[The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. We continue this entertaining series with Daniel’s discovery of his own mortality. —Ed].
For Whom the Scale Beeps
By Daniel Will Harris
I lost five pounds this week. Without even trying. What's
my secret? Well, I'd tell you, except I've always thought
I could make millions if I ever combined all the most popular
book genres into one and wrote "The Mafia Quick Weight
Loss Diet Mystery."
Unfortunately, I'm really bad at keeping secrets, and besides,
this diet is so simple that the book would only be one sentence
long, so here goes:
I call it the "My wife's on a diet Diet," and it
simply involves having your wife go on a diet. This automatically
puts you on one, too.
I don't believe in diets. If you saw me you'd probably say,
"Well, that much seems clear." But I just think
diets don't work. Yes, I can lose weight. I've lost enough
weight to create a dozen David Duchovney's. But I've always
managed to find the Davids again—plus at least one Olson
I also believe that people, like dogs, naturally come in
different sizes. No one expects all dogs to weigh the same,
so why do all those stupid weight charts expect people to
weigh the same?
Besides, people weren't designed with supermarkets in mind.
Or TV commercials. Pay attention and you'll see every diet
ad followed by a pizza ad. On one single night of "Must
See TV" every show had the characters eating pizza and
brownies. This all plays on our animal nature that's constantly
telling us to stock up because who knows when we'll eat again.
I mean, it might be hours.
So I spent my time accepting myself, rather than reducing
See, ever since I can remember I've been what I like to call
"larger than life." Or "Above average in weight."
Or at the very worst, "the ideal weight (for a taller
person)." I avoid the word "obese" because
it sounds so awful even "junkie" sounds better (the
FDA and pharmaceutical industry seem to think so).
I now prefer "husky" which sounds kind of sexy.
And my current favorite is "chubby" because a seven
year old girl recently said to me "You can't be very
old because you're chubby like a baby." I love that.
Then, last week, a box arrived from eBay. That's a normal
occurrence around here, but instead of something decorative
and useless, it contained something ugly and useful—a
horrifying electronic scale that not only flashes your weight
but then has the sheer unmitigated gall to tell you what percent
of your body is fat. I was stunned. I checked the address
to make sure it wasn't a mistake. It wasn't.
"I'm on a diet," my wife announced casually. The
words went in my ear and out my open mouth.
"Diet? But... but..." I said, as articulate as
I could be in a state of total shock and disbelief.
"It's not to lose weight, it's to help us avoid having
massive coronaries," she calmly explained in her best
Doris Day voice. There's no way to argue with that. She handed
me the scale. I touched it and it started beeping as if it
was frightened. I knew now for whom the scale beeped.
"I'm not getting on that thing," I proclaimed.
I don't want to know. I'll just get depressed if it tells
me that I'm over 100% body fat," I exaggerated. I could
still feel a few bones, like an elbow or knee, so I knew there
were bones in there somewhere and I couldn't possibly have
over 97% body fat).
"It's not for you, I don't even want you to get on it"
she smiled, nonchalantly, knowing that not allowing me on
it would ensure that I'd have to secretly try it.
I finally remembered to close my mouth as she left the room
with her "lunch," which consisted of a few raspberries.
This just wasn't like her. This was the girl who had chocolate
ice cream for breakfast. The woman who claimed cream was the
source of her ever-youthful complexion. Butter's best friend.
She'd always been immune to the unhappy, pasty-faced dieticians
glowering from the TV news, proclaiming things like, "eating
movie popcorn is like injecting motor oil directly into your
veins" or "deli food is like putting a corned beef
to your head and pulling the trigger."
"How'd they get to you?" I asked, worried they
might get to me. "Well, I had these pains... they were
probably just indigestion..." she began at which point
my brain started screaming "if I had an odd feeling in
my chest area I'd be at the doctor faster than you can say
'EKG.'" I regained my hearing just as she was saying,
"So I went to the library and checked out every diet
book" and realized by this time she'd probably already
become a diet Rosetta stone.
Suddenly, all the diet doctors she made fun of were gurus.
As she told me about the various diets designed to clean out
your arteries I heard what sounded like distant thunder; it
was my stomach rumbling.
"I'm hungry," I said. "You can eat whatever
you want," she said, with a saint-like smile. And true
to her word, she never told me what to eat. She also never
made anything to eat—that's the key, right there.
And yes, I did finally succumb to the scale. Before I stepped
on the hateful thing I cleverly set it to Kilos so the number
it displayed would be a lot smaller than pounds. And no, I
won't tell you what that number was, or what percent of my
body is fat (though I will admit the possibility that a large
percentage of it is in my head).
So I've lost weight, something I haven't revealed to anyone
else yet because I don't want to hear them say, "You
look so much better now," as if I had looked awful before.
My wife says we'll live longer. Personally, I think it will
just seem longer.