Adventures in Bingeing
Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Adventures in Bingeing

lynn-head-shot
Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I have been considerably “under the weather” lately, and it may be some time till I’m able to smile again. Seems it will take two weeks to get approval from my insurance in order to get the cortisone shot in my neck (aka trigger-point injection) which may relieve the pinched nerve that is causing so much pain. Until then, I will try not to kill anyone!
So what does one do while trying to forget about a giant pain in the neck? Sit around on the sofa much of the day; lie in bed propped up on a half dozen pillows? Well, binge watch, of course!
Although I have certainly watched hours and hours of television, alternating ice packs and heating pads on other occasions, yesterday I discovered  the “Kid’s Baking Championship.” I started watching in the early evening, and seven hours later, at 2 a.m., I finally saw 13 year-old Rebecca from Graham, Texas, a competitive cheerleader and amazing baker, win the $25,000 Grand Prize!
Although Rebecca had my vote from the very first challenge, I did waffle a bit over the cutest and smartest little ten-year-old named Peggy who had to stand on tiptoe to reach the countertop. Peggy made the most gorgeous eclairs with practiced ease, and talked about things like ganache and mascarpone and who could whip up gorgeous French meringues by heart, multitasking like she had four hands.
Then there was Alex, who besides being a concert violinist, is a competitive tennis player, and who also plays soccer, and bakes desserts for his family. Many of these concoctions I could not pronounce, nor had I ever heard of some of them. He is eleven years old. I never saw Alex or any of these wunderkinds refer to a recipe, not once, although I cannot imagine making the perfect “sponge” or a “dense chocolate Italian caprese” without one!
Like I wasn’t suffering enough, I put myself through seven hours of tempting torture, without a single candy bar or cookie. I promise! Bill and I were reverse-bingeing, meaning we were on the Three Day Military diet at a time when comfort food would have been sooooo welcome!
Of course, bingeing is nothing new. Used to it meant drinking far too much alcohol in a relatively short period of time and paying a very heavy price, aka, a killer hangover, or in some tragic circumstances, even death. My friends and family have talked about TV bingeing, most recently a good friend binged (is that correct spelling?) six seasons of Downton Abbey in one weekend. Isn’t that something like thirty hours?! And I even know someone who binge-watched three seasons of The Walking Dead. I would imagine they turned into a zombie after so much violent, gory display.
I did get awfully sleepy about midnight, but I was so invested in these talented, dedicated and extremely creative kids that I made myself stay awake, listening to the descriptions of the crazy challenges, and watching the completed baked goods being devoured by the two judges. I would open my sleepy eyes every now and then to view the completed torte, or tart, or deconstructed cherry pie. I enjoyed most of the shows, although I did think there was way too much pressure put on these youngsters when they had got their cookies or cakes in the oven, plans already made for frostings or the ice cream accompaniment in the freezer, and the judges came in with an additional challenge these kids had to add to their baked confection with, like, ten minutes to go! Just plain mean. I did not enjoy the very real tears that resulted from these grown-up jokes. Way too much pressure.
Has there ever been a time when you have “binged?” Don’t think so? Well, read on.
While researching the word “bingeing,” I discovered the startling fact that there is a new Verb out there: “binge-read.” Who knew? Yep. It’s used to describe Round-the-Clock reading. That’s a binge? Why I’ve been doing that since I discovered Nancy Drew and Victorian Holt at the age of nine and was able to keep a flashlight secreted in my room. I just called it “reading.” One writer who responded to the definition replied, “The idea that spending several hours with a book needs a new term is an absurd concept….The activity of sitting down with a novel for the afternoon is not a ‘trend’; it’s just how reading has always worked.”
I would bet a year’s supply of Twinkies that those ten young competitors, selected as the best bakers in the United States, did some serious binge-reading with cookbooks. The results of their pastry (I have always dreamed of creating the perfect piecrust like pony-tailed Jane), their fondant-decorated cakes (have you ever tried to work with that demon icing?), their perfect cookies and other specialty desserts, gives me inspiration and motivation. If children ten to thirteen can accomplish such “sophisticated” products (“sophisticated” was a judge’s assessment of some of Peggy’s work), while carrying on with their studies and extracurricular activities, there must be hope for ME.
Binge On! dear readers, and thanks for humoring me while I am house-bound.