Coming out: an unlikely addiction.

The first thing I did after getting my blood work results (see “Me and Mr C” for more details) was to bite the bullet and go to hear my G.P’s verdict. I sat in the squeaky chair, and nervously tweaked the lab paperwork I had in my hands.  The air conditioning unit wheezed gently overhead but somehow didn’t manage to cool me off. I was already anxious about standing up ten minutes later, apprehending the squelching noise of my thighs parting company from the chair. I had committed the schoolgirl error usually only committed by newbies in the South: Shorts and plastic chairs don’t mix in high temperatures.

“So!” The family G.P. beamed at me. “Have you read your results? It’s all fine apart from….”

“The Cholesterol”, I muttered darkly, avoiding her eyes like a kid who knew she was about to be deprived of telly for the next three months.

“Do you eat a lot of charcuterie? Cheese? Red meat?” In France, these are the three biggest cholesterol culprits. I am reasonable in my consumption of all three, and told her so. Except when Bigfoot cooks up pasta (with buckets of lardons, crème fraîche and Gruyère) or steak, chips and Roquefort sauce, that is.

A “pêché mignon” is a great French term. “Pêché” is a sin, “mignon” means cute.  It would be best defined as a weakness, or a guilty pleasure. So with the French philosophy on life,  it’s nothing serious if you enjoy one small, harmless sin on a regular basis. Everyone has one, right? And for some strange reason, it’s never good for you.

I am no exception to the rule, and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about breaching the subject of my own pêché mignon with her.  For me, it’s what I call the PBP – Picon-Beer-Peanuts. Picon is my favourite magic potion: the elixir the Alsatians add to beer for instant perfection in a glass. If Asterix and Obelix had discovered this stuff, they would never have bothered about fighting with Romans.

Put the Picon in the glass and add the beer. It takes on a dark, caramelized look, and becomes slightly bitter with a fabulous taste of orange. Accompanied by a bowl of peanuts to nibble, it has been my trade-mark for years. Attempts to stop this evening ceremony have systematically resulted in failure.

Four bottles of Picon brought by the Alsace pal brigade for an apéritif. And no, we didn’t drink them all.

On receiving the test results, my first reaction was to throw myself at my computer keyboard, smoke rising as I desperately trawled the net to find proof that peanuts were good for me. What I found was the following: “A handful of nuts (unsalted) per day is good for you”. Further selective research informed me that bad cholesterol comes from animal fats. By carefully restructuring the information I had gleaned and omitting the terms “unsalted” and “handful”, I was victorious: peanuts were not bad for me. Ipso facto, they could stay, all was not lost. Hey, presto: clear conscience.

I cautiously proposed this theory to the doctor, whose eyes widened in surprise.  “But you can’t eat that much, surely?”, she enquired. An uncomfortable silence ensued. The air-conditioning unit hummed above my head as I stared at her goldfish, wondered how many times she had experienced the “coming out” of a peanut addict. I chose to give her the truth, embellished with a good dose of humour. I locked eyes with her.

“Umm…. Lets say that if you cracked open a packet now, I’d rip it out of your hands and finish it off within ten minutes. That I am capable of crawling over cut glass on all fours to the supermarket five kilometers away if I don’t have any left in the cupboard. That I am hooked to such an extent that I’ve even checked, to no avail, if the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous exists for peanut junkies. That I dream of being able to walk past the peanut shelf at the local store without grabbing armfuls of packets. That I am worried I could suffer from cold turkey and maybe maim an innocent passer-by. Do you get my drift?” Yep, peanut addicts are the forgotten sufferers of this world.

English: Roasted Peanuts author: Flyingdream

English: Roasted Peanuts author: Flyingdream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once she had recovered from the shock, she burst out laughing. Then she got serious. Her sentence was immediate and irrevocable: Peanuts are not our friends. Peanuts are bad for cholesterol levels. VERY bad. Peanuts should be consumed in small quantities.

I deftly returned the ball, underlining the fact that “small quantity” was not a term I could associate with peanuts, and glumly accepted that I had to give up my nutty companions. No worries, she reassured me: you can still drink a beer!  I sadly explained that PBP would have to become a thing of the past, as they are an inseparable team.  If I drink the Picon-Beer, I’ll be tempted by the peanuts, so they all had to go.

I left her office with a mission: to lower my cholesterol level and have a second blood test in  three months’ time. This means eating even less cheese, eggs, fatty meat, and of course, less peanuts. In the past three weeks, I am proud to say that I have kept on course. Even after a week in the Alsace, home to the infamously creamy, pongy and fabulous Munster cheese and the world’s best charcuterie (incidentally,  my heartfelt thanks to the friends who gallantly left the peanuts off the apéritif menu whilst I was there: you guys rock). I have no idea whether my cholesterol level has gone down, but I do know that I have more energy and better skin than a month ago. And for the moment, I’ve discovered that for every one thing you can’t eat, there are realms of other wonderful things to be discovered which aren’t bad for you. So whatever happens, it’s a win-win situation. Fingers crossed, watch this space……

Advertisements

Waxing lyrical.

