Hot days like today bring back memories like this:
The first time I really needed a fix, I was sweating. Hell, I was panting.
I was 14 years old. Our home had little box air conditioners that didn't travel well from room to room. It felt like 90 degrees inside the house. With humidity. That would make the RealFeel (thanks, AccuWeather) something like 98 degrees.
And I'd just come home from my daily, sweaty summer tennis lesson at the River Forest Park District. Then, walked back a full 12 blocks without a dime to stop anywhere for something cold to drink. Or eat.
I was parched. I was thirsty. And I was irritated.
"Gotta find it, GOTTA find it!" I said to myself. I raced through the house, slamming cupboards and doors, scaring my pet cats, in search of the one thing I knew could bring back my sense of normalcy, my equilibrium, and my sanity.
"Al, what the HELL are you doing?" my sister yelled, incredulous. She'd never seen me that mad.
"Did you take it?" I yelled.
I nearly threw my sister aside, because she was blocking my path like a defensive lineman, keeping me from my goal. "It's going to take me a LONG time to forgive her for that one," I thought to myself. "But I WILL make her pay!"
Two cats, a sister, and three rooms later, I'd finished my 40-yard sprint to the freezer compartment of our refrigerator. Hands shaking, I opened the door.
And there....like a sugar-coated Holy Grail, there it was. In the freezer of our cocoa-toned GE two-door....the one that reminded me of chocolate ice cream....inside was my Nirvana.. Rocky Road ice cream, courtesy of Baskin-Robbins. The pint we'd bought yesterday was still there.
I'd become addicted to Rocky Road ice cream (18% butterfat, dark chocolate, almonds, and mini-marshmallows) at the job that got me my Social Security card at age 14....Baskin-Robbins' 31 Flavors. I'd been going there since we moved to Oak Park when I was three.
But I'd loved ice cream since I was a baby. One of the first restaurant pictures taken of me was at the old Don Roth's Blackhawk Restaurant on Wabash eating their Clown Sundae. I have a euphoric, triumphant look on my face, waving the spoon around my chubby cheeks. My mom created a ritual in elementary school, taking us to Petersen's Ice Cream on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park to celebrate us passing through another grade.
So my ice cream addiction had its roots early.
That doesn't excuse what happened next. I opened the pint of Rocky Road...AND IT WAS NEARLY GONE.
One of the siblings, no doubt.
That made me see RED. Just like a character out of "True Blood." I went into a rage, thirsty for something to kill. "Just want was the big idea???" I screamed at my sister. "Whaa....I didn't take it, Al!" "You're lying!" I shouted.
My mom's voice popped into my head. "You're the oldest, Alison. You be the bigger person."
Even when she was at work, Mom could still get to me.
So I let go of my sister.
And then I realized...I could have hurt her for wanting this.
I was addicted.
And I was ashamed.
Then, it dawned on me....this is what alcoholics or drug addicts must feel. This is why you don't care what happens, as long as you get the fix.
And if you don't address it, it will address you. I was already 10-15 pounds overweight. Did I want to gain more? Was it worth it to hurt my sister to get what I wanted? Did she have it coming?
Whatever substance, whether it be heroin, beer, wine, or ice cream...whatever makes you not care about anything else...well, that's the story of addiction.
And I ask myself today, what's more important...feeding my addiction or being the human being I think I can be?
No wonder Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Overeater's Anonymous are so necessary. When that monkey's on your back, it doesn't want to get off.
I walked away from Rocky Road Ice Cream that day. And have kept saying no to it. Someday, I hope my control and awareness will allow me to revisit it.
But at this moment, decades later, I don't dare. I don't fantasize either. It will get the best of me, every time.
That's why I call my drug of choice the "hallucinating liar" it is. I simply can't have it. It will have me instead.
As reported by USA Today, the death of Fox' tall, hunky Cory Monteith of "Glee" may have succumbed to the same type of out-of-control addiction.
The tall, hunky 31 year old told Parade magazine in 2011 that he was "out of control" as a teen. He revealed that at age 13, he drank, smoked pot and skipped school in Victoria, British Columbia, after his parents divorced. By 16, he said, his drug use had escalated. He was "doing anything and everything, as much as possible." At 19, he entered rehab for the first time.
The second time in rehab, in March of this year, he had the support of millions of fans, as well as his gorgeous, talented girlfriend and co-star, Lea Michelle.
So much to lose. It is then, ironic Monteith's last two recorded songs on the show mirror his documented real-life struggles: "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)", a duet with Mark Salling. The last performance in which he was featured was Rachel's audition version of "Don't Stop Believin'."
When you know the devil, you walk away. There is no "managing." It will manage you. To the death, if it has to. It appears that Monteith learned that the hard way.