“Eat What You Like, Die When You Should”

After I turned 50 my family, along with everyone else in my life, were constantly recommending that I should start eating healthier. While I was appreciative of their concern for me, I would always reply “Eat what you like, die when you should”. I saw the  suggestion of watching what I eat as a restriction on what I can or cannot do. Did I ever mention I’m stubborn and hard headed? My oldest brother lives in the State of New Hampshire. Their license plates has the motto ‘Live Free or Die” printed on them. I have thought of moving out there just to get that license plate but it is too cold in the winter and the locals are always staring at you with that look on their face as if they can’t decide if they want to shoot you or buy you a beer.  A little too much living free and not enough dying going on in my opinion.

Now that I have reached the ripe old age of 62,  I look back on my youth (anything under 61) as foolishness and folly. Oh, I have no regrets. I had a great time associating with such riff raff as McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen (I secretly suspect shenanigans were going on between those last two), Carl’s Junior and the like. Not to mention a close relationship with all the micro breweries and hot wing establishments in Northern California.

Did you ever stop to look at yourself naked in the mirror? Oh, I’m not talking about when you were in your teens to thirties, I’m talking about when you have aged past those glory days. When you were young it was an amazing experience. You would pose proudly, guys strutting around, girls sashaying around (or whatever it is the female specie does), people who were not sure of what they were just sort of staring off into the image and using their imagination. Everything was proudly in it’s place and displaying itself in a firm and gravity proof manner.

Now, as that time has long past, it is a scary sight. Especially for me as I had apparently become “hefty”, “chunky”,” large boned”, and somewhat huge. I thought the dogs followed me around all the time outside because they loved me but now I realize they were just trying to stay in the shade. I was developing a plural chin. My pecs would fit into a “B” cup. I had forgotten what anything south of the belly button looked like. My cute “love handles” had become flaps. People in Mexico would call me “Gordo” while I always replied ” no, my name is Derek”.

About two months ago my beautiful bride, Angie, announced we were going on a diet. As this was shortly after my encounter with the naked fat man in my mirror, I agreed. Some of Angie’s friends had been raving about a diet plan called “The Macronazi” they had found on the internet. At first I thought it was a web site about minute Nazis goose stepping their way to health. It turned out to be this nice lady named Melody that taught you how to eat properly. The “Nazi” part of the website name is indicative of how disciplined the diet plan is but I secretly suspect that Melody might have worn black in a previous life. Allow me to explain that last part.

I had been texting Melody after several weeks of the diet and she stated that we get a “cheat” meal because of the progress we made. I told her I was going to have a burger and a beer. She texted back saying the burger was fine and to add fries but the beer was off the menu. I replied that I would not eat the fries and would send her $2 if I could have the beer. She replied that she didn’t need the money and I didn’t need the carbs from the beer. She then reminded me that she was the MacroNazi and that she ate puppies for breakfast. I resisted asking her if they were low fat puppies.

We are now 8 weeks into the diet and I must admit, it’s not bad. I thought diets were evil things that made sane people do insane things. This diet lets you eat a lot of food. It is just good food. No processed stuff, very little sugar, lots of protein like steak, fish and chicken. Angie, being the master wizard in the kitchen, has developed some marvelous meals that are delicious. As a result, Angie is down 20 pounds and I am down 17 pounds! 37 pounds total so far. That is a small child, a very large turkey, medium sized dog, an Ewok or a Mini Me! Our queen sized bed is now roomy. We can pass each other in the hallway without having to suck in. I went down to an “A” cup.

I am now a devout believer in eating healthy. My children are amazed and wonder what ever happened to their hard headed, stubborn father while at the same time they are a little disappointed that there will be a delay in the distribution of the life insurance money they were counting on.

I still say, “Eat what you like and die when you should” but now I like healthy, clean food and that dying part will be a little delayed. I still wonder, though, what low fat puppies over quinoa with Thai peanut sauce would taste like?

Please note: No puppies were harmed in the making of this blog.

 

Dinner Time

We would not consider a meal to have been successfully started without the required bickering session to wet our appetites. So without further ado we will go on to the main course, dinner conversation.

