As I was eating dinner today, I thought—for the first time in my life—to look at the ingredients in Sriracha. The second-most used ingredient is sugar. FREEZE. Did I just break No Sweet September? Luckily, the voice of rationality (not mine, but my brother’s) said, “Sriracha is not sweet. It’s just not.” Sometimes I confuse No Sweet September with No Sugar September, which made me think about how sugar is an ingredient and sweet is a concept. And I am a sucker for concept.
Once in a while, I ask myself why. Not why I’m not eating sugar (well, sweet things), but why I am so drawn to sitting at my local Starbucks and watching people enjoy their bubble top drinks. I sat next to three middle school kids tonight; one of them had just returned from vacation in Korea, 25 pounds lighter. And I know this because that is all he talked about. To the two girls there, and to multiple people on Skype. He asked, “Do you like fat people, or skinny people?” Multiple times. As though there is nothing in between. I could see why they were Skyping people—I imagine the conversation would age very fast if it was just them. But then a part of me felt sympathetic toward him. Don’t we all have aspects of our identity that we cling to no matter the ferocity of the hurricane? Most of the time, people park their identities on something more permanent—artistic ability, people skills, unshakeable niceness, unshakable apathy. But today, weight loss is not just weight loss but confidence, perseverance, even respect. Weight loss is a concept. And the problem with concepts is that they suck you in, to the point where you don’t differentiate your own limbs from the strings of its web—to the point where you wonder if you broke your no-sweet fast by eating hot sauce.