Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

My Twinkie Barricade

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

My Twinkie Barricade

Article excerpt

I had eaten an entire box of Twinkies after school, a month's ration of treats, and I was in a world of consequences.

I smelled like nondairy cream filling, my fingers slick with oils. I felt spongy. I had eaten an entire box of Twinkies after school, a month's ration of treats, and I was in a world of consequences. I stood in the kitchen stunned by my own lapse in control and surrounded by the evidence of my savagery. I watched the clock. My father was on the way home to a debris field of plastic wrappers and a boy with near crystalline blood sugar. When he arrived, inflated in his quilted parka, he saw the story quickly, and sighed.

"What were you thinking?" he asked, even though he knew few good answers ever came from lunacy.

I was deranged with energy, racing with guilt and unfamiliar with insanity pleas. It was the year the "Twinkie Defense" was coined by the press during the Harvey Milk murder trial. As my father's hands went to his hips, I made a run for it.

We were living in Iowa City, where I attended Longfellow Elementary. Every month, we conducted nuclear-attack drills at school. We filed into a basement hallway, sat with our backs to the foundation wall and tucked our heads between our knees. This was how we were to hide from the impact of a Soviet atom bomb, and we never wondered at its wisdom. It was a time for believing that we could simply hide from anything.

The house was adult terrain, rooms and closets all known to them, so I ran out into the winter of 1979.

The snow that year was the most on record, and the streets looked like deep, white furrows ripped through the neighborhood. A mountainous pile formed in our backyard as plows cleared the driveway. I had burrowed into the heap, hollowing it with caves, and it was here in the fallen clouds that I tried to disappear. I scurried into the embankment and curled up inside. My father's voice came through the snow, distorted and foreign. It was as if he were speaking into an ocean. He must have assumed that I could hear him, but his language was lost in the frozen water packed between us. He raised his voice.

There in a small cavern stocked with snowballs, I crouched, swollen with preservatives and refrigerated, more sugar entering my blood. …

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