I am pleased to have as my guest today Kathleen Irene Paterka and to participate in the blog tour for her new book, Secrets of The Royal Wedding Chapel. Kathleen is an Amazon bestselling author of numerous women’s fiction novels including Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. While her novel The Other Wife is set in Chicago, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel takes place in Las Vegas. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel. Today we are talking about Halloween. Please help me welcome Kathleen.
Things That Go Burp in the Night
Halloween is a great time for ghosts and goblins, freaks and frights, spooks and scares, and things that go burp in the night.
Burp? Wait, was that a typo? Didn’t I mean ‘things that go bump in the night’?
Nope, I meant burp. As in: I spent all of my post-trick-or-treat Halloween nights burping from all the candy I gobbled up. Trick-or-treating door-to-door has been a staple of American tradition for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, the focus on Halloween was all about trick-or-treating. Halloween has since been hijacked by adults, and is now the second most popular holiday of the year (Christmas remains #1). Spooky decorations and adult-themed Halloween parties gain in popularity every year. But kids still love trick-or-treating. FREE CANDY! What’s not to love about free candy?
I ate a lot of candy when I was a kid, and Halloween was one of my favorite nights of the year. We used to carry pillow sacks to haul around the candy we collected. Pillow sacks were great; they didn’t break like the regular brown paper sacks from the grocery store. At the end of our trick-or-treating night, my sister and I would dump our pillow sack hauls all over the living room rug and sort through our candy. I usually ignored the candy corn, the wrapped hard candy, the individual Hershey kisses, and went straight for the hard stuff: the little candy bars, especially Butterfingers. I’d devour each and every one of the candy bars before I went to bed. And then the burping began.
Back then, I wasn’t worried about calories. I was eating the candy as fast as I could. And guess what happened? I gained weight. As in, I was one of the chubby kids. A plump baby, a chubby kid, and a fat teenager. By the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 300 lbs. Granted, when you’re 5’11” like I am, it’s easier to carry the weight… but people still noticed. Most of all, I noticed. And I hated myself for being fat. I swore to myself that someday, once I lost the weight, I’d write a book about what it felt like to live fat in a thin world.
It took some years before I managed to achieve those goals. First I had to lose the weight. Part of it (most of it) happened while I was in college. I met my future husband, we married, and eventually had a daughter. Life was good… if you were on the outside looking in. But from my viewpoint (inside, looking out), I was still messed up. I couldn’t deal with the constant dieting, the yo-yo binge eating. Here’s how bad things got: when our daughter was little and would go trick-or-treating, I’d ‘steal’ her Halloween candy after she went to bed. “Who ate my candy?” she’d ask the next morning when she checked her stash. “You must have done it before you went to sleep,” I’d reply. Do you know what it feels like, lying to your own child? The guilt kept me eating. I couldn’t tell my daughter the truth. I couldn’t even tell myself the truth. I ‘played’ with an extra 35 lbs. And finally, one day, after I grew sick and tired of being ‘sick and tired’, I finally said, “No more.”
That was the day – May 29, 1989 – when I turned my back on sugar. That was the end of my Halloween candy binges. And that was the day I started writing the book that had been in my heart for years.
Fatty Patty was my debut novel. It’s the story of Patty Perreault, an overweight school teacher who’s been looking for love at the bottom of a cookie bag all her life. When one gorgeous hunk of a man takes up residence behind the desk of the adjoining 5th grade classroom, Patty decides it’s time for some serious dieting. Add an overweight accountant with romance on his mind to the mix cooks up a recipe for a dieting and dating disaster. Patty needs to learn to put down the fork and give her heart a try if she ever hopes to become the woman she wants to be …emotionally and physically.
Does Patty figure out how to put down the fork? I’ve included an excerpt from the novel for you to see how she struggles with food. Patty loves her chocolate. Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy. Putting down the fork isn’t easy. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. But for today, I’m here to tell you that putting down the fork made a huge difference in my life. I lost the extra pounds 27 years ago, and they no longer haunt me like ‘candy-ghosts-of-Halloweens-past’. No more burping my way through Halloween (or any other holidays). I’m free of food obsession. I can wheel my cart down the candy aisle of the grocery store without being afraid of what might happen. Not only am I sane and happy, I’ve also written five other novels; my latest book, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, is an October 2015 Booktrope Editions release. For today, I’m living a life beyond my wildest dreams, and every day is worth it.
Halloween candy tastes good, and gives you a sugar high… but nothing tastes as good as being high on life.
