Jun 29, 2020

Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me!

Did you add some heft to your frame while sheltering with cake?

By Ed Goldman

We know about Covid-19. But what about the Covid 15? In the spirit of the famous “Freshmen 15,” which is the average weight students allegedly gain in their first year of attending college away from home, Covid 15 is an apt descriptor for how many pounds many of us have put on while dutifully sheltering at home for several weeks, in close proximity to our kitchens, in the hope of skewing the pandemic’s statistics. 

While we stayed home for humanitarian purposes, our tenure was accompanied with a renewed zest for eating, drinking and foregoing exercise. In my daily sprints through Facebook, I noticed that dozens of people used their house arrest to discover or rediscover the joys of baking. This sounds innocuous enough but when you combine “Derek made a strawberry pie!” with “So I ran right out and bought three gallons of vanilla fudge-ripple!”, it’s not dissimilar to eavesdropping on a Scarfers Anonymous meeting:

“Hello, everyone. My name is Sheila and I would like to eat your pashmina, Sylvia.”

“But it’s a very fine-spun cashmere, Shelia.”

“Please don’t tease me, Sylvia, I know.”

I actually lost nearly 10 pounds during the first weeks of isolation owing to the absence of lunch meetings and getting together with friends for cocktails and Happy Hour hors d’oeuvres. But  I then gained it back as I began to remember how much I loved to cook—and did so with zeal renewed and carbs restored. 

I also let my beard grow long enough to consider applying to be a stuntman for a ZZ Top music video, then realized I had better things to do than muse at bedtime whether to let the beard stay on top of the duvet or join my chest beneath it. (Please see the before-and-after photos, which haven’t been retouched, but doubtless should have been.)

Beard before and after.

The net result was that once I made my way into the world again, I looked practically the same as when I’d taken refuge from it. And while I was no prize package before, during or after the pandemic, one likes to show at least benign battle scars when he’s been through a challenge. A bigger belly and “Duck Dynasty” beard would have sufficed. 

So my personal takeaway from sheltering has been more fiscal than physical. For example, I realized tremendous savings on my Altoids budget—but came to understand that even though my mouth was masked and no one would get near me, I still had to deal with the occasional prospect of Blowback Halitosis. This can occur, and quite abruptly, if you remove your mask, eat a sandwich containing onions, peppers and salami, re-don your mask and then let go with what the Brits call a posset, gurk, bolk or moment of ventosity. (The Scots and Northern English term it a rift.) 

As a preventive strategy, I thought of liquifying some of the aforementioned Altoid mints and soaking my mask in the resultant mixture before reattaching it to my ears. But in the one experiment I tried, moments after fastening the mask in place, my eyes and sinuses began to burn, with the net result that if I’d walked into the grocery store, tears would have cascaded from my eyes. This would have made me look either dangerously feverish or incurably sentimental about seeing all the people who work there.

Actually, the latter would have been true. I’ve been shopping at Corti Brothers market in East Sacramento for 40 years. In that time, I’ve outlived the actual Corti Brothers and seen dozens of butchers, cashiers and the store’s behind-the-scenes cooks begin and conclude their careers there. They and the store have been reassuring constants in my life through this and other crises. As has their deli counter’s onions, peppers and salami sandwich. [Gurk!]

* Photos by Osborn the Magnificent: Ed’s cat, who often sits on his cellphone.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).