I remember watching the television show “Leave it to Beaver” when I was a kid and if my memory serves me correctly the conversation went something like this.

“Well, Beaver, how did your day go at school?” asked June the mother who was usually dressed in an attractive dress complete with stockings, gloves and stylish hat.

“Swell mom” the equally well dressed, clean faced boy would politely reply.

“And what about your day, Wally?” asked Ward, the loving father in sport coat, tie and well shined shoes.

“Golly Dad, it was great. The coach said I could be on the track team this year!” replied the respectful, kind and considerate teenager.

I’m sure that this is the normal scene set in millions of households today as well. My household was slightly different.

First off, the dress code was a little less than the Cleaver family of the 1960’s television show.

It usually consisted of momma bear wearing an attractive top decorated with bits and pieces of the evening’s culinary experiment.

This would be followed by the hard working, long suffering, kind, gentle father figure still in his work clothes as he just got in from another long day only to be met at the door with a long list of the children’s criminal offences delivered by the stressed out momma bear / warden.

The children’s attire ranged according to age.

Five years and younger would be mostly naked, only wearing whatever happened to not fall off during the last 30 minutes.

Five to ten years of age would be almost normal but usually unmatched, often on backwards.

The female teenagers varied according to mood. One minute bright and cheery and the next moment all black with the odd torn top or jeans that were the rage for that moment or whatever clothes they could steal from their father‘s dresser.

The male teenagers could usually be smelled before they were seen due to overactive hormones and a lack of deodorant or bathing as they didn‘t have the time. You see, they were much too busy whacking wookies on their video games. The style, if you could call it that, would be a wrinkled t-shirt with some obnoxious saying or image on it accompanied by tattered jeans with holes in them, on purpose no less, these jeans appeared to have been attacked by a roving band of graffiti artists. The jeans would have been hanging down around the lower most region of the nonexistent buttocks of said teenager.

Conversation would be started by the father figure.

“Hey! Turn off that crap you call music and get over here for dinner!”

This would be followed by the usual grumbling or by no reply all due to the dreaded “deaficus instantainacus” syndrome that accompanies over stimulated sensory organs due to the sounds and graphics that were emanating from the latest video game / MTV show.

When the rabble would finally be assembled the father figure would start off with a hopeful sound in his voice ,

“So, how was your day today?”

This question was thrown out to no one in particular as he doesn’t know what the “mood” of the evening will be yet.

“Umph” would be the mumbled reply from one of the rabble.

“Great! Glad to hear it!” offered the hopeful dad.

“How was your day, dear?” he would direct to his bride.

Granted, he already knew due to the ever present list of crimes related at his every return but he was none the less hopeful for a positive reply.
“Oh, it was fine” she replied as her hand shook as she served up the meal.

“Ben flicked a booger on me!” one of the girls would offer angrily and then proceed to inform us that her brother resembled the south end of a northbound donkey, but not in such a polite manner.

This would start the rest up with their particular complaint about the other siblings.

“Buddy’s got a butt crusty” the youngest, Tristan, would offer.

This caused the momma person to inhale sharply and exclaim “Tris!”

Seeing this reaction only spurred him on.
“Ben streaked the neighborhood today too!!” he informed us.

Again, Angie gave her patented inhale and said “Ben!!”

That’s pretty much the extent of her replies to the all shocking news that comes from the fruit of her womb.

I, however, am unfazed as this would not be a normal dinner in our house if the subject of poop and naked didn’t come up during a meal. The unfortunate part is that this is also the case even if we have company over.

Needless to say, we are very selective to the ones we allow to dine with our brood. Usually we invite a young couple over to eat with the family only if they have recently expressed a desire to have children. We consider it as an additional form of birth control for them so that they do not stray into the insanity of our world.

Let’s Go Shopping!

A new phenomenon in our society is the “bucket list”. These lists usually identify things people want to do before they die. This activity sounds rather defeatist  to me as with each check off on your list wouldn’t you bring yourself that much closer to assuming room temperature?

I have looked at several of these lists online and noted  they do have some rather interesting goals. Some are very “happy, touchy, feely” goals such as:

1.) Be Kind to a Total Stranger. While this is always recommended there is a need for caution. Note the “Total Stranger” part and remember that Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, Charles Manson, Richard Simmons and Osama Bin Laden were all once total strangers.

