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Fiction Coming of Age Funny

I have always been addicted to potato chips. It’s true. The crumpling sound of a bag opening makes me salivate like a Pavlovian dog. Scooping out that first handful makes me perspire. The grease between my fingers shape-shifts me into some kind of wild, heaving creature. And that first bite, well… my eyes couldn’t roll any further back towards the heavens. 


Potato chips are the greatest love affair I’ve ever had; mostly, because I never allow myself to have them. For most of my adult life, I’ve lived in a low carb hell of my own making. My hot pink tape measure is always tucked away in my nightstand, too, ready to monitor my waistline at a moment’s notice. 


I may graze happily on kale and fat free this and that and fucking bird seeds to help keep me trim, but I assure you, the beast in me wants to annihilate chips. I want to indulge in a lot of things, actually. You see, I’m a bit (a lot) of a wild woman wrapped in a picture perfect, Barbie doll avatar. But my humble beginnings weren’t always so sugary-sweet. 


I grew up in a once bustling small town that turned into a trash bin; paint-chipped houses, boarded up small businesses, and roads that hadn’t been paved since the dawn of time. My parents—God love them but—were churned out of the same receptacle. My apple didn’t fall too far from their tree, either. 


I got drunk for the first time at twelve years old off of a bottle of Rev—the “blue” flavored one—and a few swigs of moonshine that likely should have rendered me blind. I was stealing lip gloss and hair elastics from the local pharmacy by the time I was fourteen. I had weird sex with my classmate, Jimmy Outhouse (I wish I could say I was making that up) in the back of his Nissan Altima in the middle of the day when I was sixteen. I remember my monotone voice as I faked it. “Oh, Jimmy, oh.” 


I grew up rebellious and loud, with zero structure, and this laissez-faire upbringing carried over to food. Our cupboards were always filled with disgusting canned glory like Chef Boyardee and Zoodles, and I ate that shit up like an otter smashing molluscs. If you dug a little further back, the shrine of potato chips would reveal itself like a flower opening for the sun. 


We had all the flavors—sour cream and onion, barbecue, salt and vinegar, dill pickle—and it wasn’t uncommon for my parents and I to park our asses in front of the television with each a big bag in our laps. We wouldn’t get up until we’d licked every last crumb off from our fingertips. Chips were its own food group to me, and it never dawned on me that perhaps—like most of my teenage behavior—eating them every single day was…a little gauche. 


That is, until my mother—a woman who wore linen pants so worn out that you could see her underwear through them, along with a faded Henderson’s Toyota sweater—made a rather pointed comment about my physical appearance. 


“You’re getting fat.” She was nonchalant when she said it, too, as though she was reading off a grocery list. 


My body tensed up as though I had just been startled by a poltergeist. Fat?! I gripped the arms of the La-Z-Boy as fiercely as a pit bull holding a bone in its mouth. My palms were sweaty. My pits were sweaty. Every crevice of my alleged fat body was sweaty. My eyes were wide, dumbfounded oceans as I turned my head towards her. 


“Mom! What? Fat?”


She leaned back and looked at me, her brow furrowed that I’d interrupted her episode of Dateline.


“Well! You’ve been eating a lot of chips.”


Having such a “pot, meet kettle” moment with my mother pulled the rug out from under me and left me speechless; I couldn’t catch my breath after that fall. I didn’t know what was worse: the fact that my own mother—who shoved just as much crap down her pie hole as I did—had just insulted me about something so trivial during my vulnerable teenage years. Or, the fact that she had no fashion sense, tact, or standards of beauty for herself, yet had just hurled out such standards towards me. She was like a monkey throwing its own shit at the zoo. 


I left the house later that night with blood rising in my face. A bottle of Iceberg vodka in tow, I met up with my equally degenerate friends for an ATV ride. We got wasted, and as we recklessly sped through the partings in the trees, my mother’s critical voice rang in my head on loop like some kind of maniacal clown: “You’re getting fat. Well! You’ve been eating a lot of chips.” The only thing louder was the sandpaper-on-wood sound of my teeth grinding. 


I stumbled in loudly around 1:00 am, fidgeting senselessly as this newfound poison—mixed in with enough alcohol to knock over a rhino—flowed through my veins. I tried to shake the demon out of me, but the obsessive thought was loud and clear: “Maybe I am fat.” I could have killed someone—or myself—that night with my high risk, selfish and destructive behavior, but my dress size was the real pressing matter. Turns out I was just as much of a self-absorbed hick as my mom. 


The next morning, with a throbbing headache and dried saliva—and probably puke—on my cheek, I went and found that hot pink measuring tape in my mom’s sewing kit. I measured my waist immediately, biting down on my lower lip once I saw the number (which I’m pretty sure was a whopping thirty-two inches). My nervous system snapped like firecrackers. I squinted as I massaged my temples, but my mother’s fucking voice wouldn’t go away: “You’re getting fat.” 


