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Appetite...May 2015


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Host: After a short career in corporate real estate and a long career in radio, Elmhurst native Kelly Duff finally figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up: filthy fucking rich. But she settled for being a writer. So with a website and a bazillion romance novel ideas, she set forth into the world blogging about stupid people and the trials and tribulations of writing...but mostly stupid people.

...because duh, Doritos...

...because duh, Doritos...

Appetite by Kelly Duff

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Spring is here and I totally dig the longer days but I’m pissed. I just realized how much weight I would have lost by now if I’d stuck with that stupid new year’s diet. 

I feel like there were so many ways to succeed, there’s, like, a lot of crazy diets out there. Emphasis on CRAZY.

Seriously, you can count carbs, fat grams, points, calories, glycemic intake, then I think you divide by half your age or maybe your height, I don’t know, math isn’t my thing. Then there are all these “location based” diets like the mediterranean and south beach, yay fun. Or if your goal is to look like, I don’t know, a caveman, there’s the paleo diet where you only eat food that man ate when he first roamed the earth like rocks and dinosaurs. Even better there’s the werewolf diet, you really only have to follow it during a full or new moon I think; or maybe the GM diet is the way to go, you buy a Buick, then eat only fruit on day one; veggies on day two, and by day three you swallow a whole bottle of Tylenol due to the awesome headache you have; or, there’s my favorite one, by far, the cotton ball diet, where you ingest…cotton balls.

Had I done any of that? Well, I’m sure I’d be rolling up here onstage with a red wagon filled with fat just like Oprah fuckin’ Winfrey!

I’m GREAT at starting diets, I’m just better at quitting them.

I usually start out strong. Track every single thing I eat, make a ton of grilled chicken in advance, buy all the produce I need, then, by week two I get lazy, and most likely eat an entire box of lemonheads or say fuck it, let’s just go out to eat. So, well now I’ve completely blown my diet, I may as well start over--next Monday--because god forbid I start a diet midweek. Not when a do-over affords me a few days eating like a prisoner on death row getting her last meal over and over. 

Don’t be fooled, I am no epicurean, no gourmet chef. I don’t even know if we get the Food Network on our cable package. Set me up with a frozen pizza and a bottle of wine and it’s all good. I have simple tastes.

This, I’m sure, is all thanks to my childhood. Growing up, my mom was agoraphobic which is fear of leaving the house but she wasn’t like a total agoraphobe, she WOULD actually leave the house. My grandparents lived five houses away, so we were over there all the time. But that’s really as far as she would go…in the car. Oh yeah, I should mention, my mom would actually get in her car, turn it on, floor it for four houses then whip up grandma’s driveway like the house was on fire…every single time. And then when it was time to go home, you know down the street, which was walkable, it was back in the car, floor it, get out and go inside. I don’t necessarily think this had anything to do with her condition, I think she was either really lazy, or she didn’t want to have to stop to talk to the neighbors. She was very particular about her hair being just right, her pants perfectly pleated (it was the 70’s). Anyway, driving to and from grandma’s? Eventually we all did it. It seemed…normal.

So it never seemed odd to me at 7 years old, that I was spending a lot of time in front of the TV with a big bag of Doritos in my lap. My mom knew, give the kid food, she’ll sit AND stay. I wasn’t one of those kids that felt the need to go out and play or go to the park…because duh, Doritos. I was pretty easy to please back then. Even my mom’s daily ritual of over-cooking dinner didn’t bother me. I just assumed page one of Betty Crocker’s cookbook from 1975 instructed all homemakers to “burn off any risk of salmonella”. And thanks to Betty, we were subjected to week after week of charred burgers, charred chicken, charred everything.

Then the 80’s happened. Dude, that decade, man that was the shit. I know y’all look back now and think what the…with the hair and the synthesizers and the Chernobyl and all…but I LOVED the 80’s. I didn’t even have MTV but I made sure I was THE most educated motherfucker on the block when it came to the music, the movies and the clothes. I was convinced someday I would become a Duran Duran back up singer and marry Simon LeBon. I knew all the famous quotes of every popular movie that came out and later decided I would divorce Simon and marry “vampire” Keifer Sutherland in Lost Boys. I needed to wear parachute pants, leg warmers and neon bracelets.

