Never Go To Ralph’s At 12:28 AM

Nothing good happens when I diet (er, try to diet), which is why I don’t diet. When I do, it inevitably ends with me crying in the empty kitchen at 12:05 AM, starving, broken, and contemplating driving to Ralph’s before they close at 1. I say “contemplating” as if there was any chance I may stick to the diet and stay home, but my heart and I always know I’ll end up going to Ralph’s no matter how many pros and cons are presented.

On one such occasion, I drive to Ralph’s and arrive at 12:28 AM, giving myself just enough time to browse the aisles. I say “browse” because my mind thinks I’ll get fruit, but I can’t stop my body when it knows what it wants: cheesy rice cakes and microwave popcorn. I’m a monster. Before I get in the door, my mouth salivating for its processed sugar pay-off, a young man stops me. We’ll call him Eyedrops because his eyes were so red he either just came from a funeral or, as my mom would call it, “he likes to smoke the weed.” So Eyedrops says hi, I say hi back because I’m weak, and then I run into Ralph’s and avert my eyes from the homeless guy judging me for sacrificing my diet for cheesy rice cakes. I can feel Eyedrops red-rimmed eyes watching me the whole way.

 In Ralph’s I collect my goods without wasting any precious stuffing-face time.  And then I see Eyedrops, roaming the aisles like a lost, little pothead. I duck into the closest checkout line and avoid looking at any of the other poor souls because my arms are full of cheesy rice cakes and microwave popcorn and it’s 12:30 in the morning and I have no dignity. Eyedrops spots me and moves with a slow, determined pace towards me. I tap my foot impatiently; of course I ended up behind the one guy in Ralph’s who decided to do his monthly grocery shopping at 1 AM and then pay in exact change. Eyedrops arrives and stands next to me in line, staring. I try to ignore him, but he shoots weird small talk at me (“Where did you buy your shoelaces?”) and I notice he’s standing in this checkout line with no food items. “Aren’t you going to buy something?” I ask. “Oh yeah. I came for a…toothbrush.” How sexy. “I think toothbrushes are over there,” I say, pointing vaguely in the opposite direction. “Nah, I’ll get it some other time.”

Eyedrops follows me all the way through the checkout line and out the door. I send frantic SOS messages with my eyeballs to the security guard at the exit. She smiles at me. Eyedrops follows me into the parking lot and I finally tell him I’m in a relationship (it only recently occurred to me that you can tell that lie to creepy strangers). For ten minutes, he tries to convince me that I’m not happy in my current relationship and before I know it I’m angry at my hypothetical boyfriend for not treating me right. And then I realize I’m crazy and my fantasy boyfriend is the greatest. Then I have to spend ten minutes convincing Eyedrops that my boyfriend brings me flowers before running to my car, locking the doors, and stress-eating cheesy rice cakes all the way home.

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