A few days ago, I woke up fat. I'm not sure how it happened, since I was in top shape just 30 years ago, but suddenly I'm not merely carrying a tire around my mid-section, I'm toting a John Deere tractor wheel. Since childhood, I've been naturally slim, although my weight has gone up and down in recent years. So, I'm no stranger to battling the bulge, I just don't know how to manage the bloat. In recent years when I got portly, I'd go to the bathroom and I'd be skinny again. For most of my post-30 life, I have averaged around 172 pounds. Suddenly, I'm carrying around a 12-pack, and I think they are tall-boys.
It didn't sink in until I saw two recent photos. In the first, I was standing with a group of guys, and I just figured someone's iPhone must have distorted the shot and widened me out. In the second, I was seated, leaning slightly forward, and I looked like some hunkering gargoyle. Dunlop's disease has overtaken me, because my gut has done lopped over my trousers. I should have noticed it in the shower when recently I have been unable to see my nether regions without a slight lean. I recoiled in horror from a full-length mirror, but I was inspired to write a new country song called "I Can't Stand To Look in the Mirror, Because I Hate To See a Grown Man Cry." This can't be happening to me! Who wants to be old, bald, and fat? My wife blames it on my addiction to Pepsi-Cola, but I point out that Hugh Hefner drank Pepsi his whole life, and he's still slender. Or look at Joan Crawford. She sat on the board of Pepsi, Inc., but "Mommie Dearest" never got pudgy. I've tried the diet versions, but they taste like medicine and I need my cola fully loaded. I also attempted switching to iced tea in a can, but they are saturated with high-fructose corn syrup, and you can gulp them, so you need a couple. It's tougher to chug a cola without belching like a howler monkey midway through.
Don't get me wrong, many of my old friends have blown up beyond recognition. It comes with the territory. But I don't look grotesque or morbidly obese and Melody tells me I'm not fat anywhere else but my belly, but it's starting to move around some. I think it's because ever since I began keeping quasi-business hours, I started eating three meals a day. When I kept musicians' hours, I'd sleep half the day, eat a big dinner, and a snack later, and that was it. My body just wasn't acclimated to what's commonly referred to as normal life, and it rejected the health benefits I was attempting to incorporate.
Funny thing is, I don't eat a lot of sweets or desserts, I don't snack a lot, nor do I drink beer or alcohol. It's not a moral thing. Alcohol just makes me sick. Lord knows, I've tried to be a proper drunk in my past and I spent years searching for just the right drink. I started drinking Brandy Alexanders just because I read it was John Lennon's favorite, until I woke up one morning and spent the day calling people to apologize. But it didn't matter how you disguised it. Whether it was wine, whiskey, or beer, it just made me ill. And the sad part is, I would go directly from being straight to being sick with no euphoria in between and only hell to pay later. I finally figured out it was a crappy high anyway and abandoned the effort.
I can, however, see years of alcohol consumption in my friends' faces, and they have paid for it with gin blossoms and enlarged proboscises, as well as the expansion of the epidermal layer to keep in the heavy load below. Go anywhere in public these days and you'll see enormous, titanic obesity — the kind you didn't see just 20 years ago. You would think Americans exist on a steady diet of fried pork rinds, Mountain Dew, and whale blubber. I enjoy an occasional Chips Ahoy myself, but I don't eat the entire Costco-sized bag in one sitting.
Of course, the answer is always diet and exercise, but ever since that gall bladder thing I had a few years ago, I am physically unable, by the grace of God, to do a sit-up. Walking is the answer, but my neighborhood isn't entirely walker friendly. When the sidewalk ends, your choices are either walking along a major thoroughfare where the autos zip by like NASCAR or taking your chances on the pavement of a narrow lane with speed bumps. In any case, there is no walking around here without including the dogs. If they catch you putting on sneakers or even thinking of the word "walk," they go wild — and we have three of them. I don't mind taking Rufus Thomas' advice and walking that dog now and then, but I'm no "dog whisperer" and I can't walk three at once. But who are we kidding? I'm not walking anywhere farther than the mailbox anymore. It hurts, good people. So if I return to musicians' hours and you should hear me somewhere singing Fats Domino's classic "I'm Walkin'," you'll know that I am exercising — poetic license, that is.