Weight! Weight! (Don’t Tell Me!)
Is my body politic expanding its sphere of influence?
By Ed Goldman
With age, one is supposed to gain wisdom, insight and patience. I haven’t gained any of that. What I’ve gained is weight.
Actually, I’m in a holding pattern, having dropped a few ounces over the past six months. But there’s something at work here that I acknowledge the reality of: gravity. But I’m also inclined to blame physics. For example…:
- Why do napkins slide so defiantly from my lap, whether paper or linen, at home or in restaurants? Have my bent knees started sloping earthward when I sit? Are they being pushed south by a belly that’s heading east, north and west? Where are Fermi, Feynman and Einstein when you really need them?
- Why are my slacks so loose I can practically jump out of them, Popeye-, Clousseau- or firefighter-style at day’s end, without this having anything to do with slimming? Can it be that their elastic waistbands, along with my abs, have simply tendered their resignations but the memos have yet to reach my desk? Must I call in Hugh Sedwottenwen, this column’s HR consultant?
- Who has been deliberately—nay, nefariously—shrinking my shirts, wristwatch bands and Dad’s retirement ring from the New York City Fire Department, which I’ve proudly worn since his passing 45 years ago? Are there atmospheric thingies occurring of which I should be more aware and fighting against? Do they involve crop circles and the Aurora Borealis? And is the latter a meteorological phenomenon or the name of an incense saleswoman I briefly dated back at Long Beach City College?
- Am I the only one who notices it takes his legs a solid 25 minutes to recover after rising at the conclusion of a business lunch? What’s with this temporary cramping? Do I need to start doing strenuous stretching before or after sitting down to a meal?
- Why do waiters say, “Really?!” when I order a salad or decline to order dessert? I don’t recall that happening a few suit sizes ago.
- Why do weight-loss commercials immediately appear when I switch on my TV? Am I being monitored, the way Google, Amazon and Pinterest assume that if I ordered one book, movie or poster in the last five years, I’d probably like to order a few dozen more on a similar topic? I imagine someone sitting at Comcast saying, “Hey, cancel the Geico and Men’s Wearhouse ads! This guy’s about to flip on CNN. Get me the Marie Osmond/Valerie Bertinelli diet spots, double quick! And some of those two-minute infomercials with four-minute disclaimers on liposuction. Code blue!”
- Why am I starting to pay rapt attention to couture bromides about avoiding horizontal stripes, wearing dark clothes and never removing my suit jacket even when I’m at a patio party and the temperature hits 106 degrees?
- Correspondingly, why am I so certain the sound a button makes when it suddenly pops off a shirt or pair of slacks is “plik?” Not “poink” and certainly not “boing.” And more to the point, what can I do with information of this sort? Hire myself out as a sound-effects consultant to animé cartoonists and the makers of Marvel and DC blockbusters? (As for the latter, when I think about it, none of those superheroes seems to gain a pound from film to film. So, this could be a blind alley from the standpoint of monetization.)
- Why do I sit farther back from my desk these days, even though my eyesight demands I sit closer? It’s the computer, isn’t it? I’d heard the model I own was part of a nationwide recall, though this might have occurred too many years ago to still be valid. One clue is that my typewriter keys consist of hieroglyphics.
- Why do I have to tug ferociously at the seat belt to cinch myself in on commercial plane flights, regardless of the airline? Was the prior passenger Gumby, Reddy Kilowatt, an emaciated rock star or supermodel? Am I going to have to request an extend-a-belt before my next trip (and does this product even exist)? Am I looking at a future in which I’ll need to purchase one-and-a-half seats for a one-hour flight?
I suppose I could always save the remaining half-seat for the supermodel. Maybe I really am gaining wisdom with age.