Wednesday, August 20, 2014



My first serious attempt at losing weight came about many years ago as a result of the shock and horror I experienced after sitting for a new passport photo. I had gone to one of those storefront photo places and paid good money for a half dozen shots from which to choose. The best of them looked more like Herve Villachaize than me and that image, still gracing my passport today, has led to more than one uncomfortable encounter with Homeland Security. I'd recently had an annual physical at which I'd been greeted by my comedian-doctor with, “You are one fat bastard!.” This was the same doctor who said, while snapping on the glove just prior to investigating my prostate, “I just want you to know, I ain't your bitch...”, so I paid perhaps less attention to the fat comment than I should have. But the night I spent at the hospital sleep-study for snoring, sitting in a fluorescent lounge watching “Touched By An Angel” with a group of four-hundred-pounders squeezed in to johnnies pretty much did the trick. Too much neck weight, I was told.

   Cabbage soup was the current cure and the recipe hadn't changed much since the siege of Stalingrad: simmer shredded cabbage in water to cover until soft. Enjoy. This seemed to work pretty well, particularly as eating nothing at all soon became preferable to another bowl of cabbage soup.  I found myself reading the fine print on the calorie section of everything at the supermarket. In fact, I could spend hours grazing the aisles picking up tasty looking items, reading the labels and putting them down again. I wasn't missing the food so much as the cooking, and this led to experimenting with all the “fake” and fat-free items then beginning to crowd the shelves. I made a cheesecake from fat-free cream cheese, fake sugar, zero-calorie egg product, one of those Keebler, severely reduced graham cracker crusts and a variety of CoolWhip which, according to the label, had nothing whatsoever in it at all. In fairly short order I managed to lose forty or fifty pounds, gave up a few chins and the diet and commenced to fatten up again.

   Here in Maine it's fairly common to round the end-cap of the Entenman's aisle to find oneself up close and personal with a vast expanse of bulging lavender stretch-pant. Endless winters of bad TV, coffee brandy and crock-pot Mac n' Cheese have set the standard for both the male and female form. Whereas a few of us fat bastards continually binge and purge, most of the folks I see waddling around the Shaws or Walmart parking lots seem pretty content and unconcerned with their prodigious girth. The cars and trucks they're squeezing into or being helped out of list to one side after years of unevenly distributed weight, and sport bumper stickers that say “Fat Chicks Have More To Love” and  “I Don't Skinny Dip I Chunky Dunk”.
There seems to be a touch of anti-Government, “Don't Tread On Me” sentiment rolled up in all this as well, a reaction perhaps to Mrs Obama's garden or Mr. Bloomberg's soda ban. Our own powerful Senator Collins has led a tireless and successful campaign to force the Federal School Lunch program to accept and include the potato. Lobster or salmon may have been a better choice.

    I'm pretty much down to my fighting weight these days; been working on it now for a few months with my friend Malcolm. We share carrot sticks and the occasional bag of popcorn for lunch at work. I broke a tooth last week and the abject terror involved in speculating about a remedy for that has worked wonders, too. Tomorrow they are removing that tooth together with a few of its neighbors..... leaving me without much chew. I suspect this will help keep the weight down as the winter months approach and images of comfort food crowd the imagination. I'll be reaching for that coffee brandy, though....