July 23, 2013
Well, we all knew it would come to this one day. Yes, the day I’ve dreaded for the last few years arrived on July 11. I am officially on a diet, which is being administered by the Mistress of the Manor. That’s how serious this is.
I would love to deny that I am on the … let’s say … slightly portly side, but I can’t. When I graduated from high school I weighed 175 pounds. My annual six-month checkup with my doctor on that aforementioned ominous day revealed that I tipped the scales at 243 pounds. “Holy Fatty Arbuckle, how did I get to this point,” I exclaimed to myself. But I knew, oh yes, I knew.
Not only have I gotten slightly portly, I have gotten shorter. When I answered, reluctantly I might add, my country’s call to duty, I measured 6’2” barefoot. A couple of years ago when we were measuring our grandson’s height, I joined in on the fun only to discover that over the course of the last 41 years I have lost 1.5 inches in height.
Since I appear to be getting shorter and plumper at the same time, and I can’t stop myself from getting shorter, it was decided by all concerned that I must do something about my weight. When you officially sign up, not altogether voluntarily, for Weight Watchers, you know you are in it deep.
However, this major step got me to thinking how I got in this mess. When I was a young spry thing, I could put away a large pizza, several hamburgers and fries, and assorted other foods of that variety and wash it all down with several beers, no low-calorie brews mind you, and go on my merry way, frolicking and frisking all over the place.
During my illustrious college career, I did gain a little weight, you know, just because I was getting more mature, at least physically. The mental aspect is still under question. But even then, I never got over 195 pounds, which was fine. I could still frolic and frisk with the best of them. In fact, I think that was my perfect playing weight. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
I then went on a weight-loss program not of my own design. When the government sent an envoy to secure my services in the protection of this great nation, I couldn’t refuse. Well, I could have, but I would have had to move to Canada, eh. Anyway, this weight-loss program was called basic training and took place at a lovely little place called Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. Now, Fort Jackson in August is as close to hell as you can get on Earth. Our daily five-mile runs in full pack to the rifle ranges did wonders for slimming me down, all the way back to my high-school weight of 175 pounds. If Weight Watchers really wants to get its act together, they should consult the drill sergeants at Fort Jackson.
Now, some people think drill sergeants are just plain mean, but they do have a sense of humor. One day, they said we weren’t going to run to the rifle range, but walk. Now, to be honest, I, like a lot of the other draftees, wasn’t much into all this running anyway. Sometimes, it took an hour for our whole platoon to arrive at the designated rifle range, since many of us were in need of a more leisurely stroll, complete with constant berating by our beloved drill sergeants.
So on this particular day when we were going to walk instead of run, we thought okay we can walk without listening to the drill sergeants tell us what scum we were and casting disparaging remarks about our parentage. Here is where the joke comes in. They lined us up in order of height, shortest to tallest, and instructed there would be no passing in line. Then a drill sergeant we had never seen before stepped in front of the line. He was a lean, 6’6” fellow with a stride that could cover what appeared to be 20 yards. So once he started walking, it was only a matter of minutes before we were all running in order to keep up with him. If you passed, you had to go the back of the line, which wasn’t all that bad, except you then had to listen to the disparaging remarks about your parentage.
Once I made it through basic training and became a full-fledged trained killer, I was free to eat, drink, frolic and frisk in my own way once again. I soon gained all the weight I lost, and for many years held steady in the 200-210 range, which was fine. However, over 30 years in the newspaper business takes a toll, since writing and editing is done sitting on your butt rather than while frolicking and frisking. You don’t get much exercise correcting a sentence fragment.
Just a few weeks before the start of my diet, I was kidding that I was still looking for my perfect weight. Then while watching Rosanne Cash perform at the Blue Ridge Music Center my folding chair collapsed. I looked at the Mistress of the Manor and said, “I think I have surpassed my perfect weight.”
So now I find myself toeing the line and trying to slim down to a proper frolicking and frisking weight. However, I know I am going to have to answer some tough questions, like “Do I want six Cheetos or a plate full of healthy food?” What do you think?