The Confession


Pietro Longhi, The Confession

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”

“Amen. And how long has it been since your last confession, child?”

“Umm…twenty-some years? ”

“Well, that’s a long time, but still, it’s a good thing you came. How can God lift your burden?”

“Father, I ate at Wendy’s today. And I LOVED it.”

“I don’t understand, my child?”

“I’m not supposed to be eating at Wendy’s.”

“It’s not one of the commandments…”

“I’m trying to lose weight.”

“Ah! Gluttony.  You were guilty of gluttony.”

“Well…not exactly.”

“What do you mean?”

“You see, I knew for a fact that I had 400 calories left over for dinner. I have class right after work on Monday, and I have to drive from work to class, so basically I have an hour window where I can eat dinner on campus.”

“Campus food options are delicious and wrong.  So I think all day about what I’ll be able to eat before class that will count as dinner. I put the dinner food on my calorie counter and see how it’s going to affect my daily bottom line.”

“You could have brought dinner with you?”

“There’s nowhere to heat it up. Anyway, so there are food trucks, pretty much, which is hell.  Last week I was able to choose a  delicious, delicious, healthy, soup-y, chicken-y Vietnamese pho.  But you see, they give you a 32-oz container, which is basically 700 calories.  So you need to be able to eat only half of that.  Have you ever tried eating only half your pho, father? And then throwing away the rest?  While people quietly judge you? And you think about how much waste it is because you’ve been brought up in a siege mentality, in a culture that continuously forces you to eat and eat, but only if you’re not vegetarian?”

“Well, no but-”

“It was immensely hard.  But I did it.  I only ate half of the container. And I still felt full.”

“Good for you, my child-”

“But then I realized if I kept doing pho, at some point I would just go crazy and eat all of it. Because people can’t control portions:”

“So for this week, I needed an alternative.”

“Go on, my child.”

“So I was initially going to have a slice of pizza and a side salad, which would have been fine.  But then, right as I turned the corner. There it was.”

“Wendy’s.”

“Bingo!”

“And it lured you in?”

“Yes. I could feel it taunting me.  So there I am, trying to calculate calories for different things on my smartphone even as I’m going into the den of evil.  I was initially going to get 10 Chicken Nuggets, but decided that a kids’ meal of a chicken sandwich and apple slices would be just as well, and I’d get a fruit serving.”

“Bravo!”

“Yeah, bravo.  So they bring me the sandwich, but they’re all out of apple slices.  I go sit down to eat my sandwich of shame and I notice they packed something extra in the bag. FRENCH FRIES. Instead of apple slices. Which I specifically asked them not to put in. ”

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

“Yeah, all that Matthew 3:16 kind of stuff.”

“So what did you do?”

“I ate four fries. And then I threw the rest of the bag away. But it was the slowest fry-eating I’ve ever done in my life. I sat there and I licked the salt off each fry.  Then I ate them bite by bite. It took me probably five minutes to eat each one of those things.  Because when you don’t eat fast food for a while and the you do, the craving is intense. Even halfway through the class, I’d eaten the sandwich, I was full, but I still kept remembering how good and fatty and salty and fried it was and I wanted five more.”

“Lust.”

“Well, not exactly. Ok, maybe lust. Not only did I want five more sandwiches, I wanted fries.  I wanted pizza covered with fries.  I wanted milkshakes with chocolate bonbons mixed in there.”

“Are you not eating at all?”

“No, that’s the whole thing! I actually am.  I feel much better, I’m eating better portions, and I’m eating better food.  And I even eat junk food sometimes and at least one dark chocolate square every day. But I miss eating whatever, whenever, wherever. I want a soft pretzel I could dip into frozen yogurt. I want unending qualities of peanuts. I want five bagels and-”

“Bagels?”

“Yes, everything and onion and the ones at Panera with the asiago cheese melted all over them and-”

“Catholics don’t eat bagels.”

“Who said I was Catholic?”

“What. You’re not Catholic? Why are you at confession then?”

“No, I’m Jewish.  I just really wanted to tell someone that’s not my husband, because he would totally judge me. and he’s kind of tired about hearing how I can only eat small portions of everything good now.”

“Not even God can help you, my child. I do know the number of a good psychiatrist.”