Jenny Turner in the LRB:
As a child, Debbie Harry was always searching for ‘the perfect taste’. She couldn’t describe it, but knew she’d know it if she found it. ‘Sometimes, I got a hint of it in peanut butter. Other times … when I drank milk. It was maddening because I was driven to have it.’ She never ate anything, she writes, without wondering if she was at last about to get ‘the flavour of complete satisfaction’.
She grew up and the search was mostly forgotten, though she struggled in secret with bingeing and with worries about getting fat. She’s always been open about the heroin she’s done, over the years, and about how much she enjoyed it: ‘It was so delicious and delightful. For those times when I wanted to blank out parts of my life or when I was dealing with some depression, there was nothing better than heroin. Nothing.’ Now she’s in her seventies, she has ‘a protein and vitamin powder’ that she mixes with coconut water and that tastes ‘satisfyingly familiar’. She blends one up most days. With a careless flip of that flossy halo, the perfect insouciance of her perfect little slotted snarl, she makes the ‘ghostly’ link:
I know that my birth mother kept me for three months. I reason that during this time she breast-fed me and this was the perfect taste. My birth mother kept me and fed me for as long as she could, then she sent me out into the world of choices. The world of flavours. The world. Now, finally, thanks to my maturing, my searching, and my magical shake, I have regained the ability to feel full, to feel hunger, and to enjoy filling up and ending the hunger. True satiation. It seems so simple. Probably as simple as infinity and the universe.