I vowed from that day forward—truth be told—not to be a better person, but to appear like one. Because apparently, our family didn’t care about being accountable for our own shitty behavior or making better choices. Our family cared about one thing: appearances. In spite of my mother, I also swore I would never eat chips again. They became my kryptonite, and I put them on a pedestal—which is exactly where potato chips belong—symbolic of everything I wanted to get away from. Chips were, for better or for worse, my favorite food, but I never touched the things again. That is, until several years later, when I lost all control. 


I graduated high school and got a proverbial one way ticket away from our one horse town and everything about who I once was. I became a paralegal, because that’s the role Megan Markle played on “Suits” before she left acting to become a fucking Duchess. I dyed my mousy brown hair bleach blonde. I started wearing high-waisted pants and peplum blouses. I held my spine up as straight as a broomstick when I walked. I purposely spoke quietly (which felt as heavy and effortful as hauling around some kind of stone of triumph shackled to my ankle). I said “please” and “thank you” and agreed to whatever anyone ever said, all while eating my cobb salads, one equally polite bite at a time. 


I think that's why Blake, the guy I locked eyes with at our firm's luncheon and who asked me to be his bride eighteen months later, was initially drawn to me. I was a poised woman (hahaha!), and a perfect match for his crisp-collared shirt, after-shave wearing, successful lawyer self. I said yes to his proposal and we eloped and got married on an ocean side cliff in Laguna Beach. Our ceremony was something out of a magazine spread, yet I felt like some kind of court jester dressed in Vera Wang. Whatever the case, I had met the Ken to my Barbie; the persona I had been curating ever since the day my mother told me I was fat and ate too many chips. It sounds insane whenever I say it out loud, because it is. 


I never told Blake about my whole chip situation. I barely talked about my mother or who I begrudgingly really was at my core. But the imperfections in my otherwise porcelain life started to reveal themselves. There’s that whole expression “The cracks are what let the light in,” or what have you. Well not for me. No “light” was coming in. I was just getting closer and closer to releasing the fucking Kraken. 


“Bought these for whenever we have company. They were on sale,” Blake said casually, unknowingly dangling a family sized bag of mesquite flavored chips in front of me like some kind of sacrificial lamb. 


“Get those away from me,” I was shrill, seconds before physically removing myself from the room like an antelope escaping a hyena. 


Blake found me in the living room, licking my thumb and aggressively flipping the pages of “Ocean Home Magazine”. 


“Babe. You ok?” He was leaning in the doorway, and judging by his tone, he knew the answer to his question. 


My hillbilly, chip-eating heathen self was bubbling at the surface, but I breathed her deep, all the way down to my asshole. I lowered my magazine and faked a doting smile for my husband. 


“Of course. I just really don’t like chips. Nobody does.” I glided out of the living room, planting a kiss on his five o’clock shadow, knowing perfectly well that everyone in the known universe likes chips. 


I hid in the bathroom, splashing cold water on my face. My mascara ran everywhere, but I didn't care. My fists clenched on the marble counter top, my guts felt like a pressure cooker, and it wasn’t just because of the chips. Our parents—as in, Blake’s physician, country club member parents and my Bingo hall, bootlegger frequenting parents—were coming to spend the weekend with us. Vaporizing into the atmosphere was starting to feel like a solid plan. 


“Hi Deborah,” I said, greeting Blake’s Jane Fonda look-alike mother at the door. (May I note, the pronunciation of her name was “Duh-boar-ah".) 


“Hi darling, hello, hello.” She always sounded fabulous. 


We kissed each other twice on each cheek. Blake’s father, Roderick, then gave me a militantly firm handshake. They both walked in and embraced their son. 


Meanwhile, I thought I was about to puke on the front porch as I saw my parents’ two-door, red Pontiac Grand Am pulling up around the bend. I started hearing my mother’s looping clown voice again, haunting me from the big-top vault of my past: “You’re getting fat. Well! You’ve been eating a lot of chips.”


They pulled up, and both got out of the car, slamming their doors shut behind them. My mom had a “Margaritaville” visor on her head, and my dad had dried paint stains all over his jeans. My left eyelid started to twitch. 


“Hey! Mom. Dad.”


Had I not been so disciplined with all my pelvic floor exercises, I probably would have pissed myself, then and there. 


The six of us all sat in silence around the dinner table. Only the scratching of our forks against our plates filled the room. I had prepared grilled chicken over frisée and arugula, and sprinkled goat cheese and candied bacon over top. It was all drizzled with a homemade dijon vinaigrette. The table was also adorned with healthy, delicious sides—wild rice pilaf, maple glazed carrots, roasted eggplant with tahini—and my knee bounced uncontrollably under the table as I watched my mother push her food around her plate.


“Did you really make all this?” My mother asking that question officially set off a timer. I was a ticking-time bomb. 


I carefully dabbed my mouth with my cloth napkin.


“Yes. I did.”


My mother shook her head under the brim of her fucking Jimmy buffet hat. 


“You need more carbs. Potatoes! Whatever happened to you liking potatoes? And bread? You know,” she said, turning her attention towards Deborah, “Krystal used to be a big eater. Just like her mother!”


Also, did I mention that my name is Krystal with a K?