But what’s the point of imitating all my favorite 80’s pop stars if I’m not allowed to leave the house? You see, my mom’s condition became my condition by association. I was on a really short leash. I couldn’t even ride my bike past the end of the block. And by now, all my grade school girlfriends started having sleepovers. My mom WOULD allow me to go, I just wasn’t allowed to sleep over. By 10pm she had my dad picking my ass up to go home. The fights I’d have with my mom were epic but no amount of screaming or crying would change this and I was pretty goddamn sure I was missing out on something by not being allowed to sleepover. Some rite of passage I kept seeing in all my favorite 80’s movies. I was sure of it. I felt like the little mermaid, dissatisfied with life in the sea, desperate to go on land. I was a female welder and all I wanted to do was dance…or in this case, just wake up somewhere other than in my own house.

It took until 8th grade before I convinced my mom to let me stay at a girl’s house overnight. I flipped out when she finally said yes. 10pm came and went and there I was with my sleeping bag ready for anything. The thing I remember most about that night wasn’t just playing light as a feather stiff as a board or talking about boys all night or impressing all my girlfriends by telling that that although three of Duran Duran’s members last names were Taylor, none of them were related. To this day, what stayed with me…what disturbed me…was breakfast.

When my friend’s mom made pancakes for us girls the next morning, I kept thinking “wait, they only have strawberry syrup? What’s with that? I mean who likes that on their pancakes?

Alright, when is dad coming to get me so I can go back home to Aunt Jemina? 

Nothing life altering happened. It was a bit of a let down in a way. In the end, I just wanted to go home. This would be a constant in my life – always looking for new experiences, wanting to try new things and finding myself returning to my comfort zone.

My husband and I have been together eighteen years. In our 20’s and 30’s we lived like rock stars, living in Lincoln Square with money to burn, constantly going out to all the cool concerts, all the hot restaurants, we’ve traveled the country and made our pilgrimage to Italy and France, buying shit we wanted rather than needed, doing all the stuff the cool kids do. Our love has expanded along with our waistlines. Now we’re in our 40’s, we have a house in the burbs, we still go out and travel but not as much as we used to. We’ve got our routines. And despite a few cooking classes and a cabinet filled with cookbooks, we always turn to the same options, chicken, pizza, occasionally Italian, more pizza. Lately, the 14 year old in me has started to feel restless, wondering what we’re missing out on.

So I was totally ready for an eclectic, authentic culinary experience when we booked our trip to Thailand. 

Last November, we walked the streets of Bangkok and it was a sweltering 80 degrees. We came across the location they used to film the Hangover 2 called Soi Cowboy. If you haven’t seen the movie, Soi Cowboy is a famous street in Bangkok—it’s about half the length of a Chicago city block--and it’s all go-go bars. It’s known to be a crazy place for some triple X entertainment—but when we go, it’s the middle of the afternoon, so it’s low-key and as I mentioned, it’s hot out. We’re in Soi Cowboy for about 30 seconds when my senses are assaulted by this—this smell. It was one of those smells that literally almost knocks you on your ass. I turn to see a street vendor dishing out what looks like an extra in the movie Aliens. Dozens of tiny face huggers on a plate. I collect myself, turn away and something sizzles and smokes and my husband and I both gag. Okay, I once tried oysters and those things tasted like the bottom of my dad’s boat, there was no way in hell I was gonna eat something that looked like it was fresh off an episode of River Monsters.  So much for my dream of becoming the next female Anthony Bourdain.

And what did I expect really? That I was going to try something completely foreign and be a changed person? That didn’t work out so well for the 14 year old me and all the world had to give up at the time was strawberry syrup. 

It would be easy to say well, stop trying to find happiness in food – uh huh.

You know, weight watchers even has this adorable phrase and I know this having joined and rejoined a dozen times: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

Really? Because a Ruth’s Chris steak covered in butter FEELS goddamn delicious in my mouth. 

People who talk about food, especially when they’re eating, these are my people.

Food has always been the thing that has brought my family together whether it was my mom burning the shit out of the mostacciolli or the hubby and I making a pizza…again, for the third time this week. I don’t have the patience to divide my food into equal portions for the week or try to figure out if there are one too many croutons on my salad and I’ve blown my daily carb intake.

Life is too short. As Warren Zevon said, enjoy every sandwich. And I like me a good sandwich!

So, I guess the only option is, does anyone know where I can get myself a good tapeworm?

Kelly DuffComment