2.) Start a New Career. While this may be an exciting challenge, many have unwittingly done so when they fell asleep or got drunk on the job,  made inappropriate comments to anyone who is not also asleep or drunk on the job, sent unsolicited or even solicited pictures of one’s “nether regions” whether the recipients were either asleep or drunk on the job or not.  (Here we must exclude politicians and actors/directors as then we would have no entertainment or government.)

Then there are the more adventurous goals:

1.) Hug a shark. This activity often results in almost bleeding out and experiencing life on a small cart with one limb to your name.

2.) Climb a mountain. To be followed by falling off a mountain and saving the time and money it would require to do any of the other insane items on your bucket list.

I have a suggestion for those that feel they need to do at least one adventurous thing in their lifetime:

Go shopping with Angie.

 

At one of her many grocery shopping adventures Angie was in the produce section of the local grocery store wandering around looking for something she forgot to remember to write down on her grocery list that she forgot to take with her. When she found this item she put it in the  cart and proceeded on in her quest. As she was leaving the produce section she noticed a man looking at her strangely. When she was heading down the next aisle she noticed the man was following her! This started her parallel universe that lives in her mind to trigger an alert. “Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger!” She made a series of sharp turns and the man was now getting closer! Finally she quickly went around another corner and waited. When the would be stalker/rapist rounded the corner she raised herself up to full momma bear size and shouted in his face:

“WHAT?!?”

The poor  man staggered back and meekly exclaimed:

“Ma’am, you, you took my cart.”

“Oh” was her reply and she simply turned around and walked off.

 

On another occasion Angie was planning a large family dinner. This required a trip to Costco for industrial sized packages of baking materials. As she started her trek the first thing she got was a 25 lb bag of sugar. She dropped the bag of sugar into her massive cart and continued on with determination and zeal. Yes, Angie was in baking mode. This is the family’s most favorite mode she gets into. The results are multitudinous amounts of fresh cookies, pies and other delights. As she finished up her shopping she headed to the checkout line. The little girl that was with her mom in the line in front of her looked at Angie and then at her cart and asked:

“What’s that white stuff all over the wheels of your cart?”

Angie glanced down and noticed white granules all over the rear wheels while a small mountain was forming under the cart.  Apparently, the now almost empty bag of sugar got punctured when she dropped it in the cart. This resulted in a neat line of sugar tracing throughout Costco that even a blind diabetic could track. Along with the line there were other small mountains indicating which food sampling stations Angie had paused at and for how long. There were several mountains at several of the stations indicating return visits. You see, Angie simply turns her coat inside out to disguise herself so the sample person does not think what they already know.  I am sure we all are guilty of occasionally taking ourselves out to lunch/dinner at the ever popular “Costco Buffet”.

 

Angie at one time took our daughter Ashley with her to get items for the home and for our family company. She separated her items into three different purchases. The first set of items she paid for with $60 cash she had in her purse. The second set of items she paid for with a company check. The last set of items she paid for with her debit card. After she swiped her card in the reader it asked her if she wanted cash back. She pushed the appropriate button to get $60 cash back. The teller looked up at her and said:

“Didn’t you just pay with $60 cash for the first set of items?”

Angie replied in the affirmative.

“Then why did you request cash back on this last purchase?” asked the now confused teller.

“Because I need some cash.” was Angie’s simple reply.

The teller just stared at her for a long moment trying to wrap her brain around this new form of logic as Ashley slowly sneaked away so that no one would associate her with the womb from which she born. Meanwhile Angie is, as usual, blissfully unaware of the carnage that she usually leaves in her wonderful wake.

 

 

 

“Don’t Eat That”!

Angie is the perfect wife/mother for our unique family. She does, however, have a few slight phobias that make life more interesting. One of her biggest fears is food spoiling. This, combined with her pack rat habit of never throwing anything away, makes for some interesting situations.

Angie’s theory as to when to clean out the refrigerator is when you see a small revolution going on inside the fridge between the veggies and the meats. Your first clue that maybe it was that time is when you open the door and find a moldy peach holding a gun on the brown lettuce. This is a perfect indication that your food has gone bad.

