Friday... February 8, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 150
The Terror Of Stealing Food
From A Pregnant Woman
And Her Nine Eleven Child
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City--Nothing
is more terrifying than standing hungry in front of a pregnant woman's
Last night I experienced the effects of
"low-level Visceral Terrorism."
It struck me unexpectedly as
I opened the door to my daughter's refrigerator to sate the
growling in my tummy. Only when I started to reach for
the food did I remember my daughter was pregnant, and whatever
I took would subtract from her intake for herself and her developing
I've been on a diet, and decided to break it for the
night. I was helping the grandkids swath layers of frosting
and sprinkles on cookies that their grandmother, my wife, had made earlier. I take
the Thursday night babysitting shift every two weeks, and it was my
evening with the kids. I really didn't want to eat cookies and
frosting. I wanted to "raid" the refrigerator--conduct a thorough
"search and destroy mission" that only those who break their diet know and
understand. I didn't count on the guilt and remorse of being alone
with a pregnant woman's refrigerator.
"They" say that Terrorism strikes in nefarious ways,
when least expected. It got me that way last night. It reached
up out of the bowels of Hell and clutched my gut as I opened the
refrigerator to browse and then select a sumptuous taste of this or that,
whatever caught my hungry eye.
Olives were the first booby trap.
I spied a container of them, an assorted
variety of blacks and greens soaking in oil. They looked
As I started to reach unconsciously for them, the hand
of Vigilance slapped its palm on my shoulder and startled me into
What if these olives were her special elixir, an
epicurean delight she consumed in the middle of the night when her stomach
(and perhaps her new child)
growled for something special?
What if she counted them, and had each olive's location
mapped in her mind? If I ate one, I might shatter the preset
expectations she had of eating every single olive and send her into a fit
of anger and rage? I knew I didn't know much about women, and even
less about the emotional chemistry of pregnant women.
As I wrestled with the dilemma of eating an olive, I
thought about the selfish father eating in front of starving children.
Then the devilish thoughts began to replace the guilty ones. I
thought about taking just one olive, and, to cover my tracks, shaking the
canister so its absence couldn't be noticed.
But what if she had counted them? I tossed
aside the thought of "stealing" one.
Terrorism is like a burr. It sinks into your skin
and then worms its way deeper and deeper, burrowing toward the marrow of
your being. I forced my eyes away from the olive
container and began to search about for something else--perhaps some
cheese, or peanut butter.
Everything in the refrigerator began
to speak to me.
"So, Pal, you're gonna eat your daughter's food.
You're gonna reduce the volume of her intake, huh? What if
what you eat she wants? What if that peanut butter you consume
deprives her and her baby? Huh? How you gonna feel then, Pop?
Stealing food from your daughter and future grandchild's mouth?
Hmmm? What a guy!"
The refrigerator was packed. My stomach growled.
The Maslovian Hierarchy of Needs that begin with food, weighed my
shoulders down. How could I eat any of her "sacred" food
stores. I felt like the bad guy in one of Charles Dickens' novels.
I thought of myself stealing not food from my daughter, but from the
growing baby in her belly.
This is no common baby. It is a Nine Eleven
Child, conceived immediately after the Terrorist attacks. And, it's a
baby to be born in a family who would rather starve than take food away
from the hungry.
and her husband devote their life to peace, to its promulgation.
They are "peace activists" who live and work with the disenfranchised, the
marginalized people of the world. They put their food where their
mouth is--always welcoming and supporting anyone in need.
Her refrigerator took on the persona of a vault
of Food For The Starving World. I became a hungry rat, ready to raid
it. Most stomachs know no conscience, at least mine doesn't.
It will consume just about anything when I'm hungry, and having just a
"taste" always leads to more "tastes." That's why I'm on a diet.
I love to "taste."
But there was a force greater than my stomach at work.
The Sentinels of Vigilance were up and about, hovering around me,
whispering in my ear--"You really want to eat that? You really want
to to take that from your daughter, from your future grandchild?"
As I rummaged through the items
in the frig, my fingers became heavy; my hand trembled.
The once innocent carrots and celery suddenly became eggs from
the Golden Goose, and my extraction of even one stalk, or just
one baby carrot seemed to me at the moment like removing a species
from the face of the earth and upsetting its delicate balance.
Then I spied the bananas. They were
bright yellow, sitting on the counter in a fruit basket. I closed
the refrigerator--my tormentor. I was drawn to them,
mesmerized by their seductive color, the idea of their mushy pulp being
masticated in my mouth. Some were nearing the "too ripe" stage, and
wore streaks of black running up the peel. One banana, I
thought. There was a literal "bunch" of them. She
wouldn't miss one banana!
As I reached for the fruit, again my fingers refused to
grasp it. The closer I closed the gap between my daughter's food and
my now-snarling stomach, the heavier my hand became. What if
she ate three bananas a night? What if she ground them
up and mixed other fruits with them in the blender? Would the
lack of one banana upset her formula? Did she buy them by the unit?
One for her, one for the baby? One for her, one for the baby?
Finally, I gave up. The
ethical versus primal desires to eat were too much for me. But there
was a final option--there always is in life.
I turned my attention to my two
grandchildren who were busy putting frosting on the cookies.
The cookies were a surprise for my daughter and her husband.
They weren't part of her existing food supply, but rather an add-on.
The cookies were from the G-Ma Aid Society. I had a right to eat
them without moral guilt. Why, my daughter didn't even know the cookies
existed. They were "outside" her food portfolio.
I sat down with the kids and began to
slather frosting of different colors on the cookies. When the
kids weren't looking I popped one in my mouth. The rule G-Ma set
down before she left was we couldn't eat them until after dinner.
G-Ma had already prepared the kid's food, and told me to help myself to
what was in the frig--easier said than done. The cookies were
my last resort.
I gauged myself carefully, assuring
my grandkids didn't catch me breaking off a chunk here or there and
surreptitiously popped one chunk after another into my mouth until
Sarah, the three-year-old watch guard of the cookies, snapped at me:
"G-Pa, we can't eat these cookies 'till after dinner. No,
She put her small hand on my large arm en
route to my mouth. I put the cookie crumble down. Caught
by a three-year-old, I muttered..
After the kids ate, I cleaned their plates
rather than throw away the food. I considered it an act of
Finished, we all sat around and shoved
cookies in our faces. While I hadn't planned on consuming so
much sugar, my stomach didn't care. It kept urging me to eat another
and another. I had three of them.
On my way home along Avenue A, I passed by
the crowded restaurants that line the streets of New York.
Each one teemed with people.
I gazed in the windows. People were
consuming guiltless food. They shoveled or poised their forks
before their lips, and without any hesitation or remorse or ethical
struggle, shoved it into their oral orifices. I assumed none of them
was chewing on the thoughts of a pregnant woman or a Nine Eleven
Child as they ate
I swung up 4th Street, hit the ATM at the bank on
the corner of 2nd Avenue, and made a bee-line for my favorite all night
grocery store. I got two pints of Ben & Jerry, one for me, and one
for my wife. I figured cookies and ice cream would crush my diet,
but I didn't care.
The only thing I knew for sure was that the next
time I baby sat I would - hmmmm- I would eat in peace before I come
over rather than starve in Terror when I got there.
To Diary--Feb. 7.--Why No U.S. Olympic Nine Eleven Flag Allowed
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