It was bound to happen.
As some of you that read my column know, and others of you that use it for lining your bird cage are about to learn, I have been on a low fat diet since last June when my doctor's nurse called me one morning and told me if I didn't change the way I ate, I would probably soon be eating nothing at all.
That fateful morning I had just settled down in front of my computer screen with my usual breakfast of two croisants smeared in sweet frosting and a big bottle of whole fat chocolate milk when the call came across my desk. It was then and there, after the phone call had ended, that I decided to change my eating life. I passed one croissants ( I had eaten the first while the nurse was giving me the bad prognosis on the phone) and the brown cow juice to my neighbor in the next cubicle and told him to enjoy it.
"Why are you giving this to me?" he asked pleasantly surprised at my sudden generosity.
"One day, in about 20 years, you'll know the reason," I said to my 26 year old co-worker who immediatelly downed the now taboo-to-me food.
Since that time I have stayed on the diet I more or less set for myself. No more fast food, little beef and only small amounts of chicken. I also decided since I was going to hit it hard I would bat all the things that are bad for me out of the field. I decided to cut out all the caffination I could and eliminate soda pop from my diet as well. At the time I could just see my old boss from when I worked as a route driver for CocaCola 25 years ago rolling over in his six pack. He always told us the best advertisement for what we were selling was to be drinking a bottle of the stuff while we stocked shelves. There were summer days in 1979 when I went through two eight packs of 16 ounce glass bottles when I was wheeling that stuff around grocery stores.
While I am not sure what my cholesterol and triglicerides are right now, I know that at a special clinic test I had done last fall I had reduced the problem quite a bit by then. That was great for me, but little have I realized what this diet has done to my family.
It's bad enough that when I dream I see visions of the foods I no longer eat. The reality is that chocolate eclairs in dreams taste no where as good as they do in real life. But now the food syndrome is beginning to affect my wife's dreams as well. The other morning I was getting ready to head off to work at a very early hour, being careful not to wake her, but she sat straight up in bed with a start just as I was buttoning my shirt.
"What's wrong?" I asked wondering if I had been passing the buttons through the eyelets in an unusually noisy manner.
"Go back!" she exclaimed excitedly, "I left them on the ground. You probably just ran over them!"
I wondered from which world she had just emerged.
"What are you talking about? I didn't go anywhere or leave anything," I said defensively as I tried to pull on a pair of socks over my ugly feet. "Where have you been?"
She realized where she was and then began a bizarre tale, which could only have occurred in a fantasy or a Francis Ford Coppola movie. In her dream we had been driving for hours, across a desert where there was nothing. Worse than Green River to Grand Junction; even worse than Barstow to Baker. The whole time she said she was starving and kept asking me to find a place to eat. I just drove along with a blank look on my face, not listening to anything she had to say or her protests. It sounded like I was acting similarly to the ghouls in the Night of the Living Dead, which is the way I sometimes feel on this diet I am following.
Finally a small convenience store came into view and she made me stop. The details of how this was accomplished were not clear to her, considering my Bela Lugosi state of mind. She said the store was one of those typical out-of-the-way little shops, with cans of chili on the shelves coated by multi-millimeters of dust and cassette tapes of Roy Rogers Greatest Hits and The Best of Tiny Tim on sale in a rack near the cash register.
Looking around the store she found the soda machine which had these huge cups that took minutes to fill, and two hands to carry. Next to that was one of those hot warmer glass cases with a sign that said "Rainbow chicken nuggets, 59 cents a cup." She peered in and there they were: chicken nuggets with every color that could have existed in Dorothy's rainbow. It was the only hot thing to eat in the store so she picked up two cups, manhandled her gallon of pop to the counter and paid the hard looking woman behind the counter for her purchase. The whole time she was doing this I was sitting in the car, looking straight ahead.
When she got to the vehicle, the pop was so big that she sat the rainbow nuggets on the ground, while she tried to get in. As soon as she and half the stock of Dr. Pepper in the country got into the car I drove off, leaving the 'rainbow nuggets' behind in a cloud of dust. Hence, she started to yell at me and woke up in the process.
I looked at her when she finished the story. "Do you really think I would do that?" I asked incredulously. "I never stop anyone from eating what they want just because I can't."
"Oh you think you don't?" she said, obviously still angry over the flattened multi-color nuggets that were left on an imaginary asphalt pad in never-never land. "Remember last week when everyone was eating ice cream in the kitchen and you kept reading the total fat levels, saturated fats and ingredients labels out loud? Do you think any of us really enjoyed eating it. It's basically the same thing."
But by this time I was off in a fantasy world of my own, wondering what rainbow chicken nuggets would taste like, and trying to figure out where I could get some without anyone noticing.
I wonder what Freud would say about all this.