Friday, January 23, 2009


The test of true friendship is in a question I used to ask my niece, Sis, several times a week.

"Do you think I am fat?" I would ask, twirling around to give her a good look at my plump, fourteen-year old body.

"No," she would always answer, even though we both knew she was not being honest, but my feelings were soothed for a short time at least and our friendship was cemented by that one untruthful answer that hovers around every relationship.

"Does this dress look good on me?" "Do you like my hair this way?" "Is my nose too big?" "Do you like this color on me?" "Am I too tall...short...thin...fat...mouthy...quiet...popular"?...and the beat goes on. It is the duty of a true friend to gamely lie, no matter what her real opinion might be.

The first diet I ever went on was called the Grapefruit Diet. Evidently eating a grapefruit with every meal was supposed to cause the acid in the grapefruit to gnaw away at your fat deposits and turn your body into sylphlike proportions. Whatever it was supposed to be, it did not work at all, possibly because I ladled a pound of sugar on each piece of fruit, and its only effect was a hearty dislike of grapefruit that has lasted to this very day.

The matter of lying to soothe feelings caused me some problems in Florida. A very nice neighbor there insisted upon giving me a basket of grapefruit from her backyard tree. Dutifully, I ate them....juiced them, scowled at them, quartered them, hated them, until I had finished them all.

Then I met the neighbor on the sidewalk and she inquired how I had liked her homegrown grapefruit. "Delicious!" I lied. "I ate every one of them! The best grapefruit I have ever tasted."

So, the next morning, I found another huge basket of glowing grapefruit on the doorstep and was again plagued by the problem of disposing of them. I solved it by bringing them back to Michigan and found that it is easier to give away zucchini than it is to give away grapefruit. With zucchini, it is summertime, and one can hide a few of them in the back of every car that drives up. With grapefruit coming from Florida to Michigan at the tail end of wintertime, it isn't so easy.

I gave up the Grapefruit Diet and decided to give up lunches. The thing is, while I was successful in giving up lunches, I added a liberal midnight snack. Then, I decided to put my Fat Picture up on my Refrigerator Door and give up eating entirely. This lasted two days until I became so hungry I smeared mustard on the picture and ate it.

In my quest to find a successful diet, I decided the problem was Accessibility. If no good food were available, how could I possibly eat it? I would get very thin. In fact, I might even reach invisible! So, I refrained from cleaning my refrigerator for weeks and allowed everything to mildew and rot. It was exciting and educational, because there were great purple blobs with yellow streaks that had formerly been a meatloaf, there were red and green hairy looking things that I finally identified as potatoes. There was a big black chunk of shriveled charcoal-like substance that had formerly been a chocolate cake.

This experiment did not help, because I decided that, since my refrigerator was a ghastly sight, undoubtedly filled with ecoli and salmonella and God knows what other frightful killer, I had better spend my time in restaurants, sampling their heartiest fares. So then I joined Weight Watcher's.

Currently, Weight Watcher's has a point system, where you are allowed only enough points daily to melt off those layers of fat. When I joined it, the meals were carefully laid out, with some foods known as Free Food. Free Food is any food that tastes like water, has few calories, and is as far from a banana cream pie as you can get. Meat is carefully weighed, as are any vegetable that you can get your teeth into. The consumption of fish is encouraged, but never fried. "Fried" was synonymous with early death from a hoglike gobbling of calories! St. Peter would meet you at the Gate and accuse you of at least six of the seven deadly sins, including gluttony! One could not fry. Boiled, baked, stewed, raw....but never, never fried!

The highlight of each week was a Weigh In Session, where every ounce of you is weighed. Holding your breath won't help. Neither will an appendectomy, tonsilectomy or a complete gutting of your inner organs. That scale is diabolical, those numbers are truth! You've chowed down a seven course dinner complete with dessert...Admit it!

During the meeting, the lecturer goes over the weight of each member. Her eagle eye lands on your chart and you are subjected to a Guilt Trip of mammoth proportions, as you helplessly claim that you just don't know why you had that gain. Perhaps it's in the water or a mysterious gene inherited from grandparents. You just aren't going to revisit that doughnut! You just aren't going to tell about eating those soft dinner buns, laden with butter and melting in the mouth. No way!

Then I ran across the Fat Free Diet. All one had to do is exercise thirty minutes a day and eat no fat. Easy! Does banana cream pie contain fat? Of course not. God wouldn't allow it! I bought a book telling the fat content of everything including my bedposts. Hardly anything except celery is fat free. Fat seems to invade every ounce of food, like a cat burglar on a rooftop trying to steal the money from your purse, but I was determined. Not a single gram of fat would I allow into my body. I was fat AND fatfree, how wonderful is that?

So I heard about the Atkin's Diet. No wonder I am fat, I decided indignantly. I've been completely Fat Free and now I know that I must be Carb Free instead. Here I am, an American citizen, supposedly free, and I am vastly confused as to what I am supposed to be free from! So I began eating huge portions of meat, followed by cheese, and salads the size of the Grand Canyon. The trouble was, the more meat I consumed, the more I yearned for a slice of bread. In my mind, a single slice of soft bread meant more than life itself. A single slice of bread was a taste of nectar, a bit of Valhalla, a paradise on earth! I could not endure one more bite of meat and salads, while hearty food for a rabbit, were nauseating just to think about. Think of all the animals being killed for the purpose of obese people selfishly wanting to be thin! Think of the rabbits those salads could feed, hungry little rabbits being deprived of all that lettuce!

Now, I have discovered a method of Breathing. Breathe in, breathe out, the weight is supposed to fly away like a tarp in a windstorm. How easy is that? It has a double meaning, as well. As long as I'm breathing, I know I am still among the living, and as long as I am among the living, I can seek out the Twinkies, sneak a Snicker's, and dive into a chocolate pudding.

So, you see, I am a Dieting Expert, able to give advice to others. Obesity is a problem in our country, especially overweight children, and I can give tips to desperate people...not on how to lose weight, but exactly what they should NOT do. If you do not follow my example, you will soon look like a twig. It's guarranteed. I plan to write a book about it...The Diet Guide for Dummies! Ignore my advice and you'll be slim and fashionable and able to fit into leotards without them refusing to slide over your bottom. You can wear stylish clothing without looking pregnant even when you are several years past menopause. Just follow everything I have told you today..and do exactly the opposite.

Mark Twain said that it is easy to diet. He claimed to have lost a thousand pounds, the same five pounds again and again. I have done far better than Mark. I have lost a thousand dollars trying to lose five pounds. It is far easier to lose money than it is to lose weight!