The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

April/May, 2003 Humor Writing Contest Winner
Best Short Humor!

The First Three Letters Of The Word "Diet”


Julie Donner Anderson

I am pleased to report that despite three pregnancies and a middle age threat to my waistline once again, I still wear a size 8.

OK, I'm talking about shoe size.

I haven't worn a size 8 dress since elementary school. Even then, my school uniform looked like a plaid tent. I have never beenthin in my life. I was always the last person that team captains picked for baseball games, unless they needed bases. After years of not only listening to fat jokes but being one, you'd think Id be used to my ever expansive shape by now and just learn to love myself no matter how many wicker chairs I break or how many fires I start while strolling in corduroy slacks. But there are too many living, breathing stick people walking around, pointing their bony bodies in my face and prodding my guilt to the surface.

Take my neighbor, Anna R. Exic. Anna is the poster child for eating disorders. Her size 2 jeans hang on her like clown pants. Last year, her kids used her bony body as a Halloween decoration. The woman has to wear cement shoes just to keep from blowing away on a breezy summer day.

I could feel sorry for Anna, knowing to what lengths she must go to maintain her skeletal figure, but I don't. In my circle of chubby chums, she's not "one of us. " Given the opportunity to supplement a daily requirement of fatty fried foods with a milkshake at lunch like the rest of us, Anna would rather binge on carrot sticks and Perrier water and proclaim, "I couldn't eat another bite! " She would then excuse herself to go run a 10K marathon, leaving the rest of us to waddle home. Makes us want to turn her upside down and use her to rake our autumn leaves.

No, we're not jealous. It's just that we hate her. Seriously. Our rail thin neighbor is a constant reminder to us midlife mammoths that unless we take the rump roast by the horns and try, try again to keep fat from clogging our arteries, our plump insulation will kill us prematurely. And we must survive, if only to outlive our husbands so we can spend their life insurance money on Bahamian cruises and Saturday night bingo.

Up until recently, living with the hippo in the mirror wasn't so bad because of my portly pals. They had become a lifeline to sanity in a world of midriff baring Twiggy lookalikes. (Ever notice that Twiggy never smiled? Could it have been undernourished facial muscles?) We even formed a club, our motto being "Never put off till tomorrow what you can eat today, "and even developed some strategic rationalizations for our bumpy, lumpy shapes and sizes.

Pregnancy, overactive thyroid glands, lack of willpower, midlife bloat – we've used these lame excuses so often over the years that they had become passé, so we had to create more. Today's expertly overweight woman is much more in touch with her "victim" side, babbling explanations such as "My doctor says I have too many taste buds, ", "Everyone knows obesity is genetic, " and "I'm not fat, I'm vertically challenged. " But even those are getting old.

In spite of betraying my pizza loving buddies, I know the time has come for me, personally, to swap excuses for action. I must face the plain truths that my girdle always seems to run screaming from the bedroom when I come near it, that my neck has more chins than an oriental phone book, and that my flabby underarms resemble a condor wingspan.

So today, I pledged to never surrender to the battle of the bulge. In fact, I'm so sure that I will go to my grave wearing a spandex leotard, with a rice cake in one hand and a Diet Coke in the other, I had "Here Lies Skinny" engraved on my pre–purchased tombstone. I have burned my Pudge Club membership card and have resolved to take yet another dieting plunge.

I start next week, for even though Sunday is correctly considered the first day of the week, the day before Mad Monday serves as another fond farewell to food, and I don't want to miss it. It's the final day to stuff your soon–to–be–deprived oral cavity with forbidden Reece cups, Dagwood sandwiches, and every crispy, salty, drive–thru–acquired food item known to men wearing paper hats.

By Sunday evening, a dieter's skin begins to take on the brownish hue of a sun worshipper from all the chocolate she has digested that day, while every pore on her body exudes the aroma of a KFC deep fryer. Now satisfied, fake-tanned, and ready to take on salad bars, Monday arrives, and I am charged up and willing to do whatever is necessary. know it won't be easy, but my goal is to make it to next Monday without losing my hair … or my mind.

D-Day morning begins with the all-important weigh-in. All bathroom scales lie. Every woman knows this is true. So, prior to mounting, I adjust its inadequacies by calibrating the device at least five pounds less than where it started. I feel better already, until my loud talking scale fibs again and announces my weight in all its glory for the entire neighborhood to hear. I take its punishment into my own hands and promptly whack it into submission with a sledgehammer. Figuring I probably burned 50 calories by doing that aerobic activity, I happily head downstairs for some fortification.

