I’ve been having dreams about cookies.
Some men dream about getting stranded on a tropical island with a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit model, or of winning the lottery, or making some great golf shots…or just being able to remember why you walked into a room.
But I’ve been seeing Oreos gayly dancing over fences of chocolate chip cookies and through fields of Girl Scout thin mints.
My wife is at fault, of course.
She looked at me the other day as I came through the back door.
“Do you know what people see first when you come through a doorway?” she asked.
“My nice smile?” I asked.
“Your pot belly. It appears a couple of minutes before you’re able to direct the remainder of your lardbucket self through,” she said in her best Weight Watcher Queen voice.
My wife has a way with words. She, of course, watches her weight carefully. Turns out, she’s watching my weight, too.
Personally, I think this weight-watching thing is a great program. My wife cooks all these nutritious low-calorie dishes for herself that anyone who hadn’t eaten for a week and loves kale would treasure. She shies from all the authentic culinary pleasure this life offers — the ones on my side of the dinner table: pizza, subs, Baconators, Reese’s Pieces sundaes. Cider doughnuts…stuff like that.
And certainly, she doesn’t want to hear about Oreos.
One of the things that endeared me to my sweet wife in the early years was the way she could pack away a complete package of Oreos. Give her a big glass of milk, an unopened package, and watch the crumbs fly.
I loved the way my wife dispatched Oreos because I have a similar affinity for peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, which I can make disappear by the loaf-of-breadful.
My wife and I used to play these little food games when we were on diets. I’d bring home a package of Oreos and put it someplace where she couldn’t find it right away. Then, right before we’d go to bed, I’d eat one cookie…just one.
“What’s that on your face?!!” my wife would ask a few minutes later as she sits bolt upright in bed and stares down at me while my head lays to rest on the pillow. You might not think that asking such a question is a big deal, but it’s really quite an accomplishment — the lights in the bedroom are out. It’s pitch black. You’d think she couldn’t possibly see my face in the dark.
“Are those cookie crumbs on your face?” she asks.
I say nothing.
“Are those Oreo double-stuff cookie crumbs on your face?” she asks. Now she’s shaking my shoulders for an answer.
I say nothing.
Her index finger is poking me in the chest. “I told you not to bring those things into the house.”
I say nothing. But now I’m smiling.
“Where are they, you rat?”
So I tell her where they are — on the kitchen counter downstairs.
When we were in our first 20 years of marriage, when we were dealing with four kids in the house with us, she would rumble out of bed and disappear down the stairs. A few minutes later, she’d reappear in bed.
“Did you leave any Oreos for your husband or children?” I’d ask.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she’d say. “And it’s all your fault.”
The longer I’ve been married, the more certain I am that everything is my fault.
“You made me eat all those Oreos,” she’d say, pulling up the bedcovers.
“So what if you ate a few cookies?” I ask. “Who’s going to care?”
“I’m going to care!” she said, sitting up in bed again. “I have to face all those people at Weight Watchers and stand up in the middle of the meeting and say, ‘My name is Gayle…and I am an Oreoholic.’ I have to get out my calculator and show them how many points I’ve blown away. Then all the people in the class will wag their fingers at me and say, ‘Shame! Shame!’”
“But honey,” I said reassuringly, in my best former-science-teacher voice, “those cookies you ate have no calories so you don’t have to confess to anything.”
Despite the darkness in the bedroom, I knew she was scowling at me.
“Come on,” she said, “everyone knows that cookies are loaded with calories.” I hear in her voice a certain desperation for a compelling argument for Oreo-eating forgiveness.
“Do you remember that old philosophical discussion everybody had in high school? The one about, ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?’”
“Sure,” she said.
“Well, science has proven that if no animal is there to hear the tree fall, no ‘sound’ is made. And if no one is there to see you eat a cookie, the cookie has no calories.”
“I’m serious,” I told her. “and I bet you didn’t know that cookies are held together by special organic chemical bonds that absorb energy when they’re broken — and that energy comes from the calories in the cookie. As soon as you break a cookie, all the calories get absorbed. You never see a fat person eat a broken cookie.”
“I am serious,” I say with heartfelt sincerity. “Haven’t you ever eaten a cookie that’s been in an open package for too long in humid weather? Doesn’t that cookie taste a little soggy and heavy? It’s because all the calories are still in it.”
“That’s amazing,” my wife says. “Do you mean that because I ate those Oreos in the dark where nobody could see me and because I like to break them into pieces to dip in milk, that they don’t have any calories?”
“Not a one.”
“Thank you, dear,” my wife says, kissing me on the forehead, leaving an outline of Oreo cookie lips on my skin.
“Sleep tight, darling,” I say, and off to gentle dreamland she goes.
My wife and I have been married for 53 years. She still does Weight Watchers, and she looks great.