Saratoga Apple

Alistair Cooke once said, It would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby. To stuff at least two cider donuts from Saratoga Apple into your mouth while they’re hot, even if you’re driving.

That last item may not actually be original to his list.

The obesity crisis and the diabetes crisis and the my-pants-dig-into-me-until-I’m-sore crisis are all real and must be taken seriously. But not so seriously as to discourage a person from experiencing subversive pleasures. And stopping at Saratoga Apple on the way home from work and pretending to just happen to notice their cider donuts being freshly made is a subversive act. These donuts are not just brimming with fat, they secrete it into your hands. They are not only full of sugar, they sprinkle it on the fat that's on your hands, forcing you against all dignity to lick off both substances. They are the opposite of nutritious, and as any dictionary will tell you, the opposite of nutritious is delirium.

I was driving home from work one day last fall through Schuylerville so I could stop at Olde Saratoga Home and Garden. This was a safe itinerary because there is nothing to eat at Olde Saratoga Home and Garden. I had been following the plan all day, no snacking, no flipping through online pastry recipes, no grazing in our secretary’s chocolate drawer.

Then I saw the neon Saratoga Apple sign, and the virus known as bad eating latched neatly into my DNA. It's autumn, I thought, and it goes by so fast, and I would like some apples at home and I just want to be at an orchard this time of year. I want to see the pumpkins and gourds and stalks and the little-country-store crafts and homemade jellies. If I had been with someone, those are the words I would have conjured.

In reality, I didn’t care if all of those emblems of Autumn in Upstate had gone extinct. I only cared that there was a strong likelihood of donuts being made fresh.

They were indeed. I ordered two, sedately, probably not appearing desperate or dangerous. Probably no one would know how hard I was trying to contain my writhing impatience as the cook indolently packaged them and took my money. She may have wondered why I let her keep so much change, and likely could not know that I was in full prey mode at that point; the sooner our interaction was done, the less likely that anyone got hurt.

Safely back in my car (where no one can see me do anything), I pulled into traffic onto Route 29, and slipped my hand precisely into the bag. That the donuts were burning hot and oily as a pizza pan barely registered with my nerve endings. I only reacted with alarm when the first donut broke as I lifted it to my mouth and half of it fell onto my lap. I moved my legs together with an agility I don't normally have, and saved the piece from falling to the floor, where it would have been much harder to retrieve and eat anyway.

Evidently my savoring of each successive bite and the bodily maneuverings I did to avoid losing a single crumb caused me to do a certain amount of weaving on the road. One doesn’t realize such a thing in an altered state. Saratoga Apple cider donuts have a composition that is not definable: a light and tender interior despite a rich, definitive flavor; the sugar-crusty outside so wet you're sure it's syrup; its ability to be both substantial and melty on the tongue. The triggering of one’s senses thus is not congruent with driving heavy equipment.

When I saw the flashing police lights, I had no choice but to pack the second donut into my mouth while it was still hot. (Only an amateur would leave it in the bag for later, cold.) Like a skilled pilot landing on the Hudson, I determined that I had just enough time to chew and swallow the second donut before I had to open the window for the cop who would, if luck was with me, accuse me of texting.

I had made a slight miscalculation in that when he asked, "May I see your license and registration, sir?" my mouth was still rather full, and he must have presumed I was either mocking him or gathering nuts for the winter. Either way he issued me a ticket for erratic driving, and, mercifully, did not make me take a Breathalyzer or walk the line, for who knows how badly I would have performed on either of those in the midst of such a glucose spike. Handing me the ticket, he must have presumed I was angry when I yanked it from him, but it was not anger at all, rather a reflexive movement when I saw on my hand a remaining spot of sugar-coated fat. The police officer wasn't much of a talker, which was a good thing, because it didn't give me an opportunity to defend my driving as the consequence of these Siren donuts, or to admit to the long depression I had gone through after the Krispy Kreme in Latham had closed.

Afterward, I was tempted--since the Law had broken up my quality time with the second donut--to turn back to the orchard and purchase one more, which I, having learned my lesson about driving while euphoric, would find a deserted parking lot to eat in.

But I didn't. Health is an ongoing war, and one must stay militant, not let one weak moment of joy become who we are.