Several months ago, I made a deal with the devil about my beef jerky habit. Violet was a casual smoker (mostly when she drank) and I was a fairly hard-core consumer of the dried meat.
One night after a stop at the convenience store, I opened a large pouch of "cowboy candy" in the car and Vi nearly vomited. It turned out she couldn't stand the smell of it.
Personally, I've never met anyone who found jerky THAT abhorrent. Never have I seen the smell alone induce gag reflex. (although the smell of Mike's belches have been known to make his brother-in-law puke) Beef jerky is a tame substance. It's earthy. Cowboys eat it. In its other form, Slim Jim, it's one of the major food groups in college.
But for some reason it makes Violet sick... so we made a deal. I would stop eating jerky if she quit smoking.
Most would say that's a lopsided deal - jerky doesn't cause cancer, yellow nails or birth defects. Correct, all of it. But it was worth it because only my separation from jerky would convince her to stop killing herself. So I went on the beef jerky wagon.
First I will tell you she WASN'T in the car - I was alone on a long drive between Columbia and St. Louis and felt a little tired so I stopped at the BP.
There they were... between the Hostess rack and the Chester Fried Chicken display. Pouch after pouch of pungent dried flesh. Beckoning.
Let me tell you, at $6.99 per 4-ounce package, that shit is pricey... most addictive substances are. I can just see a jerky tax coming soon. But price was no object, so after a look over my shoulder and a guilty blush, I purchased a pouch of premium cut natural style hickory-flavored beef and a Sprite Zero to wash it down.
When I got back in the car, it was like I hadn't eaten in days. I broke a sweat during the strenuous mastication... I chewed as fast as my jaw would allow. The aroma filled the car. My mind drifted back to a time when I could do this freely... to a time in my distant past when jerky wasn't prohibited. I swooned. For a few brief moments, as waves of saliva began breaking down the hickory meat and sending it on its way through my system, I resented those who made me quit. I found dozens of justifications for what I was doing. Hunger, boredom, sleepiness. Lack of sodium.
Then, quietly at first but slowly more pronounced and invasive, names of heart attack victims started running through my head. Thoughts of hypertension and gout began raining down upon me. Also slowly building, a rancid mixture of salt, bile and beast threatened to burst forth from my esophagus... and I realized I had done it. I had fallen back into the self-abuse that IS jerky consumption.
Afterward when the smell was gone and I was alone with my self-loathing, I regretted my actions. I saw the error of my ways. It's like any other addiction... you simply lose control. One pouch leads to another. Then another and another until your jaw aches with temporomandibular joint disorder and your bank account is empty. Finally, when you can't pay your rent, your friends have left and it's just you... alone with a million little silica gel packs... you realize. Oh yes. You realize.
I believe I've caught it before it got out of hand. I'm going to a JA meeting on Wednesday night. The friends of Jack Link have my back. The battle will be hard, but I will do my best.
I'll keep you updated. Wish me luck.