I sat there smoking, watched my cigarette scream in agony with each gulping drag I pulled from it, then listened to it pop and sizzle and beg for mercy before ashing over to droop at the end of my fingers. Nothing special on my mind, really. It was the last dregs of my weekend, which means the anticipation of what the following workweek brings squatted in my frontal lobes like a cannibal in front of a spit fire.
It’d been a pretty good weekend to that point. Lots of time with the family, not so much time with the computer, didn’t have to watch the tattered remnants of the Patriots play, and broke out of our diet in a major, caloric-orgy way. For me, that means burgers — with the bun, thankyouverymuch — with a real, honest-to-fructose Coke, beer, crackers, and of course, something chocolatey and cakey … like a chocolate cake, for example.
I knew I’d tossed weeks and weeks of work out the window, and stared down the barrel of no less than two more weeks of hard, stringent dieting to get back into the hormonal cycle for weight loss, but it was worth it. The decadence, the hours of gorging, the euphoric release of endorphins … yeah, worth it. I smiled and hit the cigarette again, all the while thinking I need to quit this habit before it kills me for the umpteenth time.
The tiny voice drifted through the door over the wheezing exhaust fan, and drew a smile from me.
“Daddy?” My daughter’s voice, sweet, melodic, dripping sugar and love. She must want something.
“Yes, love?” I said, pushing as much of the joy and emotion in my heart out through my throat as I can. My love for my kids overwhelms me a lot, and when I speak to them — that is, when I’m not yelling at them to, ironically, be quiet or settle down — I try to convey that in word and in tone.
“Daddy, can I borrow your cake?”
I stopped, weighed the implications.
“Know what, honey? You can have the cake. Go ‘head and keep it. Daddy’s not going to want it back when you’re finished with it.”