The first day of spring – a new season marking another revolution around the sun and another resolution to lose the annual weight I pack on over the winter.
The harsh rigors of winter are brutal here in suburbia. I need second helpings and lots of Cabernet for the strength to scrape the ice off my car in the morning. That treacherous frigid struggle from the door of the house to the door of the car and back again demands extra calories – those of a big breakfast burrito with sour cream and cheese rather than a plain egg-white omelet with dry toast. The long dark nights cry out for the Vitamin A in platter of sweet potato fries, with a good hearty beer or two to ward off the chill.
It’s survival of the fittest, for which I’m willing to sacrifice fitness.
A sinus infection sent me to the doctor this morning, where I sat pondering the absurd plight of the overweight middle-aged American woman in a world full of hunger. This was after the nurse weighed me, fully clothed and without even having had the chance to pee away a few ounces first.
“There are starving children in Africa,” Mother warned, admonishing me to eat my succotash. I sat at the dinner table watching those thick mealy lima beans get cold, picturing a nice little parcel ready to ship to some grateful Kenyan.
I sat today on the examining table waiting for that discreet knock on the door, head pounding, feeling like crap and looking worse. In came a tall dark and handsome young physician’s assistant, the sort of fellow who’d have piqued my interest 30 years ago. These are the moments that make me feel old and fat and faceless and futile.
To complete my humiliation, he informed me that my left ear was packed with wax, and proceeded to dig it out. It’s hard to exude scintillating feminine charm when your sinuses are pounding and someone who smells really good is leaning close to dig yucky stuff out of your ear.
A dig in Egypt, detailed in the March issue of the journal Antiquity, “promises to shed light on how the commoners of ancient Egyptian society lived.” The new study suggests that, while Egyptian pharaohs built majestic temples filled with sparkling treasures, the lower classes performed backbreaking work on meager diets. An analysis of more than 150 skeletons from a 3300-year-old cemetery reveals fractures, wear and tear from heavy lifting, and rampant malnutrition amongst the city’s commoners.
This is news? Someone is getting public recognition and a fat professional salary for announcing something I learned in fifth grade? I’ve obviously made some very bad vocational choices.
Digging up a bunch of contemporary commoners would unearth the same sad statistics. Not much has changed in 3300 years.
Although diets have. Take the 19-year-old woman in NYC who eats 15 sticks of deodorant a month, for instance. That’s 360 deodorant sticks during the two years she admits to doing this. What will her skeleton reveal to future archeologists?
A more interesting question is why on earth she would reveal herself on television, snacking on antiperspirant? While I may discuss belly fat and earwax and peeing, we commoners all deal with those common denominators. I keep my real peculiarities to myself.
So now I have a few new weight-loss motivations! Peculiar ones, granted, but I’ll take motivation wherever I can find it.
First, there’s Perpetual World Guilt. Hungry people are starving to death now and have done so for eons, and I’m whining because my jeans are too tight. Hungry people are malnourished, and I’m over-nourished. Hungry people don’t have a fork to pick up, and I can’t put mine down. Woe is me – I really shouldn’t make tiramisu for dessert (again). Guilt and shame have always been powerful forces in my life (you already guessed that I was raised Catholic); I’ll invite those old friends to the dinner table, one place they haven’t yet poisoned.
Second, there’s the thought of that girl chewing on Secret in public. Morbid fascination led me to a series of articles about weird food addictions, including a woman who chews and swallows globs of cat hair and another who spends $200/month on dog treats she crunches down herself. This sort of thing makes me feel incredibly sane and well-balanced. It also makes me feel a bit sick, which is always a good appetite suppressant.
Third, if desperate, I can visualize what at last count was 14,000 dead pigs floating lazily down sunny Shanghai rivers. The Chinese government refuses to comment and is ignoring the problem of these pigs, hoping it will go away.
It’s exactly how my sons handle problems and probing questions from me—blank looks and shrugs and feigned incomprehension, despite the pervasive smell of waterlogged pork and circling buzzards.
It occurs to me that that’s how I handle problems, too. My extra 15 pounds, for instance. If I ignore them, they aren’t really there, despite the tight jeans.
Just how many calories do you suppose are in dog treats? How hungry am I?