Have you ever heard of a show called My Strange Addiction? For those of you who have: bear with me. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure to view such a marvelous media masterpiece, it is a show featuring people with—you guessed it—strange addictions. But “strange” isn’t quite a powerful enough word to describe all the crazy stuff the people are dependent upon; one woman couldn’t stop drinking laundry detergent, a boy was obsessed with becoming a wolf on a metaphysical level, and there was even a man who was romantically involved with a car. My brief encounter with this program had me wondering, Huh. What’s my strange addiction?
Don’t worry. It’s not bad. It’s just weird in, like, the lamest way. After hours—and I mean hours—of self-reflection and heavy meditation while listening to the soothing sounds of Mongolian Throat Singers, I finally came to find my answer—no—the answer.
Oh, yes. You read it correctly. I said soy sauce. I’m literally cringing as I write these words. Yeah, I’m glad I’m not addicted to something life-threatening like black-tar heroin or sex, but maybe I wouldn’t mind my addiction to be a tad scandalous. The part that really pisses me off is that my palate already sucks overall, so the fact that its weak spot is a salty, soy-based dipping sauce feels like a kick in the nuts. The only vegetable I can stomach without gagging is potatoes, and those don’t really count as vegetables because they aren’t healthy. I’m rather non-picky when it comes to meats, fruits, and dairy products, and the amount of pasta—which is often drenched in soy sauce—that I eat, more than makes up for my suggested grain intake.
The only dietary suggestions on laundry detergent packaging—before the Tide Pods epidemic—are the warning labels, so I wonder how that lady knows when she’s drank too much.
So when I really thought about it some more, I’m not much of a picky eater because I eat pretty much everything in all but one of the major food groups. The problem is, I don’t eat any vegetables, and vegetables come with everything. Whether I’m asking for my Chic-Fil-A Sandwich to be void of pickles, scraping ketchup off of a burger, or ordering white pizzas, I’m a consistent disservice to the restaurant industry. I wish so badly that I liked vegetables. I wish that I could sit down and enjoy a nice salad, or maybe whip up some eggs florentine, but I just can’t force myself. I should give servers a break and stop special ordering all the time, but I keep doing it anyways. Luckily, I’ve gotten to a point where I no longer need soy sauce as a menu modifier.
The boy who identifies as a wolf goes to the restaurant with his parents and orders a slab of raw meat and nothing else. Wolves don’t cook their food, and their steaks certainly don’t come with mashed potatoes and green beans.
I wasn’t only a picky eater as a child, but a stubborn one as well. I couldn’t eat a meal without the black liquid on the side. All I ever wanted to eat were dinosaur chicken nuggets dipped in soy sauce, and if you tried to get me to eat anything else you’d probably have to at least threaten to take away my TV privileges. It was quite the oriental odyssey. A teacher of mine once got so annoyed with my obsession with the condiment that she made me write a report on it:
“Soy sauce is believed to have been created about 2,200 years ago in the Western Han dynasty in China. It is made from a mixture of a fermented soy paste, roasted grain, brine, and a selection of molds. It was originally used to prolong salt supplies because back then salt was expensive. I really like eating food with soy sauce and am glad the Chinese made it.”
I’d like to think that my pickiness has benefitted me in some ways though. I’ve learned how to barter and compromise with individuals in the service industry from a young age, I’m great at making on-the-fly decisions, and I ate extra fruit as a kid, so my immune system is fantastic.
The thing that baffles me the most about the people portrayed on My Strange Addiction is how willing they are to expose their outrageous habits to millions of people. I wouldn’t want to have an hour long episode about my obsession with soy sauce, so why in the hell the guy who humps his car is so excited to share his secret is beyond me. Maybe it’s for the money, or maybe it’s because they are comfortable with who they are regardless of their addictions, or maybe they do it for any number of reasons. I might not know why they choose to share their lives, but I know that it takes guts.
I imagine the man in love with his car driving down the highway. Does he steal a shameless glance at the curvy new Italian model passing by, the same way a married man does?
As for soy sauce and I, I’m sure our relationship will continue to thrive. I still haven’t quite embraced my love for her, often going weeks without seeing each other because we feared being seen together. We are silent lovers, but passionate, nonetheless. She wraps my tongue in salty embrace, sending explosions of ecstasy across my taste buds. Bullied by the other condiments, she was forced into isolation on the top shelf. We had each other, which was enough, but as time went on, she began to dry. I tried to quit cold turkey, but, eventually, I couldn’t control myself. I emptied the rest of her over a heaping vat of spaghetti and felt nothing. I was quenched.
Do I miss her? Do I regret it? No. I’m getting another bottle tomorrow.