She thought she was safe in the Macy’s housewares department. Tucked away at the very top of the mall, surrounded by curtains and flowery sheets and enameled fondue sets, she thought she could relax her guard.

Then she saw him, hiding at a table of See’s Candies left over from the holidays.

She clutched her collar nervously to her throat and hurried on – but not twenty feet later, at a pre-Valentines’ Godiva display… there he was again! Smiling knowingly. Watching her lower her eyes fearfully and scurry past.

Out the mallside door and into the filtered, processed air of shining brass rails and escalators and palaces to consumerism. She fled Macy’s and sought refuge in the nearby steak house. Spotting her dining companion waiting at the hostess stand, she exhaled in relief – only to gasp again at what she saw at his elbow:

The dessert tray. Creamy cheesecake. A skillet of warmed apples in syrup, wrapped in buttery pastry and crowned with a slowly-melting orb of ice cream. Berries – innocent, healthy berries – trapped in their screaming terror in the claustrophobic embrace of sugary flavored whipped cream. O the horror!

I am stalked by sugar. It is EVERYWHERE.

I went to lunch with my financial guy at that steak house at Tyson’s II. Fortunately, Rick is a fellow sufferer; he, too, is beset by demon sugar. He ate a kale salad and I had wild field greens and we compared our work-out routines and our breakfasts. We turned our eyes away from those around us, not comfortable witnessing what they were doing to themselves with mashed potatoes and rib racks and mac and cheese – what we LONGED to do – and told ourselves that lean cuts of meat and plenty of veggies with water, water, more water was enough for us.

(Actually, I decided I was going to have to kill off the unknown Mrs. Rick and take him for myself when the waitress asked what we wanted to drink. “Can I just have water with a wedge of lemon, please?” he asked, and I had to restrain myself from throwing myself on him and sobbing into his neck, “Me, too! That’s what I order, too! Oh, you poor darling!”)

(I’m pretty sure Rick doesn’t follow The Adventures of a Fat Lady in Fitness Land; wouldn’t he be surprised?? Oh, I’m sorry – tell me again about long term versus short term capital gains; this time I PROMISE I’ll pay attention.)

I know enough to fork the sign against the evil eye when the dessert tray is wheeled past, but I’m still having to snatch back my hand when the bread basket appears, or the French fries are laid all hot and tender and crispy on the table. I never look pasta in the eye – that only encourages capellini – but like any abused wife, I secretly miss its dangerous nature and long for its delicious toxicity to fill me once more. Like Piper Laurie in “Carrie,” I’d scream my shameful secret: “And I LIKED it!”

It’s a process. A constant challenge. And sugar stalks me wherever I go. I wonder if I can take out a restraining order? NO CLOSER THAN FIFTY FEET, YOU! BY DAMN!

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PS: I am aware that my small battle with sugar is not at all as serious or alarming as an actual stalker, and I apologize to those who (rightly) see no humor in the situation.

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