The Cookie Monster

The Cookie Monster

Understanding our addictions is an essential part of the process to overcome their call.  Hello, I'm Captain Richard Bradley, and I'm a baked food addict.  If you invite me to your home and offer, cookies, I'm going to accept and ask for a beverage to wash them down. It didn't help to have a daughter that transformed our kitchen into a cupcake war-room either.
The earliest days of my addiction were fostered by a mother that loved her kitchen and a beautiful aunt that baked next door.  I suppose it started innocent enough, offering grade school boys a snack while we watched afternoon reruns of Gilligan's Island and Get Smart in bean bag chairs on the den floor.

As if it wasn't bad enough, our female peers sold "Thin Mints" and "Peanut Butter Sandwich" cookies door-to-door once a year in a processed form that quickly completed our transformation from natural to cheap, easy fixes easily purchased down the street with a quick bike ride to the convenience store.  Scouting was teaching our youngest children how to peddle their addictive substances in our neighborhoods right under our parent's nose and often with consent.  Many of the local dads were becoming hooked at work and spending their hard earned cash while explaining to the family, "It's for a good cause, Girl Scouts!"  Secretaries were pushing bosses hard to meet the demands and quotas dictated by GSOA.  The market was ripe in the '70s; the supply chain kept full.  Overages purchased by eager parents supplied freely to church friends and neighbors.

My addiction finally came to an ugly end during an unlikely encounter with a small passenger and angry parents on one of my fishing charters a few years back.  It seemed innocent but quickly exposed how far I'd fallen into debauchery.

What started as a routine daily fishing trip, I boarded husband and wife with their eight-year-old son at the ramp and quickly launched into a six-hour trip that wouldn't end well.  This unfortunate event would transform my behavior and possibly my career in short order.

I'd come close to reaching my all-time weight of nearly two hundred pounds, I was miserable, and people were starting to talk.  Friends were not inviting us over, and if they did, no food offered.  It was awkward when faced with the reality that even my closest friends were asking or commenting on my appearance.  "Can you still surf?" asked Andre, or "Have you considered Nutri-System?"  Nothing brought me to the recognition that a child did on a fishing trip while live-baiting kingfish off Port Canaveral.

My addiction finally came to an ugly end during an unlikely encounter with a small passenger and angry parents on one of my fishing charters a few years back.  It seemed innocent but quickly exposed how far I'd fallen into debauchery.

Quickly gathering bait on the beach, we headed toward the closest reef where I deployed bait and eagerly watched skyrocketing kingfish explode on our offerings.  The fishing was fantastic, and we promptly limited out.  I was out-of-breath and needed to recover.  My plan was simple; I'd done my job, the next couple of hours I needed to pace our fishing, get some variety and provide a relaxing way to enjoy the remainder of the morning.  The following minutes would be a disaster.

Mrs. Goretski had six children, five pretty daughters and a son, Joey.  They lived down the street on a canal front home where her daughters sold candy bars for the Merritt Island High School band.  Joey had learned to twist oreo cookies, getting to the cream filling and dipping the remaining bookends in milk.  As children, I thought this a waste of time and just grabbed handfuls (usually five or six at a time) and systematically gobbled down the morsels without fanfare, only occasionally stopping for a sip of milk.  Mine was a much more effective way, and I hated when people played or picked at their food, it seemed rude and uncouth.  We could down a whole package of Oreos in minutes and what seemed innocent exposed who was "rude and uncouth."  I downed six processed cookies to one of Joey's, which brings me back to the fishing charter experience.

Because of the nature of this story and inhumaneness of the Captain, the names of my charter will remain anonymous to protect the innocent.

Facebook and other social media had yet to mature to its full glory, but one post theme that get's credit for my downward spiral has always been food post.  I'm not sure where this began, but one of my childhood Baptist friends who's initials used to be BB (becoming BD after she married), often post recipes for baked goods and yummies.  The morning of my charter started by reading one of her post on "Homemade Snickerdoodles."  Addicts often blame others for their problems, and I'm aware that BD carries no responsibility for my demise, but it's comforting to know that her husband has a recipe in a favorite local restaurant named after him.  We started hosting Taco Tuesdays at our home because of our Baptist roots and casserole dinners.

The utter cruelty of what happened that morning on the boat led to a child's tears and his parent's horror.  The event led me on a journey into my past to jog painful memories when and where I might have gone wrong with others in similar fashion.  Did I do this often and how could this affect my relationship with my friends and family? Gina has often commented on how quickly I ate and talking with my mouth full at the table, but I had no idea as to the lows I'd gone.

Returning to the boat, little Johnny (we'll call him Johnny) approached the rocket launcher bench where I was tending to the wheel and watching the swimming baits. He offered a freshly opened flat of Oreo cookies which I quickly accepted and laid on the upholstered seat while simultaneously dipping into and grabbing between my thumb and middle finger five cookies while commencing to throw down my throat as fast as you'd put coins in a vending machine.  I was multitasking now; eating cookies, twisting rigs, steering, checking the sounder, grabbing more cookies and watching for a strike between gulps for air and swallows.   Little Johnny was cute, offering the Oreo package with two outheld hands as if he was Oliver asking for more porage, his innocence was about to be defiled.

There are only three rows of 15 Oreos to a pack which rounded off nicely to about nine helpings of five cookies, but who's counting? (I sure wasn't)

Our good friends Barry and Christine purchased a specially designed feeding bowl to slow down feeding habits for their dog Cayman who woofs down her food too fast.  I often thought, "I need something like this," or possibly electroshock therapy to remind me to slow down!  My wife's nagging at the table wasn't working! I needed intervention, and it came from an eight-year-old child and his parent's glare.

I hadn't noticed the women on the gunnel of my boat giving me the "evil eye" until after the last handful of Oreo's were gone. YES!  ALL gone, single handily from a human Oreo consuming vacuum that could suck down rows of freshly opened cookies in moments.

It was ugly, I had tried to smile, but the black crust on my teeth did not impress little Johnny's mother.  My gaze turned down to my horror as Johnny's bottom lip was quivering and he asked. "Captain Richard, you like Oreo cookies don't you?"

There was no escape; I was trapped on a boat and confronted with myself, my paying customers and their innocent child that had been witness to... well, an animal that could eat faster than some imagined cartoon character like Homer Simpson slurping pizza, all I needed was a beer.  I was astonished at myself and wondering how I was going to turn this into something positive when Johnnies mom clasped him around his chest from behind and pulled him away as if he was the intended next bite.

Struggling with what to say next, I gulped and proceeded to lick my teeth clean before managing an apology that seemed inadequate. "I'm sorry, I don't know what overcame me, I, uh, I didn't mean... "

To her credit, the mom came to my rescue and said, "Well, all those calories we burned pulling in those fish, I suppose you were hungry? (with a nervous smile).  "I suppose so," I replied, "but I guess I have a problem with cookies" and added, "I'm a Cookie Monster on the boat if you ever manage to come back on board, don't feed the monster!"

I've lost 25 pounds, and I still have an addiction to baked goods.  A couple of years later I would have another embarrassing moment as a young preteen would board my boat and offer me five packages of Oreo cookies with a smiling face and announce "I brought you some cookies Captain Richard, I know how much you like them."  Now I was the one with the quivering lip and quickly hugged Johnny, his mom and welcomed them aboard.


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