Cheese is Addictive—I Curd it Through the Grapevine
As I reached for the parmesan to sprinkle on my spaghetti at dinner, my husband grabbed my hand.
“Careful, that’s addictive.”
Now, my hubby is quite the joker, so I “yes deared” him and took the shaker.
“Really. I heard it on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” he said.
“The PBS radio show?” I said.
He nodded, smirking.
I pulled out my phone and searched. Wouldn’t you know it? I immediately found an US Weekly article informing me “a new study released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine reveals that cheese is actually addictive in the same way that drugs are addictive . . . ” –US Magazine
I looked up from my search to find hubby had retaken control of the shaker. He’d also sprinkled its contents on the tabletop and pressed the flakes into a line, which he now mimed snorting with his cocktail straw.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised (about the cheese—I’m never surprsied by the depths to which my man’s sense of humor will plumet).
After all, the world is ripe with examples of cheese addicts wrecking their own lives and the lives of those around them.
Let’s start with a truly tragic case.
Wallace shows all the classic signs of a serious and debilitating addiction. He has a ritual associated with his use of cheese, bringing his closed hands up, palms forward, to rock them back and forth in a stereotyped gesture when he speaks of it. Moreover, he has a complete loss of control. If he runs out of cheese, he’ll go to any lengths to get it, even travelling to the moon. Furthermore, his personal relationships have been compromised. He rarely talks to anyone but his dog, Gromit, and he left a lady love, Wendolene Ramsbottom, because she didn’t care for his treasured Wensleydale. On top of that, he seems to suffer from delusions; he apparently believes Gromit understands him, and even places his dog in charge of driving a car.
Now let’s consider a particularly alarming example.
In his famous “Cheeseshop Sketch,” we see the behavior of a dangerous addict. He starts with some mildly obsessive behavior, requesting Leicester, Tilsit, Caerphilly, Bel Paese, Red Windsor, Stilton, Gruyere, Emmental, Norwegian Jarlsberger, Liptauer, Lancashire, White Stilton, Danish Blue, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Dorset Blue Vinney, Brie, Roquefort, Pont-l’Eveque, Port Salut, Savoyard, Saint-Paulin, Carre-de-L’Est, Boursin, Bresse Bleu, Perle de Champagne, Camembert, Gouda, Edam, Caithness, Smoked Austrian, Japanese Sage Darby, Wensleydale, Greek Feta, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Pippo Creme, Danish Fimboe, Czech sheep’s milk, Venezuelan Beaver Cheese, Cheddar, ‘Illchester, and Limburger, but becomes nearly manic when he learns that there is no Cheddar.
Finally, he follows his frenzied prattling with an act of violence that he himself admits to be pointless.
John Cleese “Tell me something. Do you have any cheese at all?”
Cheese Shop Proprietor “Yes, sir.”
John Cleese “Now I’m going to ask you that question once more, and if you say ‘no,’ I’m going to shoot you through the head.”
John Cleese “Now, do you have any cheese at all?”
Cheese Shop Proprietor “No.”
(shoots cheese shop owner)
John Cleese “What a senseless waste of human life.”
I doubt that there is anything to be done for Wallace or Cleese, but for others hope is not lost. We just have to help them to take that first step and recognize the harm cheese has caused them. We can start by helping them to examine their own words and acts. Of course, documentation helps. Diaries of the addicted serve as an excellent tool in this process and can show them how they’ve used cheese as a substitute for taking charge of their lives.
“Feel very strange and empty. Is all very well thinking everything is going to be different when you come back but then it is all the same. Suppose I have to make it different. But what am I going to do with my life? I know. Will eat some cheese.”
There are even longstanding traditions in which cheese addicts risk life and limb in pursuit of their cheesy fix.
Group Cheese Fixation
Take, for example, the Annual Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire, in which hundreds of people come out to watch as addicts chase wheels of cheese rolled down a steep hill, in spite of all warnings.
But when did the warning on a pack of cigarettes ever stop a smoker?
Too long has this dangerous substance held an accepted place in our lives. Now that we know the danger, our whey is clear. The milk of human kindness demands that we help these addicts and put these problems brie-hind us.