Thursday, January 15, 2009

Simple Pleasures

I’ve been enjoying simple pleasures as of late, seeing as how the economy is terrible and I’m not a millionaire, I can no longer afford to “shop away” my bad moods or get my nails done when I’m feeling a little off (bargain deals at TJ Maxx followed by a French manicure at Miracle Nail makes for a revitalizing afternoon). And so I’ve been combining random activities to entertain myself on the cheap. For example, did you know how much fun it is to vacuum while enjoying a few cocktails? Consider it the woman’s version of mowing the lawn while enjoying a six-pack of beer on the zero-turn. Lawn mowed, spirits raised. Whoever said you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure has obviously not tapped into how exciting it is to operate a Bissell on a bottle and a half of Chardonnay. When is the last time your buzz yielded clean floors? Spectacular. Next on the list will be the Swiffer Wet Jet paired with Lemon Drops.

My simple pleasures often involve some kind of food. Lately I’ve had an insatiable need for Jelly Belly jelly beans. I’m not really a jelly bean fan, but I like that I can experience buttered popcorn, grape jelly, toasted marshmallow, orange sherbet and cotton candy at my leisure just by selecting something the size of a pebble from a tiny bag that fits in my palm. The novelty of such access to a myriad of flavor explosions is almost too much for me to handle. Almost.

I’ve been enhancing my Jelly Belly indulgence with the viewing of some really bad reality TV (think Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels) and have also added the swilling of beer to this cornucopia of simple pleasures. Last Saturday, I fully intended to get cozy on my couch and read the stack of Runner’s World and Triathlete magazines that have been piling up around my apartment, but a quick scan through the TV guide landed me smack in the middle of a Real Housewives of Atlanta marathon playing on Bravo. Like Pavlov’s dog, I scurried to the kitchen for a bag of Jelly Bellies and a Blue Moon, and proceeded to watch four hours of the series as if in a fever. I even watched the reunion show that aired after the series was over with. As if this wasn’t bad enough, I then tried to locate the premier of the new season to get it scheduled onto my DVR.

My bean binge has likely had an effect on the sales numbers at Jelly Belly Candy Company, as I’ve been regularly purchasing a few bags of them the way most people pick up a carton of eggs and a gallon of milk. It’s becoming a staple. However, I’m starting to wonder if the consequences of chewing on 40 pounds of sugar every day will start to take its toll on my teeth. I have excellent oral hygiene, but still, this must be challenging my mouth’s ability to stave off cavities. I actually started to think about this because the other day one of my co-workers shared some of his beans with me when I was desperate for an at-work fix, and he told me that another Jelly Junkie had recently filled three cavities. He credited the Jelly Bellies for this. I laughed it off while my brain suddenly played a filmstrip of all the recent times I’d polished off whole bags of these things by myself. Something definitely needed to change.

The next day I was grocery shopping, and happened upon the Jelly Belly section of the candy aisle. The beans strained against their bright plastic packaging, willing me to grab them – daring me to walk away. The pina colada bean (my favorite one), was prominently placed in the middle of the clear plastic window, whispering sweet nothings to me.

“Lisa, porqué tu no me quieres más?”

I compromised and reached to the left of them, grabbing the sugar-free Jelly Bellies instead. Surely they would taste the same, wouldn’t they?

No, they sure don’t. The flavor and overall consistency of the beans were compromised by eliminating the sugar; sabotaged by a string of words I can’t pronounce in the ingredients. These were not the beans I knew and loved. Furthermore, I began gaping at the bag upon reading this:

Warning: Consumption may cause stomach discomfort and/or laxative effect. Individual tolerance will vary; we suggest starting with eight beans or less.

So much is wrong with this – starting with the recommendation that one should eat eight beans or less. Were they kidding? Who eats eight jelly beans and then stops? And if they’re supposed to be less bad for you, you can kiss the eight-beans serving good-bye. It goes without saying that things like Oreos and Jelly Bellies don’t operate in terms of serving size, anyway. Ridiculous.
And what is this about stomach discomfort and laxative effects? If I wanted that kind of outcome, I would develop a Taco Bell fixation – not a Jelly Belly craving. I know they’re jelly beans – but they aren’t real beans, people!

Needless to say, Jelly Belly is becoming less of a simple pleasure and more of a complicated pain in my ass – quite literally, as it were.

It figures that something that looks so good – too good to be true – could actually end up hurting you and making you miserable. I wonder if Jelly Belly has a flavor called “ex-boyfriend.” They could just rename the licorice one to that – nobody likes that flavor anyway.

Oh well. I suppose I should move on to discover other simple pleasures – preferably ones that could aid in my pants size going down. I have been getting back to the gym with a vengeance and am excited to start training for triathlon again, but I still need to lose all of my “racing season is over, yahoo!” weight. When my serious training starts in March, I’ll have less time for bad television and empty calories – replacing these simple pleasures with more complex ones, like shaving 20 minutes from my finish time in the half Ironman race this July and qualifying for the Boston Marathon in September. Jelly Belly can’t make a flavor that tastes as good as the sweat that you capture from your lips when you cross the finish line after a hard race.

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