Big Billy – No sugar tonight

Thank cripes Easter is this weekend. Because not only does it mean I’ll be stuffin’ my face with all kinds of Easter chocolate (and however much of the kids’ Easter chocolate I can get away with), but it also means an end to lent.

Now most other years, Minnie’s the only person I know who still gives up things for lent. Big BIllyAnd like I told yis a couple of years ago when she gave up tea, I’m not even sure why she still does lent at all. The only time we ever see the inside of a church is for a funeral, or a wedding, or a christening. I guess she’s still big on the tradition of it, but when she announced at the start of lent she’d be givin’ up sugar, I couldn’t pretend to understand it anymore and I had to ask.

First of all, if you’re gonna give up somethin’, then I say whatever floats your boat. I’d imagine you’d just choose one thing and that’d be that. In other years she gave up chips, or chocolate, or that one time a couple of years ago, like I say, when she gave up tea and went a bit mental.

But sugar?? I says to her. Do you mean you’re not gonna take sugar in your tea anymore?

No sugar in my tea, no sugar on my cereal, no sweets with sugar in them, she says. Anything that got sugar in it, I’m not gonna eat it.

But that ain’t right, I says to her. You’re not just choosin’ one thing to give up, you’re givin’ up an ingredient! You’re givin’ up the one thing that’s in pretty much all the food we eat! Sugar makes everything better!

Givin’ it up for lent, she says, and gave her head one sharp nod, as if to say that’s that.

Wait a minute, I says to her. So does that mean no peanut butter Oh Henry bars? (She’s pretty much addicted to them.)

Bars got sugar, she says.

What about your date squares? I says

Date squares got sugar, she says.

It was obvious there was no talkin’ sense to her about it. So I just went in the room to watch the hockey game. Fine, I said to myself, if she wants to give up everything delicious in life for a month, that’s no skin off my nose.

Ohhh, but it was. It turned out it was a lot of skin off my nose, bye.
The last few months, every Sunday night Minnie and Rosie have a bakin’ night. Rosie’s startin’ to take an interest in how to do things like that, and Minnie likes showin’ her, and doin’ their recipies together and that kind of mother-daughter stuff. So every Monday morning with my tea, I’d have three or four of whatever they made the night before – date squares, or chocolate chip cookies, or rocky road squares, or whatever other delicious sweets they cooked up.

So the first Monday after Minnie started in on this lent business, I stumble into the kitchen, pour myself some tea, and where the new plate of delicious sweets usually is, I find what looks like clumps of wood chips.

What in the hell is this? I says, pickin’ one up and tappin’ it off the edge of the plate.

Whole-grain granola, Minnie says. Rosie wanted to try it after she seen the recipe in a vegetarian cookbook.

I gave her the old stink-eye and decided I’d rather try some than suffer through my tea with no sweets.

When I bit into it, it was like somebody mixed up dirt and sawdust, all dry and crumbly in my mouth.

Holy cripes! I said. That’s terrible!

Which I guess wasn’t the right thing to say. So no breakfast sweets for me.

By Thursday of that week when I was havin’ my mornin’ tea, I had to scrape the bottom of the sugar dish to get the last of it.

Pass me the bag of sugar there, dear, and I’ll fill up the dish, I says to Minnie.

We’re all out, she says. I gotta pick some up at the store.

And since she was at the store that afternoon, you can imagine my surprise the next morning when I poured my tea and found the sugar dish empty.

Where’d ya put the new bag of sugar? I said, rootin’ through the cupboard.

Minnie casually turns the page of her newspaper and says, I think it would do all of us a world of good if we ate a lot less sugar around here.

Now my first thought was to lose my mind and kick and scream and fight that there was no way in hell I was gonna give up sugar just because she did. But for some reason, my stubborn streak swelled up all of a sudden, and I said – Fine! Piece of cake!
And you know somethin’? The past month has been pretty easy, which is why I didn’t even mention it until now. See, the way I got around it was, every time I left the house, I’d stuff my face with sugar. You ever order a coffee with six sugars? I swear the cup feels heavier.

Every day, I’d go in the dollar store, get an armload of bars and find a place to park and eat them all. Then, about two weeks into this, I started peein’. I mean a lot. Like, peein’ every 15 minutes the whole day. Finally on one of them trips back and forth to the bathroom, Minnie noticed and says – Holy cripes, we gotta get you checked for diabetes, mister.

So now I have an appointment next week for bloodwork to see if I gave myself the diabetes. Of course, by then Easter will be over and I can go back to eatin’ sugar every day like a normal person.

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