Issue 4

Memoir of a Food Slave


            My wife Rebecca cooks so much better than I do.  Whenever we cook for ourselves, I make some disaster and she creates a miracle of smell, color, and taste.  It doesn't matter what I make, even if it's something truly decadent like corned beef hash out of the can, I want what she has.  So I don't cook much anymore.  As a consequence, the cooking muscles have atrophied and all I'm capable of making is pancakes (all Dads have this innate ability) and cereal (only 57% of all fathers can handle the complexity of this delicacy).

            Just in the same way I control my dog Dioge's food – that is, she eats nothing but what I feed her, except for what she kills on her own – so I eat only what my wife feeds me.  Sometimes I get riled up and ready to tell her that I am a man, that I am in control of my life, and that I'll eat pancakes for dinner if I want, when she opens the oven and suddenly I'm helpless.  I have become a food slave to my wife. 

            Given this power she holds over me, Rebecca has spent the last seven years trying to improve my eating habits.  Less fat.  More chicken (the closest this house has seen to a steak in years is the cow printed on my son's pajamas).  More vegetables.  More fruit.  So what happens when she decides it's time to lose the extra weight she gained when she had Skylar?  We both go on a diet.

            I'm not sure "diet" is an appropriate word.  It's the all-protein, low-carbohydrate scheme designed by Dr. Robert Atkin.  What that means in simple terms even the lay person can understand is YOU CAN EAT ALL THE BACON YOU WANT.  No joke.  Rebecca, who gave me hell every time I even looked at another piece of bacon, had two pounds of the Thick Cut in the grocery bag.  Note: this is more bacon than she has bought in her entire life.

            Here's what Day 1 of the Atkin's Diet looked like in our household:

            Breakfast: half a log of Jimmy Dean sausage, bockwurst, turkey sausage, and three eggs each.  The omelet has four mushrooms and a handful of spinach.  ("That's too much spinach," Rebecca says.  "We only get 20 carbohydrates all day.")

            Lunch: a pound – each – patty of beef, camophlagued with bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise (all you want, but hold off on ketchup: that has sugar in it).

            Dinner: chicken drowned in oil, sour cream, and garlic.  All you can eat.  Oh yeah, and a small salad to give in to our increasing vegetable withdrawl.  You know, just a few leaves of lettuce with a blender full of Caesar dressing and half a tin of extra anchovies besides.

            I don't get it.  This is how I used to eat when I was a bachelor.  What's the deal?  Maybe Atkin himself is a bachelor, and he just wanted to show women that us bachelors were right all along.  Okay, you can't have more than a single beer or slice of bread each day, but for me the most important part was always the thick slab of beef.

            I think I even understand how the diet works.  Flashback to age seven when Mom taught me about being fat in the grocery store.  "Here," she said, throwing a bag of potatoes at me, "if you're ten pounds overweight, it's like carrying that bag everywhere with you."  I remember visions swarming me, visions of myself in two years with five bags of potatoes tied to my body and wearing slip-on shoes so I would never have to bend over.  All through high school this imagery helped keep me fit and slim.  It wasn't until college that I lost ground and gained the Freshman Five (really ten) after living – and eating – in the dorms for two years.  Add another ten pounds (really twenty) after I became a food slave to my wife.  That makes three bags.

            My guess is that this diet is all about getting rid of those potatoes, one sack at a time.  I figure Dr. Atkin's mother must have thrown a bag of potatoes at him too.  (Heavens know what this diet would be like if she had thrown a bag of kitty litter at him.)  Given my background, I know my body needs potatoes, usually in the form of artificially flavored BBQ chips.  By my only eating meat, in order to survive my body must dig deep into the reserve bags of potatoes I'm been carrying around my waist.  The all-I-can-eat bacon supplies the fat necessary to fry them and convert them into the chip molecules my body craves.

            The irony of all this is that now that I'm "allowed" to eat all the meat I want, I can't.  If I have to look at another sausage today, I may vomit.  Seriously.  I used to be able to eat like this all the time, but it's not just that I've gotten used to vegetables and fruits, now I even like them!  Meat had become a side dish.  Unfortunately, I know how this is all going to end.  Just as soon as I get used to eating like a single man again, wham!  It'll be time for a whole new diet.

            In the meantime, I stuff that meat down my throat in fond memory of the life and freedom I used to enjoy, when food sustained and pleasured me back before I learned how it was really killing me.  And when I gag on a formerly delicious piece of fat (all you can eat so long as it's on the meat), I consider cheating on the diet by sneaking the fat out of my mouth and down to my dog Dioge.

            Dioge really likes the "new" Atkin's diet too.


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