I’m wrong) are each holding a candy bar. Lucy says she can’t wait to eat all of hers. Linus shares his plan to eat half now and save the other half for the next day. Lucy asks, “But what if the world ends today and you never get to eat the other half?” The last frame shows both children chewing frantically, their little cheeks stuffed like chocoholic hamsters.

The next morning I ceremoniously placed the Krispy Kreme box in the microwave. When I opened it I discovered that Clay had only eaten one donut, leaving two for me. Hey! I could eat one and still have another for breakfast the next day. I chewed slowly, savoring every bite. I alternated pieces of donut with sips of piping hot coffee. No, it wasn’t what it would have been right off the line, but it was pretty darn good. Yet I was still conflicted. A small voice in my brain asked me if I had done the right thing by waiting.

I started to close the box and set the second donut aside for the morrow. But…but…what if the world ended that day and there was no tomorrow? So I gobbled up that second donut and licked every speck of sugar off my sticky little fingers. It was what any reasonable person would do, right?

And if you still think I’m a reasonable person, you need to go back and read this again.

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1 Comment »

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