There are things in life you can’t run from. We all have weaknesses, but luckily we also have distractions to keep these weaknesses at bay, to keep them from gaining the upper hand. But then there are those things that are relentless. As if they have a mind of their own. As if they know how hard you’re running. As if they’re a step ahead of you every time.
My weakness is an Israeli peanut butter snack called Bamba. Think of those fluffy packaging peanuts, except that they actually taste like peanuts. Think of those orange cylinders that melt on your tongue and become paste with each chew. Think of greasy fingers coated in sticky peanut powder. You tell yourself you won’t lick them clean, but you’re fooling yourself. You suck those peanut butter fingers like a straw slurps up a line of cocaine. You’re not really in control at that point. Not anymore. You stare at your hand like it belongs to someone else. You want to drop the bag, but you can’t. There’s no stopping until the bag is done, and there’s no relief when that happens either. You feel like your stomach is coated. Your mouth feels like it’s made out of hot, burning plastic. Peanut butter in your teeth. Peanut butter on your hands. Peanut butter on your phone. Peanut butter in your nose from when you used a tissue. Peanut butter. Peanut butter everywhere.
There’s a little baby on the bag, a mascot of sorts. A grinning, bucktoothed infant, smiling with beady eyes, goading you to take another bite, just one more handful. Those black, unblinking eyes. This crack baby, it’s witnessing your failure. It’s witnessing your weakness. And it’s smiling. Those big letters on the package, that one word: Bamba. If it could talk, it would be screaming. Oh, how it shrieks.
In Israel, kids eat Bamba growing up. Studies show that this helps prevent allergies to peanut butter in the future. It’s a wild idea, but I’m not impressed. I’m not excited. Me, I’m disgusted. It’s disturbing to think of kids already hooked on this. The idea that it’s some sort of cure for allergies is perverse. It’s like hearing that eating raw vomit can cure heart disease. It’ll save lives, but our dignity won’t stick around for a second helping. I don’t know; maybe you find the whole thing very inspirational. I had to watch three episodes of The Office to escape the thought.
That’s the thing. I try to run. I try to escape it. But those horrible eyes burn holes through the back of my head. That baby in his flower vase diaper is watching me. It knows I can’t help myself. It knows that it’s the thing I can’t truly run from.
Even as I shake my head to rid myself of the thought, even as I click play on the fourth episode, it waits.