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I just ate pumpkin pie. Specifically, a pumpkin pie. How did we get dessert out of something so ugly, slimy, and foul-tasting? Welcome to the wonderful world of sugar.

I am a sugaholic. It started in childhood when my mom served donuts for breakfast. It was her way to skip cooking and be cheered in the process. I always wondered why people eat donuts for breakfast but not, say, cheesecake or cotton candy. When my mom did cook, it was Coco Puffs, part of a nutritious breakfast when served with other, healthy food.

At school I maintained my buzz with Fun Dips. Remember those? Packets of colored sugar you eat with a candy spoon? It was the next best thing to a syringe full of syrup. I also bought jawbreakers from a third-grader who had spotted the budding junkie market. He bought 'em by the case and sold 'em one by one. We called him Mr. Fix.

By my teens, Mom stopped doing the kitchen altogether. She passed through the kitchen on her way to more important rooms but never lingered. This allowed me to eat sweets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I justified it all by skipping desert.

And that is how I live, forever towing a desert tray. I fear that I'll wind up in a diabetic coma and the doctor, having no choice, will end my life by shouting, "Hey! Kool-Aid!"

Don't get me wrong. I've struggled to right this thing. I eat "normal food" as often as my wife makes me. When I finish, though, there is but one thing on my mind: chocolate. If I don't get it, there will be a scene. And I will star in it. In case you're one of those people, no, I cannot just eat fruit. It only angers my need for chocolate.

I am growing wider by the moment, unfit to hold my waste line. I try to balance the problem with exercise, but have you ever worked out with fudge on your breath? Your brain says, "Wait a minute, which way are we going here?" Gravity increases by 500%. If it weren't for the carrot cake dangling before my treadmill, I'd give up altogether.

I placed a mirror in the fridge to scare myself straight. And it worked. There really is something to operant conditioning. Now, without even thinking, I close my eyes every time I open the fridge and feel my way to the pudding snacks.

Sometimes I hear the sweets taunting me from inside:

"Jaaaaason...Cream fiiiiillliiiing, Jason..."

I tried to quit cold turkey (oh, but if the problem were merely cold turkey). I traded my sweets for dried fruit, organic jelly, and other foods that pain me to mention. A week later I was sitting Indian-style on the linoleum, philosophizing: What is sugar anyway? Doesn't everything, even broccoli, turn to sugar in the end?

Armed with this logic, I entered the store with different rules. If a package read "Healthy Donuts," it was okay to bring home. They didn't even have to explain. So were any foods that were fat-reduced, vitamin-fortified, or new-and-improved. Before long I was back to pumpkin pie on the basis that pumpkins grow out of the ground, long live creative thinking.

"You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!"

"All right! Health food!"

Desperate, I chose to indulge my obsession and eat as many sweets as I could -- more than I could. I needed to find the bottom. Sixty-five Hershey Kisses later, I found the bottom of my toilet, heaving like Linda Blair. After I flushed, there was but one thing on my mind: chocolate. So it goes.

My internist says that I'm headed for diabetes.

"It's only a matter of time," he said, checking his watch as if he meant hours.

"I want a second opinion," I said.

"Okay," he replied, "but I charge double for that."

Evidently, the cravings are all in my head, but hello, isn't that where I live? My shrink said that she will add this issue to my scroll and that we would get to it shortly before time travel.

I can't care anymore. I would rather be a happy day-glo marker than some scratchy ballpoint. If God wanted me to be thin, sugar wouldn't taste so good. It's nature to obsess. Right now some scientist is recording it formally in his lab: The rats choose chocolate nine times out of ten, but they always feel guilty about it later.

The internist says my stomach will rot, the shrink says my mind will rot, and my mom still calls me sweetie. I can't hear any of them over my chewing. Besides, they don't understand the blood-bending bliss of eating your 64th Hershey Kiss, sick but not sick enough. Never sick enough.


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