Monday, February 25, 2008

A taste of The Thrill

Thought I'd share an excerpt of The Thrill of the Chaste today. The following is from Chapter 1, "Not the Same Old Song." Incidentally, since moving to the Washington, D.C., area, I have neither been able to locate Cheez Doodles nor an acceptable fat-free bran-muffin alternative. Currently the devil on my shoulder tries to get me to eat peanut-butter M&Ms and the angel tries to get me to opt for a Trader Joe's blood orange. With no further ado, from my book:

All my adult life, I've struggled with my weight. When I'm walking home at the end of the day, there's nothing I want more than a bag of Cheez Doodles or malted-milk balls. If I'm trying to slim down—which is most of the time—it's hard, really hard, to think of why I can't have what I'm craving.

The little devil on my left shoulder is saying, "Get the Cheez Doodles. You'll be satisfied, and you won't gain weight. Even if you do gain, it'll be less than a pound—you can lose it the next day."

And you know what? He's right. If I look at it in a vacuum, one indiscretion is not going to do any damage that can't be undone.

Then the little angel on my right shoulder speaks up. "Uh-uh. If you buy those Cheez Doodles, you know what's going to happen."

"I'll get orange fingerprints on the pages of the novel I'm reading tonight?" I reply.

The angel lets that one go by. "You'll buy them again tomorrow night," he nags. "And the next night.

"Remember what happened during the fall of your freshman year of high school," the angel goes on, "when the student clubs held after-school bake sales every day? Remember how you discovered that if you waited around long enough, all the goodies would be discounted 'til you could get five Toll House cookies for a quarter?"

"Please—" I groan. I know where this is going. The devil on my left shoulder is pulling my hair in the direction of the snack-foods aisle.

"And remember," the angel continues, smelling victory, "how your jeans kept getting tighter and tighter? And you had to—"

"I know," I say, exasperatedly.

"You had to lie down to zip them up," he says triumphantly. "Finally, one by one, you busted the fly on every pair of jeans you owned."

By that point, the devil has usually fled, and I am left looking for a nice, dry, fat-free, high-fiber bran muffin. But I am not happy. Quite the contrary—I feel deprived.

That's how I used to feel before I understood the meaning of chastity—when I was following friends' and relatives' advice to "stop looking." I knew some of the negative reasons for forgoing dates with men who were out for casual sex—such encounters would make me feel used and leave me lonelier than before—but I lacked positive reasons.

To lose weight without feeling deprived takes more than just listening to the warnings of the angel on my shoulder. It takes a positive vision. I have to imagine how I'll look and feel far into the future—not just tomorrow, but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I have to widen my perspective and see the cumulative effect of temptation: every time I give in, it wears down my resistance, but every time I resist, I grow stronger.

The tomorrow principle requires that vision to be able to see how chastity will help me become the strong, sensitive, confident woman I so long to be. I hate acting out of desperation, feeling as if I have to give of myself physically because it's the only way to reach a man emotionally. And I hate feeling so lonely that I have to take caresses and kisses from a man who essentially views me as a piece of meat—a rare and attractive piece of meat, deserving of the highest respect, but meat nonetheless. I long with all my heart to be able to look beyond my immediate desires, conducting myself with the grace and wisdom that will ultimately bring me fulfillment not just for a night, but for a lifetime.

Get The Thrill live at one of my upcoming appearances in Florida, South Carolina, Notre Dame, and beyond.