Monday, August 25, 2008

Popcorn Is Not a Problem

It’s not every day you find your food fetish soul mate. I mean, I thought I had a problem.

My addiction? Movie theater popcorn.

Don’t laugh. You know what I’m talking about. And don’t even bother with me if you can — wow — eat a half a bucket yourself.

The other night, one of my best friends confessed that she is like me. I could have been talking to myself in the mirror. The things that came out her mouth, damn near drooling as she waxed poetic about popcorn’s many virtues. Crunch-ability, buttery flavor, just the right of amount of oil that oozes out as your bite into the golden nuggets, the salt that makes the soda taste like nectar of the gods, and of course the serving size. The delectable jumbo-ness of it all. And — be still my beating heart — free refills.

Dear lord. I wonder if there is a 12-step program for this?

When she told me she sometimes passes by the theater on her way home for a night in front of the TV just to buy a bucket of popcorn, I knew I’d met my match. I’ve never done that, though I’ve contemplated it, even wondered if that would mean I’d gone over the edge.

“But what about the refill?” I asked. I mean, you pay like $5 for what is really about 50 cents worth of the crack-like goodness and you miss out on the refill? It’s just wrong!

“You should have a bag with you so you can dump the purchase, then go back and get the refill,” I said, salivating at the idea.

“Good idea!” Her eyes lit up. I think she swooned.

“Have you ever gotten the refill after the movie, when you leave?” I asked.

“No!” she looked like I’d just handed her a winning lottery ticket. “I never thought of that!” She smacked her lips.

Now we both agree on a few rules of popcorn consumption: You never begin eating the popcorn until the movie actually begins. Not when the previews start. It’s a weird quirk, some bizarre ritual I’m sure addicts and other obsessive-compulsive types must recognize in some fashion.

That said, I must confess, she is more disciplined than I. I used to be that way but I succumbed, gobbling through the bucket the moment I’m seated. I actually look forward to being a good halfway through before the movie starts so I can get the refill and not have to miss any action by having to do it later. And no matter whom I am with, I seem to get at least 90 percent of the bucket to myself.

Except one time: I was with a friend — a super smart professor type who’s a bit of a nut — at a special event movie screening. We shared a large refillable bucket. I was aghast at the way she inhaled the stuff, keeping my eye on her with sidelong glances. I could barely focus on the movie. She looked a little … wacky. Out. Of. Control.

My god, I thought. Do I look like this? I was a little horrified. I mean, I’ve been with friends — at which point I usually try to eat more slowly simply because I want to appear somewhat “normal” — and still! I have been teased for my incessant, rapid gulping.

At least I don’t get butter like my friend — my popcorn soul mate. And I’ve never gotten popcorn without at least going to the movie, too. I have fantasized about bringing a large plastic bag into the theater, immediately dumping the bucket and getting the refill then — two buckets, no missing of any action. Nirvana!

But I’ve not done that yet. I mean, I do have some control.

Give me credit for this too: I used to down dinner before a move, then compulsively crunched through most of the large bucket (well, it is more cost-efficient, you know, and there are people starving everywhere) only to feel positively grotesque afterwards, and, mercilessly, bloated the next day.

Solution? Now if I go to an evening movie, I skip dinner. Popcorn is my first, second and third course. It is a vegetable, you know. With lots of fiber. And, at most, I’ve consumed a large bucket and a half on my own.

Why, compared to some friends (god love them), I'm practically a poster child for eating popcorn ravenously but responsibly.


Stacey said...

LOVE the popocorn, love it even more with m&m's - a decadence my sister turned me on to. I think that's why I don't go to movies as often as I used to.

Well, that and all the chatting. What up with that?

Only the Half of It said...

I keep trying to quit. But I find myself looking forward to the movie so I can indulge. Thank god it's dark in there! It's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya. You and I would make a lot of popcorn crunching noise if we attended a movie together. What amazes me is how nice and svelte you remain, despite this shared addiction!

Great post, Ellen ... I am off to read the one about the library. And now I am hungry for something buttery.

The Write Referee said...

OK, so I LOVE this popcorn post! Something is wrong if you can't relate to the unfettered binge that is eating popcorn from a movie theatre(<---hello Dan Quayle).

I have a second vice: Pizza. I know I don't need that last slice, that I'll have a skin-searing burn in the pit of my stomach hours later, but I can't help it!

We all know movie house popcorn is bad for you. It takes two weeks off your life expectancy, yet we gobble it down like some starved kid who missed lunch at school... aand before the previews are over, too.

Great post!

Only the Half of It said...

Ah, a fellow addict. I went to a matinee yesterday and felt positively decadent with my large popcorn all to myself. I wasn't going to do it and at $6.25 should have passed. Alas, I buckled. Delightfully. Though I did not get the refill on the way out (I did that last time!). I then gulped down two cheese pizza slices at home.
Seriously. I think I need some control here.