Candy Girl

“Hey Jen, it’s Viv.”
“Oh. Hi.”
“So, I’ve been trying to reach you forever – where have you been?”
“Geez – I have a job, you know! I’ve had to work late every night this week. And you may recall I’m in a jug band. I’m so frickin’ sick of jug band practice. God! It’s so damn hot out! Ugh – my house smells like cat pee! Dammit, I just cleaned their litter box! So help me, if they peed behind the couch…”
“Ooo…kay. Something bothering you, Jenny?”
“Huh? No, why?”
“Mmm… you seem kinda edgy.”
“I do? Huh. Sorry ‘bout that. So… what’s up?”
After I got off the phone with Vivian, I started to think more about what she said. Was I really edgy? The more I thought about it, I really had to admit that she was right – I just hadn’t been myself these past few weeks.
But why? What had changed?
I had to think:
• Even though I complain about it, work really hasn’t been any more stressful than usual.
• I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot.
• I’m healthier than ever since I gave up eating candy last month.
So, what the heck could be the cause of this severe mood swing? It just didn’t add up-
Could that have something to do with it? But… sugar is bad for you, everyone knows that. Giving it up could only make me feel better, right?
But still, it is kind of a strange coincidence that my mood started to change right about the time I gave up eating sugar. In retrospect, I kind of have been snapping at my friends lately. And I guess now that I think about it, I may have been doing a lot more huffing, puffing, and eye-rolling during meetings with my co-workers.
And that’s so unlike me – I’m not moody like that. I’m usually pretty nice. Is it possible that the sudden lack of sucrose in my diet has altered my personality? I had to know more, so I started doing some research.
Through my online investigations into the effects of sugar on the personality, I learned that “exogenously induced hyperinsulinemia further increased triglyceride production in those rats receiving dietary fructose, either as the monosaccharide or as sucrose, but not in those receiving only glucose. Thus, in the presence of fructose, but not glucose, insulin stimulates triglyceride production.”
You don’t say? Fascinating.
Furthermore, I discovered that “with the European colonization of the new world, the Caribbean became the world’s largest source of sugar. Sugar cane could be grown on these islands using slave labor at vastly lower prices than sugar beets could be grown in Europe, or cane sugar imported from the East. The largest sugar producer in the world, by 1750, was the French colony known as Saint-Domingue, which is today the independent country of Haiti. At first most sugar in Britain was used in tea, but later candies and chocolates became extremely popular. Sugar was commonly sold in solid cones and required a sugar nip, a pliers-like tool, to break off pieces.”
It was all becoming so clear to me now.
But as scintillating as all these findings were, they still didn’t really answer my question. Why the severe impact on my personality? Sure, withdrawal could explain the first few days of crabbiness, but I haven’t eaten sugar in six weeks, and my mood is still altered. There had to be a deeper explanation.
Realizing that the best way to truly know yourself is to rely on the opinions of others, I dug out the most raw, reliable resource I could think of – my Junior High School yearbooks. I mean, if the people who knew me when I had Sally Jesse Raphael glasses, braces, and a Sheena Easton hairdo didn’t know the true Jenny, then who would?
I flipped to my seventh grade photo – good god! Could my shirt possibly have any more snaps and zippers? Lord, why did my mother let me out the door looking like that?
Oh god, look at Andrea! This was just before she got weird and shaved all her body hair off at that party freshman year. That was freaky.
Oh. Oh gosh. Cody. Oh Cody, what ever happened to you, with your lightning bolt earring, streaked hair and checkerboard Vans? I would have carried your skateboard to the ends of the earth, if only you had let me.
After taking a quick break from my research to write “Cody + Jenny 4Ever” on my forearm and tennis shoes in blue ballpoint ink, I realized that I needed to get back to the matter at hand. I had to dig into my past to understand what was happening to me. I knew the answers were not hidden in the tan cheeks of my beloved rebel, but rather in the written word.
What did my friends write about me? What did they think of me? I was almost a bit afraid to flip to the back of the yearbook and see what they all wrote, but I knew I had to do it. My findings were shocking, to say the least (emphasis mine):

Jenny –
Stay sweet ‘n cool!
– Luv Kelly
Jen –
2 sweet
2 be
4 gotten
– Katie
Jenny –
Glad I got to know you
this year – you’re
such a sweetie!
Go Indians!
XXOO – Kristy
Jen –
See you in summer school!
GAG! P.E. sucks!
Stay sweet!
Luv ya,
Skate or die!

