DORITOS. LIVES THERE ANOTHER snack chip so addictive, so dangerous, so foul to the breath and waistline and yet so easy to engulf in great, faux-cheese-dusted handfuls?
Doritos were my downfall last night, at a poker gathering with my usual players. I had eaten properly all day, and had allowed myself the luxury of two slices of pizza out of the pie ordered for the festivities. Within the context of my activity level and food intake, this was no problem.
Then the host's wife came home, bearing snack chips. Among them, the foul saffron-hued deceivers themselves.
A bowl was placed at my end of the table, along with a heap of Fritos, glistening there like Howard Hughes's canola-fried toenails. The familiar waft of chemically processed cheese analogue sweet-talked its way into my nostrils. My Doritos life flashed before my eyes:
I am in third grade. I am sitting in the living room of my parents' house, chubby ass ensconced on mid-70s-era mustard shag. I am reading a book on chess (Chess the Easy Way, by Reuben Fine), a childhood interest of mine. I have taken this book out of the Montvale library numerous times. It pleases my young mind somehow — not necessarily the content, but the red cover, the print, the renderings of the pieces on the board. On the coffee table next to the book is a Corelle bowl, white with a stripe of small green flowers around the outside, from a line of crockery that tens of thousands of postgrads would inherit from their parents upon finding their first new apartment. The bowl is filled with Doritos, heavily spiced and fried, crunchy, yet sadly not infinite. Each handful brings me closer to the point when I will have to wheedle my way into a refill. . . .
I am in freshman year of college, fall semester. I am reclining on my dorm room bed, my small, static-laced TV propped up on a dresser and the focus of my attention this evening. I am waiting for the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first new Trek show in decades. After spending part of the previous summer watching the original show to make fun of it, I have unwittingly fallen into being a fan. As the final commercial finishes, I rip open a huge bag of Doritos and await the opening narration. . . .
October 3, 1995. Lunch hour. I am joining an entire nation in hanging on every word of Judge Lance Ito, who is speaking to the foreman of the jury appointed to weigh the guilt or innocence of O.J. Simpson. Unlike millions who are riveted to this spectacle their TVs, I am sitting in my black Corolla in the Mahwah parking lot of my employer and listening to the proceedings on the radio. Eschewing a nutritious lunch for convenience and comfort, I am grazing from an open bag of Doritos that sits on the passenger seat. I punctuate Ito's instructions with echoing crunches and frequent sips from the 20-oz. bottle of Diet Coke at the ready in the cupholder. Months of tension and speculation on the part of armchair attorneys and talking heads will climax in moments. I stop feeding my face only when I hear the words, "We the jury. . . ."
Saturday night? Sunday morning? It's not the next day until you sleep. So it's still some random Saturday in 2000. I have just gotten home from my pal Tony's, where he and Felix and I have been enacting mayhem on Tony's PlayStation. This is way too much stimulation even for my adult brain, so on the way home I have snagged a bottle of Diet Sprite and a bag of Doritos. Some folks like sleeping pills, some prefer warm milk, others a stiff shot of Nyquil. I have chosen to wind back down with a book, Ramie's Lane Closure Ambrosia show of drum & bass on WFMU, and a hand-to-mouth conveyance of "cheese" and calories until I drop off or run out of chips. . . .
Yes, I finished the bowl. No, I don't regret it.