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, say nutritional experts. Lots of high fiber food opportunities in this meal, they say. Yeah, right. If God had meant for us to consume five portions of fiber daily, he would have made cardboard edible. The stuff sure tastes like corrugated paper, to be sure. Forget it, I say, as I whip out the somewhat fibrous Fruit Loops and the sugar bowl. Scanning the cereal box for vitamin content, and realizing that my choice of breakfast cereal is woefully lacking, I decide to increase my daily requirement of Vitamin T (for "Taste”) and dollop some Kool Whip Lite (after all, I'm dieting) on top of the colorful fiber. Add a glass of chocolate milk for calcium, and my day is off to a healthy start.

OK, now for some exercise. I decide to make up my own version of "Sweatin' With The Oldies" and start huffing and puffing to the tunes of every Disney video my toddler wants to watch today.

I'm amazed at how much clearer my mind has become since starting this regimen of blood pumping exertion. While doing deep knee bends, I began to realize that Snow White was definitely a pervert with a fetish for vertically challenged men, Cruella DeVille would have been one helluva college drinking buddy, and The Little Mermaid's hair will one day fall out from that constant exposure to salt water.

With every clock in the house programmed so I won't miss a meal, I eject the videos and run to the kitchen as the cuckoo clock chirps its delightful tone, reminding me that lunch approaches. It seems like eternity since breakfast. The toddler is hungry, too, so I sprinkle some chicken nuggets and fries on a cookie sheet and wait for them to bake. In the meantime, the guilt over my breakfast fiasco starts to get the better of me so I make up for it by consuming only a slice of unbuttered toast and half a diet soda.

This bird-sized meal in my stomach feels like a snowball thrown against a brick wall. My hunger pains are still rumbling so loudly that I almost missed hearing the stove timer sound the alert to prepare the toddler's noontime feast. Setting the plate down in front of her, she informs me that she's no longer hungry and opts for an apple instead. Not one to waste food when there's starving children in Africa who could eat for a week on this small offering, I make the sacrifice and polish off six nuggets and all of the fries. I then smugly jot down a notation in my food diary: "Today, I saved Ethiopia. "

With the lunch plates cleared and nap time near, I am so exhausted from fighting with my appetite that I lay down with the toddler in her bed. While she sleeps peacefully, I peer around her room at her Barbie doll collection. If Barbie were a real woman, scientists say her body measurements would border on the abnormal, something along the lines of 56-18-32. If Barbie were a real woman, say I, she would have three bratty kids and a butt the size of her Dream House. She'd also have nipples and a boyfriend who was anatomically correct.

Now painfully aware of my food deprivation-induced delirium, I tiptoe from the toddler's room for a well deserved mid afternoon snack, not wanting to add to my hallucinations any further. I set up the blender to make a smoothie of bananas, yogurt, and skim milk. Finding the drink a tad on the chalky side, I add some ice cream just for texture. After all, there are no calories in anything that touches fruit.

By the time the kids come home from school, I am busily chopping and dicing the evening dinner: a huge, garden fresh veggie salad. One look at the bowl and the kids lament "Awww, Mom, are you on another one of your infernal diets again? "

Sympathetic to their whines, I add a few hunks of salami, ham, and pepperoni to the mix. The salad still looking a tad nude, I toss in some garlic croutons, fry up some bacon to crumble into the bowl, and grate in some Parmesan cheese.

My husband walks in the door from work and grimaces, too, so I add some Greek feta and chunks of cheddar, a spray of sliced black olives, a slathering of ranch dressing, and voila! A 200 calorie diet meal suddenly becomes a 2,000-calorie "coronary special. "

If it weren't for kids and husbands, middle-aged women would each weigh 90 lbs. I swear they're out to sabotage me just so I will keep the pantry forever stocked with goodies.

Discouraged, I lay my depressed and weary body on the bed to sleep off my hellish first day of diet failure. My sweet husband gently strokes my hair and reminds me that he likes me just the way I am, and if I remain eternally pudgy, then that'll just be more of me to love.

Yeah, right. I'm no idiot. He's just dreaming of a lifetime supply of beer and Vegas gambling excursions. After all, my life insurance policy is worth more than his.

©2003, Julie Donner Anderson

Julie Donner Andersen is the author of "PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey As The Wife Of a Widower" (iUniverse, Inc.) and the upcoming illustrated humor book, "Parentally Insane: Insights From The Edge of Midlife".

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