I walk in the house with a small raspberry ganache torte in my hands and I’m surprised to see that the whole family is there.
“Oh hey, dad.” I say, awkwardly trying to hide the cake with my body. I turn to my sister and mouth “what the fuck?”
My mom and dad are on the couch and my sister is on the love chair next door. Their faces look grim.
“Sit down son.” My father says.
“So I just picked up this cake from the bakery.” I say lamely. I look to my sister for help. She shakes her head.
“This isn’t a surprise half-birthday party for dad.” My sister says.
“This is an intervention.” My father says.
I look from face to face, but there isn’t any indication that this is a joke. In retrospect, I don’t ever remember us celebrating half birthdays before.
“Take a seat.” My father repeats. He motions towards a firm backed leather chair across from them.
I put the cake on the table between us and take a seat.
“What are we interventioning?” I ask. My voice is nervous.
“You.”My sister says. She looks to my mother who looks to my father.
“We wantto take about your sugar intake.” My father says.
I sighwith relief. “Ha. Very funny. You guys had me going.”
“We’re not joking.” My mother says. “We’re all worried about you. Different people are affected by sugar in different ways. Studies have indicated that diets heavy in refined sugar are very strongly related to mood swings, anxiety, depression,and obesity.”
I’m starting to get annoyed. “Can we be serious for a moment? What is this reallyabout?”
My mother goes on like she didn’t hear me. “Refined sugar is a drug. Listen to us.We are all doctors. And we love you.”
“Is this because I didn’t make it family movie night?” I ask.
“Hold on.” My sister says. “That part is coming. Who wants to go first?” She looks at the others.
“I’ll go.” My mom says. She looks at me in the eyes and says, “Your sugar has affected me in a number of ways. You missed family movie night three weeks in a row because you were too busy eating ice cream. Half the time you’re angry and the other half you’re sad. Where is my son? What have you done with my happy little boy?”
“You don’t want to go out anymore.” My sister says. “Unless it’s to go to a restaurant. Or the movie theater. And even there I think you care more about the popcorn and candy than you do about the movies.”
“You love movies.” I say. “All we ever do is watch movies and eat food. That’s the basis of our relationship.”
My dad pulls out a sheet of paper from his pocket and unfolds it. He starts to read.
“Introduction:The subject of this speech is the amount of sugar you eat and how it is bad. Body: It affects me in many ways such as you not riding a bicycle with me and also I am sad because you are fat. So very very fat. Incredibly fat. Sometimes I lie awake at night thinking about your blood sugar.”
“My blood sugar is fine.” I say. My blood sugar is better than my dad’s, even though he mostly subsists off of apples, tea, and dietary fiber.
“I’m not done.” My dad says. He turns back to the sheet of paper. “In conclusion: You are very fat and sugar is bad.”
“Ok.” I say to humor them. I’m hungry because I haven’t had lunch yet. I had planned on eating cake by now.
“Maybe I should eat healthier. I will. I’ll make turnips and chicken and brown rice fordinner. That’s healthy right? Point has been made.”
“That’s a good first step.” My dad says. “But we’re going to need a stronger commitment than that. You say you’ll eat healthy and you do for one meal or two or seven.But then you’re right back to eating garbage. You don’t need a diet, you need a life plan. And none of these cheat days. When you start having cheat days,pretty soon every day becomes a cheat day and the normal days become the exception.”
“What are you suggesting?” I ask.
“A year without sugar.” My dad says.
“There’s this rehab program for people in your condition.“ My sister says. "Listen, it’s a disease. You need help. This isn’t just something you can fix with willpower or happy thoughts. You need professional help.”
“We all love you.” My mom says. “Please don’t angry. We’re doing this because we all love you too much.”
“How dare you?” I say. I’m on my feet and slapping my palms against the table with such force that the wood shakes and my mom flinches.
“How dare you sit there and judge me? Let he who is without sin throw the firststone.” I say. “What about your sins?”
“What about your alcoholism?” I ask my mom. “And your prostitutes?” I ask my dad. “And your gambling?” I ask my sister.
There is silence.
And then my father says, “None of us do any of those things.”
I run for the door. There’s a twist and a slam and I’m out, feeling cold air against my face. Then I stop so suddenly that I almost run into the two huge men waiting for me outside.
They are each half a head taller than me and built like linebackers. They have the faces of bouncers and the green scrubs of nurses.
“Don’t fight.” My dad’s voice carries from the kitchen.
“They’re trying to help you.” My mom says.
I feint right and then move to the left. They see it coming and tackle me to the ground.
A struggle ensues in which I manage to slam my elbow into one of the nurse’s nose. It explodes like an over ripe tomato and splatters his face with blood.
“Ow!” The nurse says. “How is someone so fat so strong?”
“Hold him down.” The other nurse says. “He has sugar strength.”
I put up a fight, but they bring me down eventually. I am wrapped in a straight jacket and strapped to a table.
My family is outside, watching me be raised up into the back of an unmarked white van.
I’m so furious that I’m spitting and my face is red.
“I’ll kill you!” I say to everyone.“I’ll kill you all!”
My mom is crying. My father putshis arm around her and comforts her. “Don’t listen to him.” He says. “That’snot him talking. That’s the disease talking.”
They put me in the van feet first and reach for the doors.
“Mail me the raspberry torte!” I shout. And then the doors are shut in my face and thereis only darkness.