I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. If chocolate is like a drug, I probably qualify for Chocoholics Anonymous. But first, I’d have to be willing to give it up. Which I’m not. I’m not an addict. Besides, everyone deserves a treat now and then. And I’ve been good for so long—how many days now?— and I’ve only lost four pounds.
Tyler offering me that cookie on the playground earlier this morning started the ball rolling. All day long, I couldn’t let go of the thought of chocolate. And instead of hitting the pool on my way home from school, I detoured to an out-of-the-way party store on the other side of town where I grabbed a six-pack of my favorite candy bars. Why? There’s got to be a reason. But at the time, I didn’t want to think about the why. I didn’t want to think, period.
I just wanted the chocolate.
The first candy bar was gone as soon as I hit the car, before I even fastened my seatbelt. I barely tasted it as it slid down my throat and it only whetted my appetite for more. I ripped into the lush caramel and rich dark chocolate of the second one as I nosed the car out of the parking lot. I gnawed through the third wrapper with my teeth as I pulled into traffic.
And now that Priscilla’s finally off to bed, the other three are waiting.
I creep up the stairs, school bag in hand, and slip through my bedroom door. I throw the lock, then flop on the bed in the darkness. Moonlight filtering through the window is my only witness as I peel the wrapper off the fourth candy bar, settle back in the pillows and savor the lush sweetness filling my mouth. I’ve deprived myself far too long. The second gooey bite is even better than the first. Chocolate bliss. I’ve died and gone to heaven.
Polishing off the fifth candy bar takes a little longer. The craving is gone and I force myself to finish. I’m in no rush to unwrap the sixth candy bar. My stomach feels queasy. Maybe it would be better to stash it somewhere and save it for later. But if I don’t eat it now, that one last candy bar will be staring me in the face tomorrow morning… a big gooey reminder of what I’ve done. I rip off the wrapper and stare at the chocolate. Tomorrow, I promise myself. Starting tomorrow, I’ll put myself on a brand new diet. Starting with breakfast.
Food. Ugh. My stomach lurches and I drop the candy bar. My breath reeks of chocolate and I stumble into the tiny bathroom off my bedroom. I use my toothbrush like a weapon, attacking the enemy sugar on my teeth, scrubbing away the contraband. I swish water back and forth under my tongue, around my teeth, spit it in the sink. Somehow I find the courage to face myself in the mirror. It’s not a pretty picture. Hollow, bloodshot eyes; mascara staining my face. I don’t recognize this person.
What is wrong with me? Why in God’s name did I do this? What happened to my resolve? What happened to my dreams of being thin?
What would Nick think if he saw me like this?
No more chocolate. Never again.
I pull off my clothes, drop them in a heap on top of the bathroom scales. Pulling a cotton nightgown over my head, I shuffle back into the bedroom, flop on my bed, and set the alarm. School again tomorrow. If only I didn’t have to go.
If only I hadn’t given in. Why did I crack? Now I have to start all over again.
What a horrible feeling.
But not as horrible as knowing when tomorrow dawns, there’ll still be that one leftover candy bar taunting me from the bedside table. Suddenly I grab it, crinkle the wrapper around the candy so I won’t smell the chocolate, then toss it in the trash, burying it under some used Kleenex and an old magazine.
I hit the light and try to settle down. Nick’s face dances in the darkness. What is it with him? Why is he being so nice to me? I don’t know anything about men. The three guys I dated in college turned out to be losers. So what do I do now? I’ve never chased a guy in my life. And Nick isn’t just any guy. He’s gorgeous and available—the type who attracts women wherever he goes. Nick is in the big leagues and way beyond my reach.
I punch the pillow and flop on my side. If only I looked like Priscilla. If only I could lose ten pounds. If only I had the courage to try.
But I’ll never find it if I don’t get myself back on track.
And back on a diet.
Brand new diet. Brand new beginning. Brand new me.
I sit up straight in bed. Damned if I want to wake up tomorrow, knowing that last candy bar is hanging around to haunt me.
I fumble through the wastebasket in the darkness. My fingers snag the wrapper, then curl around the candy. I take one bite, force down another. The craving is gone. I’ve already brushed my teeth and the chocolate tastes like chalk. I choke down the last bite, throw away the wrapper, and head back into the bathroom for one more bout with my toothbrush.
This hasn’t been the best day. I’ve broken my diet, upset Priscilla, shamed myself… and all for what? Why did I buy that chocolate in the first place? It’s not like I even wanted it.
What I really wanted was cookies…
Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen. I love the pictures.
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