Write On!

Sugar Free Society

In Responses, Uncategorized on December 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

by Jen Gregory

Liz “Candy” Thomas drove down the rugged Canadian highway towards the US border. She would make the drop/pick-up on the side of the road next to nettles and vines, pretending to be a stranded driver. It was by far the most dangerous part of her addiction. She never knew who was bringing her “stuff” to her and honestly, as her cravings increased, she didn’t care.

Her blonde hair was shiny and bouncy, her lips forever glossed and she had a natural rosy glow to her cheeks. She was slim and attractive with brilliant green eyes that photographed well. As she handled the mini van around the curves and admired the somber grey sky she sang along to her music, tapping short, neat nails against the steering sheel, her large diamond ring sliding side to side on her thin finger.

The drive, the danger of it was part of her addiction too. She was the good girl. Nobody suspected a thing. She was healthy looking, happy, three kids and a mini van. She was room mother for goodness sakes! No one suspected a thing and that maybe was the second most delicious part about her dual life. The first, most delicious part was the sugar. Her obsession started maybe twenty years ago as her great grandmother told stories of Coca Cola bottled with real cane sugar and white powder confection floating through the air as she baked, the way you could taste it’s sweetness even as you inhaled and it hit the back of your tongue.

Liz had started to bake with all types of “legal” sugars, brown rice, Splenda, guava nectar, honey, you name it. She formulated a heavy blog following and developed three number one cook books based on her research. All of it to try and replicate a life she had never known, a world where cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup flowed abundant. The inside of her upper lip would tingle as her grandmother would tell about how they would eat frozen grapes dipped in the stuff. As Liz gained success with her “sugar-free” sweets she gained the nickname “Candy” and it stuck. She liked it.

You can’t be called “Candy”, fix a life around the absence of sugar and not wonder though. She felt it part of her mission, her agenda in life to taste the stuff and prove to the world that what she created was just as good as the old stuff. So in a “professional” effort she crossed over to the United States border near Oregon. There were bootleggers there. Rumor had it that deep down south there were sugar cane fields and corn fields spread out. There were still legal uses for sugar. Even with obesity almost gone, there were fat, diabetic people who still needed glucose. So sugar cane growth sprung up down south like medical marijuana did in California so many years ago. You needed permits and approval but it was still growing and falling into the wrong hands.

The corn industry had suffered worse. Corn had been eliminated almost entirely. Too sweet a vegetable anyhow, they said. The real reason was that if you grew corn, how would you stop folks from making corn syrup? It was just too sweet, too dangerous to the nation’s health to allow it.

Anyways, that first trip Candy met with a woman named Beth. Beth was plump and joyful, big thick lips that shined with lipgloss which Beth admitted was sweetened with a little cane syrup for the fun of it. Beth met Candy at some innocuous diner and they hopped in the car. Beth took Candy to a place she had never dreamed of. When they drove up it was just a regular office building, the store front said, “Natural Sweeteners.” Beth giggled as she walked Candy through the brown rice syrup and agave nectars and said, “There is nothing more natural than cane sugar, I promise you,” as she unlocked a door down the hall and in the back.

The room was bare, stark. It had a few orange plastic chairs and one plastic folding table in the middle. All the walls had cupboards and in these cupboards Beth revealed a load of different cane sugars and a small vial of high fructose corn syrup that’s golden coloring was like melted butter.

Beth pulled out a chair and started setting out a napkin and a small white tray and laid it all out for Candy. A small piece of what Candy was sure was milk chocolate, a small chunk of some kind of cookie, two small lumps of glorious shining white powder and a little dob of the high fructose corn syrup. She explained that Candy would eat these in a certain order and that upon picking her “poison” Beth would supply her with a said amount for a said price, that would be negotiated later. They talked up terms such as, saccarify, honeyed, glaze and sugar coat. Candy left there knowing of an underground world she was more than ready to be a part of. The sugar did what it did to everyone dumb enough to try it, it gave Candy her first sugar high and that’s a high one can’t come down from without serious, professional help.

The rest was history. Liz “Candy” Thomas had become not only an addict in that room but a mule. Sugar ruled her life and she was determined to share this bliss with those that she loved, no matter the cost. Her little Canadian town had just two rules regarding sugar; 1. don’t eat it and 2. don’t buy it. As Candy walked out of that natural sweetner store her blood surged through her veins, her lips rubbed together, she never wanted to forget that taste and was hell bent to figure out how to incorporate it into her life.

So she picked up mass quantities and delivered baked goods with sugar inside as return. She went from being a slightly controversial domestic diva to a highly illegal talent. She was the Amy Winehouse of domestic celebrity. She gained about five pounds but no more. It was her little girl that gave her away. Once Franscesca got a taste of mommy’s cookies she would eat no other. Frannie was the one putting on the pounds and although Liz tried to cull the sugar, it was what it was. Her husband confronted her after Frannie had been found to have a cavity at the dentist. With Candy’s income he wasn’t about to leave though. He just raved about her cooking and enrolled Frannie in three sports that year. Their obedient little man, Louis, he had a dark eye and stayed away from his mom’s “cooking” he chopped up veggies and dipped it in hummus like a good little boy should. Their youngest, Sophie, was only two and Candy kept her away from the goodies she cooked so far.

These little drives where hers alone. Her husband thought she was at work, she loaded up her itunes with songs about sugar, Tori Amos, Lenny Kravitz, Don Philip, Drugstore, Archies and her favorite song which was now playing, “Oh Honey, Honey, Sugar, Sugar.” She was bopping and singing and thinking about her first taste of the stuff, that powerful surge of goodness that flowed through her veins each and every time she took a bite. She pulled over to the rendezvous spot and waited.

One hour later her rendezvous showed up. She should have run when he said, “You cook with the sugar, eh?” The “eh” should have been the give away! She loaded her car and unloaded the mass quantity of baked goods and got into her driver seat only to look back and see the gun. It was a Mountie. He came up to the window and said, “Mrs. Thomas, please step out of the car.” Liz, grabbed her bag and dejectedly submitted to the arresting process. She was read her rights and was allowed to call her husband from her phone.

Her family, her career, everything ruined. People were always breaking these kind of laws, but not celebrity chefs who built their business on the pretense of not needing real sugar. Nope, she would get the book thrown at her and she knew it. She was placed in prison, her husband provided bail and found a reluctant attorney to cover the case. She would need a good detox before she could stand trial and after three months of rehab she would be allowed family visits. At night on her little cot she wondered how her children were doing, she missed them so much, she wondered if it was all worth it but in her dreams her upper lip still tingled, she still heard grannies voice, could feel the cold glass rim of Coca Cola it’s sweet brown syrupy goodness flowing into her throat bubbly and wonderful. She woke up choking those nights, gagging on her deepest desire.

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  1. Loved this!!! My favorite so far.

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