Issue 5

The Tropic of Avoirdupois


                I made two weighty discoveries this morning.  The first is unquestionable proof that men and women are different.  The second is that there are lines of force, similar to those caused by the magnetic poles of the earth, that control the weight of human beings.

                Like many substantial discoveries, these were made completely by accident.  It was time for the morning weigh-in to see how much weight my wife and I had lost during the night.  Rebecca likes to weigh herself only in the morning, totally naked and before she's put her contacts in to get her absolute lowest weight.  I think she must have a masochistic streak in her because even I can hear the scale calling to her all day, "Come weigh yourself.  See how much weight you've lost in the last five minutes."  I don't have Rebecca's willpower, so I give in to the siren's song and weigh myself all day long, bummed by the three pounds I put on by lunchtime and ecstatic about the three pounds I lose before dinner.

                Yesterday, my mother-in-law contributed to the harmony of our married relationship by bringing Rebecca a new scale.  This new scale is digital, so it doesn't change your weight by four pounds when you bend over to read it.  It also doesn't have one of those frustrating dials in front which you're supposed to be able to use to zero out the scale.  I guess it just knows what zero pounds weighs intuitively, like how a bird knows which way is south.

                Everything would have been fine, but Rebecca just had to weigh herself on both scales.  (Important note: There is no known method of torture you could inflict on me to get me to reveal my wife's weight, for the simple reason that she would invent something even more heinous for me once she found out.)  Rebecca weighed herself on the new scale first: 36 pounds.  Her face paled.  This was her exact weight when she started the diet.  Frantically, she dug through the trash where she had launched the old scale, silently glad that she had not destroyed it for the crime of not dropping pounds off her for the last six days.  She stepped on the scale: 28 pounds, just where she had been stuck for almost a week.

                I knew something was terribly wrong from the way she yelled my name.  It resembled the cry an animal trapped in one of those clawed metal jaws makes.  I ran down the stairs.  One look at her face told me the whole story.

                Bracing myself, I stood on the original scale: 187.  Then the new: 183!  All right!  I had lost four pounds in less than 10 seconds!  "Wait a minute," Rebecca said.  She got back on both scales again.  It was then that we made the first discovery: men weighed more on the regular scale and less on the digital, and women weighed less on the regular scale and more on the digital.  (I see very clever marketing behind this, trying to get married couples to buy his and her scales.)

                I could sense the emotional storm brewing, the way a dog knows an earthquake is about to strike.  "Here," I said, switching the scales, "try it now."  Amazingly, when I moved the digital scale to the place where the regular scale had been, Rebecca's weight changed: now she was 32 pounds.  I didn't know how to react.  On the one hand she had just lost four pounds but on the other just gained four.  This looked like a real lose-lose situation for me.  Thinking quickly I said, "Let's try it in the bathroom."

                Big mistake: 38 pounds.  I saw my life flash before my eyes as the digits 3 and 8 burned their red brands onto my retina.  I looked up to see the tears welling in Rebecca's eyes.  "I want that scale at Costco," she said.  "Maybe it's better."  The scale they sell at Costco is called a Health-o-meter.  It strikes me that a more appropriate name would be Fat-o-meter, but I keep my mouth judiciously shut.

                Suddenly it all made sense to me.  The Tropic of Avoirdupois, of Human Weightiness.  That's the latitude somewhere between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer where people weigh less than anywhere else in the world.  Since the bedroom was closer to the Tropic of Avoirdupois than the bathroom, of course we would weigh less there.  I haven't been able to conduct any more experiments to determine just what avoirdupois lines of force really are, but I suspect that they are like the lines of force from the North and South magnetic poles that influence compasses.  I have a few guesses as to where the Fat Pole is located but I'll keep them to myself so that I can be the first to discover it.

                It's lunch time now, and peace has been restored in my household.  Rebecca has to go outside to weigh herself where the scale is perched on a precarious ledge, but it reads 26 pounds and all is well.  I figure once I discover the location of the Thin Pole, we'll visit there for her birthday.


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