So there it was – the people who knew me best thought I was… sweet. The answer was staring me in the face, as plain as the purple ink my friends all wrote in. I just discovered that my dominant personality trait is directly linked to my sugar consumption. All these years, it wasn’t my upbringing that made me a nice person, it was my diet. I’ve eaten candy all my life – from Now & Laters to Nerds, from Milk Duds to Marshmallow Peeps. Why, I was on the cutting edge of candy chic when I brought the first bubblegum hamburger into class.
Now somehow, this steady flow of sugar into my system must have been modifying my personality, making me the sweet, lovable person I was, up until six weeks ago.
So what do I do? What if this is my true personality? What if I’m really just a short-tempered, mean-spirited, nasty shrew and I’ve just masked that fact through 34 years of steady self-medication?
I had to call Vivian back to share my findings. She has always been the voice of reason for me when I stray from the path of sanity, and I needed her help more than ever before.
“Hey Viv, it’s Jen.”
“Hey. What’s up?”
“Remember a while back, when you called me to talk, and I flipped out on you for no reason? Maybe you don’t remember that, but I’ve been doing a lot of research to figure out why I-“
“Jenny, that was this morning.”
“Oh. That’s right. Well anyway, since then, I’ve been digging through my old Junior High School yearbooks to try to find out-“
“Junior High?! Ohmigod – I haven’t thought about Junior High since… forever. Oh gosh. Oh Toni. What ever happened to her? I would have carried her guitar case to the ends…”
“Viv. Hey – Vivian! Memory Lane is closed for repairs. This is about me figuring out my crabbiness, remember?”
“Huh? Oh. Sorry. Okay – what were you saying?”
“Anyway, I think that maybe I have fundamentally altered my personality by giving up sugar. Do you think that’s possible?”
“Wait – you gave up sugar? Well, no wonder! Jen, you eat more sweets than anyone I know, so for you to just give it up cold turkey, without some sort of support group was probably not the smartest thing to do. Your body is in a state of shock right now!”
“See – that’s what I thought! So what do I need to do?”
“Look, at this moment, your body is hanging onto every molecule of sucrose it possibly can. The harder your body fights, the bitchier you’re going to become. And since I’m planning a trip back to Chicago in August, it’s really important that we put you through some rapid detox before I get there.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes. Just tell me what I should do.”
“Okay, I’ve been through this before with a friend of mine who was trying to quit smoking – it’s basically the same thing. First, you need to clear your body of all its impurities. The best way to do that is with a high colonic.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s like this intense enema where they pump about 10 gallons of fluid into your rectum so that it flushes out everything in your entire colon, from top to bottom. It’s like wiping your intestinal slate clean.”
“Uh, sounds kind of hard core. Have you ever had one?”
“Of course not, but I don’t eat meat like you do. Anyway, once your colon is purified, you need to start filling your body with more nutritious foods. No more of this processed poison that you eat every day. I’ll send you a link to the raw foods diet program – it helped my friend out immensely when the nicotine cravings kicked in.
“So wait, everything is raw? Like just raw carrots and celery? Can I eat sushi?”
“Mmm… not sure. I don’t think so, though. I think it’s mostly grains and raw vegetables. It’ll all be on the site. Okay, then the last thing you’ve got to do is give up alcohol. There’s a lot of sugar in alcohol, so it will just prolong your detoxification period if you keep drinking.”
“I can’t drink at all?”
“What about wine?”
“No. Tons of sugar.”
“Don’t you put a sugar cube in those?”
“Yes, but I could use Sweet ‘n Low inst-“
“No. Look, Jenny, if we’re going to get this sweet, chewy monkey off your back, we’ve got to do it the right way”
“All right. Well, if it’ll get me back to my old self, then I guess it will be worth it. I knew you’d know what to do, Viv. Thanks!”
Everyone should have someone like Vivian in their lives – a grounding influence, a sounding board, a problem solver. It just made me feel so happy to know that she cared enough about my well-being to put together such a strict regimen for me, so I could get back to being my old self.
Come to think of it, I should probably buy her a thank-you card. As I recall, the greeting cards are right next to the candy aisle at the Jewel, and if I leave right now, I can hit the liquor department on my way out and still have time to run through the KFC drive-thru… sweet!