not only on my writing style but my choice of clothes, the photographs I take: reflections of nature on car windows or hubcaps, distorted self portraits, the common and the bizarre (a witch's car), the highly eclectic taste I have in books, movies, music and friends. I was a vegetarian before being a vegan was considered a religion at some US colleges, fat lot of good it did me, twelve years of anemia and people mad at me because I wouldn't eat meat. I entered a cooking contest and won dinner for two at a steak house plus a large electric turkey roaster, for a sweet and sour tofu using brown rice recipe I made up. My mother gave me the weathered newspaper photo as proof.

I credit the Twinkies for insisting on a room of my own in my third marriage that I painted purple, where I could go and do purple things. I credit the Twinkies for my decision to switch from Catholicism to Methodism, for marrying an atheist, for not becoming an architect, for my crazy attention to minute details, my wacky sense of humor, my love of life.

And Twinkies, when I just think of them, remind me of childhood lemonade stands, trying to catch squirrels and chipmunks with a box, propped up by a stick, tied to a string, like in Saturday morning cartoons. Twinkies probably made me collect hand puppets, kites, everything about dinosaurs, baskets, African art, Hall pottery, PEZ dispensers, angels and mermaids. John Wayne and Elvis memorabilia, all because of Twinkies.

Why, the television shows I watch now are probably a direct reflection of being raised on Twinkies: cop shows, military history, guy movies with guts and gore and dames with red hair. I have a temper, swear like the devil's daughter, yell and chant at Yankee Stadium, and love hockey. I like the satisfaction of a job well done, preferably something involving car maintenance or physical labor, rototilling, lawn mowing, or teaching young kids practical things. Planting a garden, making a fire, games involving imagination, words, and objects found in nature or roadside, cooking good food.

All because I was raised on Twinkies, though it's been decades since I actually have eaten them; the memory of the taste is part of who I am. This is not to be construed as an endorsement or acceptance of any and all Twinkie Defense actions.

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