This article is not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who is reading this over breakfast or objects to humoristic rhetoric about hair removal in personal places is encouraged to go and read something about cookery, flower-arranging or how to remove stains from garden furniture elsewhere on WordPress now. You have been warned. I doubt I’ll get “freshly pressed” this time: I’ll get over it.

Those of you who have continued reading: thank you for sparing a little time in your hectic schedule to read my blatherings about what I could only describe as a hairy experience.

I think everyone has an unofficial bucket list of things they’d like to do some day. I am no exception to the rule, and have a list of various “unachievables” like giving up peanuts, spending an hour reading in the bath without rugby boy trying to bust the door down, inventing cool, affordable, disposable clothing for kids and meeting my heroes (Kermit’s nephew and Sir Winston Churchill) in the afterlife. Until last night, my list also included trying out home-waxing kits to tame bikini bottom overgrowth. (I think a few more people have just switched over to flower-arranging).

A long-distant memory of hair-removal cream and the disastrous results it procured after an “uh-oh” moment way back in 1992 got me curious to trying out the waxing experience. Having already given birth three times without pain relief, I am not a sissy. Yet I will not wax my bikini line a second time without a general anaesthetic, a bottle of wine, and a pencil clamped between my teeth. What the manufacturers omit to mention on the box is that yes, you do end up going hairless – but from the self-inflicted pain.

Once I had successfully baited P.F and the kids with chocolate and a T.V. screen last night, I surreptitiously sneaked off to my bedroom and locked the door.  I had decided it was time to take control of what the English coarsely describe as “the short and curlies” before running the risk of embarrassing my squad of under-18’s at the pool.

I pulled the kit out of the box and carefully read the suspiciously reassuring instructions leaflet. The whole thing looked cool, blue and refreshing. The packaging announced this to be a “cool effect, reduced pain” experience and the fresh blue and white illustrations supported this theory, although I was somewhat dubious about the three ice cubes, piled one on top of the other. The instructions announced that their miracle wipes prepared the skin then cooled it off afterwards, which had me nonplussed. Hey, Mr beauty company communicator. I know I’m splitting hairs here, but if my skin is supposed to be adequately prepared by wipe 1, why would it need cooling off with wipe 2 afterwards, huh? Would you be hiding something from me, by any chance?

First step: “rub the strip gently between your hands to warm the wax”.  After ten minutes of rubbing frantically like a boy scout attempting to light an evening fire in the Cornish summer mizzle, the wax was still hard as cement. As I didn’t have a blowtorch handy, I grabbed my phone and called Emmamuse, a successful traveller of the waxing world. She laughed and unceremoniously barked “sit on them, it works every time”. It did.

Five minutes later, I eyed the strips of blue guck welded to the tops of my thighs with horror, and wondered why I always felt obliged to give these things a whirl despite my gut instinct audibly screaming that it was a bad idea.

Shortly afterwards, my eyes were watering with the pain. My conclusion was the following: there should be a law against selling beauty products to people with a pain threshold. The pain of waxing your bikini line is probably the equivalent of gouging your own eyes out with a potato peeler, walking over burning charcoal in freshly pedicured feet or washing your hair in a sink full of piranhas.  It would be number ten on my personal pain assessment range, going from one (being hit in the head with the T.V. remote as Bigfoot changes position on the sofa) to ten: ripping out your own body hair with the bright blue goo some male inventor decided to cutely describe as “wax”.

As I took a breather before attacking strip number two, I tried to fathom out why on earth anyone would want to PAY someone to rip their hair out by the roots for them. The only clear advantage that I could see is the fact that when someone else yanks that strip off with all the enthusiasm of Bigfoot ripping open a family-sized bag of Maltesers, there’s diddly-squat you can do about it except lie back, grit your teeth and think of Britain. Apart from the fact that you have paid, when half of the hair has been uprooted, you can hardly pelt out of the door with the other half escaping from your knicker elastic like spring regrowth in the Amazonian rainforest.

But at home, you can’t chicken out either once you’ve glued the damned thing firmly onto your anatomy, and the idea of spending all summer with it hanging out of your bikini bottom kind of forces you to pull the damned thing off. I pulled tentatively on strip number two, trying to coax it away. This brought back memories of trying to tease the elastoplast off my arm on the way home from primary school before tearing the thing off in one sudden movement, my eyes smarting with tears as it ripped out all the hair in a clearly defined rectangle. Yank this thing off your lower abdomen, and you see stars whilst the entire neighbourhood mistakenly presumes that you have taken up opera singing as a pastime.

The remaining wax strips are supposed to be for my armpits. I think I’ll put a bit of jam on them and hang them in the kitchen to catch flies instead.