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Strawberries Of Shame

26 November 2012

I rolled over and opened my eyes. Still dark, but this was only the third time I’d woken up that night so I wasn’t surprised. I laid still for a moment and tried to discern what the discomfort was.

Because a hungry stomach squished above an ever-expanding uterus doesn’t feel the same as a hungry stomach in its rightful place. And I-have-to-pee from a bladder flattened by a miniature human doesn’t feel the same as I-have-to-pee from a normal-sized bladder. Not to mention I’m new to things like lower back pain and sore shoulders, and sometimes there’s no condition at all – just some residual tension from a swift kick, compliments of the ingrate taking over my body.

After a moment of half-asleep self-diagnosis I concluded that this was the first. This was hunger.

But I’ve never woken up hungry in the middle of the night. This was new, and a little ridiculous, and, thus, couldn’t be real.

I rolled over. I rearranged pillows. I rubbed my abdomen to sooth away bulges (that works), and I reassessed.

Pretty sure I’m starving. 

When did this become a thing? Of all the reasons to not sleep through the night, we’re adding random, overwhelming hunger to the list? Really?

I clicked the Home button on my phone. 4 AM. It can wait. I’d already forsaken the warmth of my quilt twice this round. Husband wakes up every time I get up, and I wasn’t going to bother him again. Poor guy has to get up in two hours to go to work.

But it couldn’t wait. I was ravenous. I tried to fall back asleep, but I just laid there thinking about graham crackers and peanut butter.

That’s going to be a pain anyway. I need a plate and a butter knife. Crinkly cracker wrappers are loud. And something to drink, ’cause the peanut butter will make me thirsty. We don’t have snack food though. Graham crackers with peanut butter is my evening snack precisely BECAUSE we don’t have snack food.

And then I remembered the strawberries and the whole universe made sense in a moment and I felt a little silly.

Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to venture into the cold darkness and risk waking up my husband for a third time – to have a snack? What was I becoming? Was the allure of a half-pint of strawberries in the back of the bottom left crisper drawer really going to overpower two people’s need for sleep? It’s not meth, for goodness’ sake, it’s fruit.

I sighed at myself (quietly), and pushed aside the big pillow that barred my exit to the edge of the bed. I wouldn’t eat all of them, and I can quit any time I want.

I snuck out of bed (somehow), slipped on the pajama pants I’d left on the floor by the bed, crept to the back door for my coat or a hoodie or whatever was on the closest hook, and squinted into the accusing glare of the refrigerator at 4 AM. Easing open the sticky, alarmist crisper drawer, I slipped out the plastic carton of berries, tucked it close to my body, and retreated to the nursery – where I could turn on a light that wouldn’t flood directly into the bedroom (there are no doors in our house, except on the bathroom and the closet).

Balancing my treasure on the woven ottoman, I slid the two across the floor and sat down next to it, in front of the love seat, released the peppy flip-lid, tore the greens off the first berry, and proceeded to devour strawberry after strawberry like a holocaust survivor.

How could I be this hungry? Doesn’t matter. Strawberry. Strawberry. I don’t know how it happened, but I managed to buy the world’s most delicious strawberries – from Aldi, of all places.

Footsteps in the kitchen.

Busted.

Husband appeared in the doorway, in his boxers, squinting what I felt should have been severely judgmental eyes at me for a moment. I’m pretty sure I blushed. He took in the scene before him for a moment, and smiled.

“You okay, buddy?”

“Shut up,” I begged. “I’m starving and I couldn’t take it anymore.”

He laughed gently, obviously restraining himself. I considered trying to convince him that I don’t need counseling, or promising it would never happen again, but he just chuckled.

“You coming back to bed soon?”

Considering I was running short of strawberries after only a couple moments, I averted my eyes like a guilty puppy and nodded shamefully.

“I’m not going to eat them all,” I insisted. He just smiled, unbelievingly, as he turned out of the room.

A couple of minutes later I sent myself back to bed. There were four small strawberries left. Not because I couldn’t have eaten them, or because I didn’t want to, but because the survival of those four strawberries somehow insured the survival of my dignity – whatever might be left of it.

I returned the survivors to the ‘frige and folded myself back into bed, satisfied, if only for the moment.

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