The eleven that formed between Deborah’s eyebrows was only matched by my mother’s boisterous laugh. She was right. I did love to eat, just like her, and as the cortisol caused my blood to pound against the walls of my veins, I couldn’t stop thinking about the family sized bag of mesquite chips in the cupboard. I wanted to stress eat the shit out of them.


Blake attempted at breaking the awkwardness.


“Hey! For the movie tonight, I bought some chips-”


“No!” My chair screeched on the hardwood as I stood up. 


Everyone stared at me with their mouths agape. I’m pretty sure mine was, too. I cleared my throat and slowly sat back down, pulling myself in closer to the table.


“I mean… No. We can’t have those. I’m, uh….saving them. For when… we go on a little road trip next. It would be nice to… have those… in the car.”


No one said anything, and the chips were not mentioned again.


That night in bed, it was 3:43 am and I still had not slept a wink. Blake was snoring beside me, but was superseded by my mother’s voice, both past and present, ringing in my ears: “You’re getting fat. Well! You’ve been eating a lot of chips. Krystal used to be a big eater. Just like her mother!” I swore a circus theme song was playing in the background, too. 


I bit the inside of my cheek. My stomach growled. My fingers and toes danced under the covers. From across the house, on a separate floor, that goddamn family sized bag of mesquite potato chips was beating in the cupboard, like something out of Edgar Allan Poe’s, “A Tell-Tale Heart”. 


“You’re getting fat. Well! You’ve been eating a lot of chips. Krystal used to be a big eater. Just like her mother!”


My bed sheets were drenched from my distress. I couldn’t take it any longer. I whipped myself out of bed, the vein in my forehead bulging as I made my way to the kitchen cupboard. 


I was rabid and panting as I swung the cupboard door open. I threw everything that was in my way, straight onto the ceramic tiles. I took the giant bag of mesquite gloriousness and ripped it open. I didn’t give a fuck that it was upside down. I started shoving fistful after fistful of potato chips into my mouth. A thousand crumbs stuck to my damp decolletage. I shoved my entire face in the bag, just about motor boating the thing as chips got stuck in my nose. I sat on the ground, turned the whole bag upside down, and the chips that missed my mouth poured onto me and all over the floor like confetti. I split the bag fully, straight down the middle, and licked the silver plastic up and down with the full length of my tongue. After nearly two decades of repressing, I had finally, at long last, unleashed the beast.


My back against the wall, my breathing was as heavy as someone who’d just been fucked sideways, ten times over. My legs were splayed out, and the empty chip bag laid on my thighs, ripped open and licked clean. I was sweaty and covered in crumbs, and the right spaghetti strap of my satin tank top had fallen off my shoulder. My right tit was flopped right out.


And that’s when I saw Deborah. She’d been sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea the entire time, only illuminated by the dim glow of the light from above the oven. Her jaw could not have been dropped any closer to the floor. 


My mouth as dry as an Australian summer, I swallowed the grapefruit sized lump in my throat. At a complete loss for words, I held up the remains of the empty chip bag as some kind of peace offering and said, “I’m so sorry Deborah. Did you want some?”

December 13, 2023 20:07

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9 comments

Michał Przywara
02:34 Dec 21, 2023

Ha! This is hilarious :) I love the voice on this narrator - very strong, very opinionated. Great struggle too. We knew she was going to break down eventually, but the way it happened was magnificent. Perfect ending :) Thanks for sharing!

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Danielle LeBlanc
16:22 Dec 24, 2023

Thanks so much for reading! And for the kind comments and feedback :) CHIPS FOR LIFE!!! hahaha. Happy Holidays! Look forward to reading more of your work as well!

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Mary Bendickson
18:34 Dec 20, 2023

Simply delicious! Thanks for liking my 'Words' Thanks for the follow.

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Danielle LeBlanc
00:13 Dec 21, 2023

Thanks for reading! And of course! I really enjoyed “Words”!

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08:31 Dec 20, 2023

That was the most sultry description of eating potato chips I've ever read. The funniest thing I've read this week haha. I love the humor in the whole story, and all the quirky details are magic. And its all so relatable. Keep up the good work, I can see you writing a great novel someday.

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Danielle LeBlanc
00:13 Dec 21, 2023

Hahaha thanks! Why eat chips any other way? ;) Thanks so much for reading and for the feedback! And wow thanks so much re: the novel… I’ve actually been working on one for two years!!! I’ll check out more of your stuff too thanks again! Happy chip eating…

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18:12 Dec 18, 2023

Oh God that ending.!!! Is it ok to laugh??? This was so well written, so real, all the characters and situations. Utterly believable and honest. Wasn't expecya mic drop ending but I love it. Excellent! Best I've read this prompt

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Danielle LeBlanc
00:33 Dec 19, 2023

It is CERTAINLY ok to laugh ;) Thanks for reading and for the comments! I actually based this story off a stand up comedy bit I wrote and performed back in 2019. What a despicable woman with a tit flopped out, covered in chips!!! hehehehe.. Thanks so much for the kind feedback! Glad you enjoyed it! I'll check out your work as well!!!

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07:20 Dec 19, 2023

Brilliant!! It works so well because its all so heartfelt right up until the blow out at the end. I would also be weak when it comes to chips as well so I completely got it! :)

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