This is an offshoot of the original Liam & Janet blog. That blog has become overrun by Liam's inability to keep his mouth shut when something annoys him. The serious rants there seemed incongruous with the humor columns. The plan for the humor columns continues to be to post a new one every Friday, plus occasional extras when the mood strikes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

STUFFED: A Thanksgiving Tale of Weight Loss and Bodily Function

Note: This essay relies upon the use of a particular phrase which is not really fit for polite company, and so we shall need to dance around it to keep this essay "family friendly". Thus, I have chosen to replace the one most odious word in the phrase with the word "rutabaga". I do this for several reasons. First, I needed a word that, in the phrase, would not be the least bit offensive. Second, the word rutabaga is, to me, innately funny. And third, it is Thanksgiving, which means that it is the one time of year when I will again be asked to try rutabaga, and in my considered opinion, it tastes like....

*          *          *

I learned something new about myself today...

As those who know me, who read these columns, or who have ever recognized me from a moderate zoom level on Google Earth already know, I'm not the slimmest odds in the casino. When I'm sitting on a seesaw, the average human male, in order to balance out the toy, must wear a backpack loaded with lead bricks... and sit in a Toyota.

And so I'm on a diet lately, and I've actually been moderately successful, having lost over 20 lbs thus far. This leads to an obsessive reliance on the scale, checking my weight just about any time I have call to be in the bathroom or conveniently near to it, such as in the same zip code. I've learned all of the tribulations of "daily fluctuations" and "water retention" after eating salty foods, and have realized that when one is in the weight class officially labeled by the World Boxing Federation as "livestock", daily fluctuations in weight can involve the full weight of an infant, but with more bawling.

Seriously, though, it is pretty depressing when you step on that scale and see a rise in weight, and this is exactly what happened to me this morning. This being Thanksgiving day, I did not have to go to work, so I rolled out of bed at the crack of 10:30 (early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and someone other than Liam) and as is my wont (yes, I have a wont, although it's threadbare in a few spots and so I may get up really early tomorrow and see if anyone is selling them at "Black Friday" loss leader prices) stumbled into the bathroom to do that most urgent-upon-first-waking task: weighing myself. Up four pounds. Since yesterday morning, I was up four pounds.

Here's how I look at this: To justify being up four pounds, I should have gotten the equivalent pleasure of having wolfed down four pound cakes, and as a fat guy, that's a level of pleasure which is likely to cause extreme cardiac distress. Since I have not experienced extreme cardiac distress, I must conclude I have not had sufficient justification for those extra four pounds.

Clearly I had no choice. I had to swing into action with the only conceivable emergency plan I could think of: I had to start crying. Big, wracking, shuddering sobs setting those extra four pounds quivering mockingly at me.

Well, no, it wasn't really that bad, but I did get rather depressed, and so with a significantly lower level of enthusiasm than I'd had minutes before (and remember, minutes before my enthusiasm level had been "unconscious"), I began my morning rituals and pondering my situation in the way only a neurotic, depressed fat guy can obsess.

First, I brushed my teeth, wondering whether my toothpaste had any significant caloric level, and whether fluoride strength and fresh breath was really worth it. 'I definitely must,' I decided, 'replace my mint dental floss with a lighter, unflavored brand.'

Then I got on the scale again, just in case I had misread the dial the first time. No such luck.

Next, I shaved, and continued pondering those four pounds as though they held the solution to the current national fiscal crisis, if I could only figure out how to apply them. I started wondering just exactly how much of me four pounds really would look like and what a pile of four pounds of body fat would look like if you were to have it in a jar on your desk (and I cannot suggest strongly enough that you not, under any circumstances, keep four pounds of body fat in a jar on your desk. Three pounds is the absolute maximum according to my personal code of ethics, and I think you'll agree there's simply no reason to ever exceed that amount).

Then it was back onto the scale, in the vain hope that perhaps a significant fraction of those four pounds could be explained by beard growth.

I continued pondering as I trimmed the various extraneous hairs that seem to have cropped up in my 40s as a "consolation prize" for no longer having any measurable follicular activity on my scalp. What quirk of evolution or sadistic hand of our creator decided that hair should spring healthy and thick from our ears and noses as we age I can not guess, but I can tell you that I long ago gave up the notion that I could grow it long enough to comb over the top to try to hide the baldness.

Then it was back onto the scale, just in case there'd been a sudden surge of extra gravity for a few minutes that had now righted itself and I'd be back where I should be. Nope.

Next it was into the shower, a task which I do not mind mentioning because a psychiatrist friend once conclusively proved in a double blind study (and believe me, the participants were ever so glad to be double blind) that the human brain has an amazing ability to distract itself from bad or unpleasant visuals such as car accidents, projectile vomiting and me naked in the shower. It is not merely that you will not wish to try to visualize such a thing, it is that your brain will force you to think of more pleasant things until the moment has passed and you are no longer trying to visualize it. Things like doing your taxes or a piece of raw fish you accidentally left in your car on a hot day.

But while in the shower, I obsessed that I could tell that I was four pounds heavier, because it was taking me considerably longer to wash my stomach, and that that must be due to the increased surface area to be scrubbed. (Allow me to digress again just to ask a quick question: Why the heck do I still use shampoo? I have a higher hair-per-square-inch density on the soles of my feet than I do on my scalp, and yet for some reason I'll set down the bar of soap which is perfectly acceptable for every other part of me and grab the shampoo in order to wash the top of my head. Seriously. It makes about as much sense as adding fabric softener to your dishwasher, but I can not seem to break myself of the idea that if I were to use soap on my head, something horrible would happen. Like what, my hair might fall out?)

Drying off carefully, so as not to affect the reading in the wrong direction, it was back onto the scale again, in the hope that perhaps I'd actually sleep-walked into the shower and had merely dreamed the earlier weighings and that I'd find I was actually not four pounds heavier. But... I still was.

Shower finished, there was only one task left to perform, and it is a topic of some sensitivity, so let us just say that it involves a pose not unlike Rodin's "The Thinker" and we shall belabor the point no further.

With my morning ablutions now complete, it was time to jump on the scale one more time and... the four pounds were gone. I was down four pounds. Yes, seriously.

...and thus, today, did I learn that I am full of rutabaga.

Copyright © November 27, 2008 by Liam Johnson.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha! You do have a fantastic way with words, especially in the humor department. This addition was well worth the wait, the funniest read I've ever had on a Thanksgiving. Thanks!

Sunday, November 30, 2008 9:20:00 PM

Blogger Liam said...

Thanks, Linda!

Sunday, November 30, 2008 9:31:00 PM

Blogger INTJ said...

gosh darn rutabaga

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:08:00 AM


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