Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 03.10.13
Stanstead, Quebec


Searching for sugar, man!

How much sugar do I need? Scientists have been plagued by this question since early Monday evening when I phoned them and said, "Hey, scientists! How much sugar do I need?" And by "How much sugar do I need?" I don't mean "How much sugar do you need?" or "How much sugar does one need?" It is not a rhetorical query regarding the general nutritional health of the population, because at that specific moment (no offence), I didn't particularly care about your general well-being, sugar consumers of the world, but instead selfishly, egoRosstically, I meant me. How much sugar do I need?

The scientists sounded grumpy and full of corduroy. "Why must you plague us with such questions?" they chimed as one, betraying their penchant for three-part harmonizing. (It's a well-known fact, for example, that Jersey Boys enjoyed its wildly successful 2005 Broadway run due almost entirely to a rush on the box office by to endocrinologists.) "We are busy scientists, both the applied and the theoretical and sometimes the contrapuntal. We have no time for dalliances into your random saccharinal inquiries."

"I'll give you five bucks," I said.

"Done," said all of science, so easily co-opted.

A day later, science got back to me. "We have the answer," they crooned. "You don't need that much sugar."

"Shut up, science!" I blurted. "You're not the boss of me!"

"Can we have our five bucks now?" asked science so pathetically that it's no wonder science doesn't have a girlfriend and has to make ends meet selling freeze-dried "astronaut" ice cream out of the trunk of its car -- a galactic treat, no question, but one that's more akin to dried marshmallow than any dairy delight I've ever tried, although it is, at the end of the day, sugar.

Real ice cream, on the other hand, is real sugar.

"You know what time it is, kids?" I like to say.

The kids like to ignore me.

"I said, 'You know what time it is, kids?'"

"What time is it?"

"It's ice cream time! And you know what's better than ice cream?"

"Bill Murray's pure genius in Groundhog Day?" they reply.

"Yes, but no. What's better than ice cream? More ice cream!"

On this night, the night of the reluctant singing scientists, I concluded my meal with a bowl of more ice cream. Just vanilla ice cream. None of that chunk-laden, goo-imbued contemporary congelation. Simple vanilla. With chocolate sauce on top. But no whipped cream. But only because we were out.

As everyone knows, you can't have more ice cream without following it with cookies. (Again, science!) This raises a very important question: WHY WERE THERE ONLY TWO COOKIES LEFT IN THE BOX! The answer was I had eaten a row and a half the night before. And the same thing the night before that. (Math!)

So I ate the two cookies. They were maple leaf cookies, which are the best-shaped of all the cookies and perhaps the only truly sensible reason to emigrate to Canada.

Thankfully the dearth of cookies was countered by the availability of vulcanized rubber candies that had been placed in a bowl on the kitchen table by someone clearly wanting to kill me -- sour cherries and sour worms, which taste terrible but also: sugar.

Before they drove off on their scooters, science had reminded me that you should have no more than 40 grams of refined sugar a day. But until they start labeling sour worms, this information doesn't help me, so I will ignore it. Get to work, worm-labeling lobby!

Look! My wife is making chocolate chip cookies. I think she's the one who put out the bowl of candy, too. Look! My life insurance is paid up!

I ate three burnt cookies, because everyone knows burnt cookies are better for you since they are not very popular -- like scientists. I was doing everyone else in the house a favour by eating those three cookies and later those two more cookies and the one after that. I was taking one (six) for the team. My belly, the hero. Pin a medal on me.

At this point I cannot say definitively how much sugar I need. At this point I cannot say "definitively" because my teeth are moving faster than my brain, or vice versa. I'm entertaining myself with the spots dancing in front of my eyes, which is cheaper entertainment than Netflix. If you need me, I'll be in bed, twitching the night away and sleep-kicking my wife, which may explain her death-by-sugar machinations. It's a vicious cycle...

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at