I used to eat paper cups from the water cooler at the Lynch School of Ballet. They were sweet and seductively light and filling. The cold water from the singular water dispenser was perfectly distilled, at the perfect, criminally satisfying PH.

The paper cups only sweetened the deal. They were little round cones, shaped like the perfect ice cream cone. I only bit into once when I was so aggressively thirsty that my lips ever so slightly edged the top of the cone that my teeth couldn’t help but sink into it at the third refill of my cup.

girls n pink dress practicing ballet in the studio
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That’s when the cup was really primed for eating. When it was soggy enough to actually chew on. I would sink my teeth into those cups like they were a sirloin steak and my little sticky salty fingers would gleefully grasp the collapsing cup as it began to slowly break down in my hands.

Afraid to lose the cup entirely, I just started eating it. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to drink water again, within the one cup limit we had But you know me, I had to break that limit. The only way the teacher wouldn’t find out I had more than one cup is if I ate it. So I ate the first one after three cups of water wet it enough to be eaten, and I was on to the next.

stylish armchairs in kitchen with built in appliances
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This was a regular occurrence at my ballet class. My mother started to catch onto my secret. I yearned for a carpool so she wouldn’t be able to monitor my cups. Will’s mom never noticed. My dad would just boistfully laugh at the ordeal and wonder if there were enough snacks at home. There were of course. Just not as good as the paper cups.

As she picked me up inconsistently, I was able to hide it, and hide it well. My addiction only became particularly shameful when ballerinas started to notice. It was obvious. I love the paper cups, and the paper cups loved me. The cups filled me up. No need for dinner post-ballet class. My secret paper cup eating addiction hit the spot. My mom caught me eating one of my paper cups after class one day in the corner chomping on my second cup. She wasn’t pleased but was surprisingly somewhat intrigued. How could she not be hungry after ballet class?

The funny part is, I don’t really ever remember being hungry right before I ate the paper cups. I was definitely thirsty though.

cute girl in angel costume holding paper cups
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I remembered this secret addiction of mine in a dream I had this morning and had to write about it. Mainly because I didn’t want to forget. My paper cup preference started and ended over 30 years ago. I wonder if the paper cups still taste satisfyingly the same? I wonder if I did decide to go to the water cooler at my old ballet school, would those cups still be there? They probably are still there, ready to divvy out cold water and be chomped on the more each cup would be filled.

Something was really wrong with me. The weird part is that my digestive tract was able to easily breakdown the former trees, for some odd reason unbeknownst to me. There was plenty of food available in my house. Pretzel rods, Fritos, cereal, and we always had bread and jelly. They just weren’t the same.

There weren’t many consequences physically that got in the way of my paper dining. Surprisingly. No consequences post-feed that I was aware of at the time.

When I ended ballet class, I remembered the cups would not be there anymore. So of course I took a ton on my last day to try to savour the flavor. It just wasn’t the same without that consistent cold temperature and filtered water. I don’t remember the last time I ate a paper cup, but I remember the more happy feedings during peak paper cup season.

What weird things did you do as a kid?

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