One year, when our daughter Marisa was in elementary school, Angie had made a bag lunch as usual for her to take to school. When it was lunch time, Angie was making a sandwich for Ben who was still at home when she noticed that there might be a problem with the lunch meat she had used. Her first clue was when she went to grab it in the fridge it ran over to the other side and hid behind the gallon of half solidified milk. Her second clue was when she finally caught it it had slipped through her fingers from the heavy coating of slime it had developed. It was then that she realized that Marisa’s lunch was potentially fatal, or at the least, she would never have to get penicillin shots again in her life. She snatched up Ben and ran three blocks down to the school and burst into the lunchroom screaming

“Marisa! Bad Bologna! Don’t eat that!”

Normally, this kind of abrupt interruption to the lunch room of a school would result in pandemonium and panic. Not so for this little school as all the children and teachers knew of the wonderful world of Angie. Years later Marisa finally figured out why none of her classmates would trade their lunches with her.

Meal time has always been an adventure in our home. Usually the conversation starts with an objection from one of the kids about what was being served. Angie is a first class cook, the envy of many a Jewish grandmother, but there was always one or more of our offspring that would offer their culinary critics about the quality of the food. It usually started with ,

“Ewww! What’s that stuff?”

This would be accompanied by a face resembling a 3000 year old mummy recently exhumed from their crypt after a particularly gruesome death.

“It’s your dinner, eat it.” would be my reply.

Sensing a possible revolt and an opportunity to maybe get something they really liked such as pizza, McDonalds, or anything else that kids consider gourmet dining, the other children would join in voicing their dislike of the healthy, balanced meal set before them.

“It looks gross!” another child would offer.

“I don’t like that stuff, it’s got red sauce on it!” adds another.

Some of Angie’s culinary feats did look rather disgusting but upon tasting the “manna” as we would call the less recognizable dishes (meaning in Hebrew – “What is it?”) one would find it very delicious. The hard part would be getting the kids to try it. I always set the lead and took a good bite. Four pairs of eyes would be locked on me as I chewed the suspicious material. They were surely waiting for me to fall over dead or have a seizure or something. I would inform them,

“It tastes great! Try it”

No takers. They would suspiciously eye the food on their plate, moving it around with their fork in search of something toxic or perhaps worse, something actually good for them.

About this time one of them would say “I’m not hungry.”

At this point of the game, the parents of these wonderfully obnoxious children would then be divided into two camps, just like the little terrorists planned. My camp would say ,

“Great! Go to bed! I could use a night of peace and quiet! And I’ll save your portion for breakfast! See how you like it then!”

Of course my obviously reasonable reply would be met with cries of protest and with tears pouring down their cherub like faces.

It often amazed me how these kids could turn those tears on so easily. Marisa, our first child, could actually do projectile crying and extinguish a small wild fire on command.

Of course, momma bear, the inventor of this mayhem, would chime in,

“Derek! Leave them alone! You’re being mean!”

The children, sensing eminent victory would press home the attack with more tears and anguish while rushing into the open arms of the person who tried to poison them in the first place. Then momma bear would start making grilled cheese sandwiches or whatever else to satisfy her starving brood and keep them from the grips of apparent starvation as the theatrics was now at full power. Of course I would respond with the time tested ,

“When I was your age, I ate what was given me!”

This, of course, was a gross untruth if there ever was one as my brothers and I invented many dubious ways to dispose of unwanted meal portions. Peas would go into your milk and you always left enough milk to cover them. The tricky part was that you had to take your own dishes to the sink or your deception might be discovered just as this one was and our solid colored cups were replaced with clear glass cups to prevent any further smuggling of healthy food to the garbage disposal. Another useful device was the family dog. A hardly noticeable move of the hand and Butch had another healthy serving of liver. Of course there was always the old reliable standby, hide the stuff under a stray piece of lettuce, a potato skin, placemat or seat cushion.

My children would be by now rolling their eyes at the familiar story while at the same time basking in the glow of their victory as their mother would by now be serving the more palatable and less suspicious looking meal to them.