Weeds: Going to waist

I didn’t invite him. He just showed up and now he won’t leave. Don’t you hate when visitors do that?

I’m talking about the ten pounds I put on this winter. Old Mr. 180 Pounds. I hadn’t seen him on the scale since I happily tipped 170 a few years ago.

Like a lot of us, my weight has yo-yoed over the years. Well, more like trampolined or bungee-jumped. There’s been 60 pounds of me that have been more or less. That’s not unusual for Americans. There never has been a place as blessed with a reliable food supply. Alas, too much of a blessing becomes a curse. We have fruits, vegetables, and lean protein year-round in the grocery store. We also have cheddar-flavored kettle chips, jalapeno beef sticks, and honey roasted peanuts.

Good old 180 showed up when ankle surgery had me mostly inactive. Plus, it was COVID winter anyway, with less going on. Plus, Pam took some time off and decided to cook for four of us even though there’s only two of us. Plus, there are so many good beers nowadays. Those are my excuses. They aren’t great ones. But I’m sticking to them.

I hadn’t seen 180 for a while, but he moved in and acted like we’d never been apart. The thing about extra pounds is it’s not necessarily good that there is more of me. Pam loves nature, and the more of it she sees the better. She loves me, but her love for me does not increase as I increase.

I found myself digging through my pants for size 38s. I’d happily sent most of them to the thrift store when I fit into 36s. Now I only fit into 36s if I lie to myself and suck in my gut. Lying isn’t so bad; the waistline snugness hurts after a while.

180 likes to sit around and watch YouTube. Did you know you can find every song, TV show, movie, and game ever played online? You could literally watch things for the rest of your life. And maybe a few weeks beyond if no one noticed you had passed. YouTube keeps playing algorithmically driven content. If you die watching Dwight Yoakum videos, YouTube will eventually work its way through country music of the Nineties before moving on to Saturday Night Live episodes.

Last week, I had decided to go walking on a warm day, thinking a little exercise might help shrink the expanded me. When I told that to 180, he looked at me like I had grown a horn on my forehead. “Sure, whatever,” he said. As I started to put my shoes on, 180 announced with great excitement, “Hey look! It’s a rebroadcast of the 1965 All Star Game at Met Stadium. C’mon, let’s watch.”

I was nine years old when I watched that! I said, “Sure, but just a couple innings.” By the time Harmon Killebrew homered in the fifth, it was getting dark outside. 180 asked, “You got snacks?”

180 is a big fan of craft beers, the ones that are equivalent to three Keystone Lights in taste, calories, and cost. One night we were sitting around watching historic Twins playoff losses, when he said we should have a beer. I told him it wouldn’t kill me to go without one for a day.

180 pretended not to hear me. “You know that Schell’s sampler in the basement? There’s Schell’s Cream Ale in there. Isn’t that one of your Top Ten Beers?” He was right. Off I went to the basement. 180 didn’t exactly twist my arm. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The flesh likes Schell’s Cream Ale.

One night 180 and I were enjoying a slice or three of summer sausage, when he mentioned that he had seen 190 and 200 around, and they wouldn’t mind coming back for a visit. I expelled them along with 180 and grimaced at the thought of lugging those pounds around. 180 ignored my frown. “190 and 200 said they really enjoyed their time with you. They were wondering if you still make those nachos with extra cheese?”

180 was getting on my nerves. Then he took things too far. “I saw 230 a while back.” I put my hands over my ears, yelling, “LALALALA!” I didn’t want to hear about 230. 230 brought back memories of Fat Albert, Fat-Fat-the-Water-Rat, and probably some other Fats I’ve suppressed.

My hope was once I got outside to work, 180 would go away. Have you noticed it’s a lot easier to put on ten pounds than it is to take off ten pounds? Why is that? Maybe it’s because it’s easier to convince yourself that a piece of braunschweiger would be good than the opposite. “I know, I won’t have a piece of wonderful braunschweiger. That’ll be fun!”

Besides eating a lot and taking up space in the house, 180 had other qualities which make him a bad guest. He takes things that aren’t his. Pam had a bag of Australian licorice. Pam is a disciplined snacker who can eat a single piece a day. One day, the bag was empty. 180 and I pointed at each other. Investigations are ongoing.

The other day 180 said to me, “We should get some donuts.” I reminded him that donuts are one of the things I swore off to get from 200 to 170. “There’s a peanut donut down in the freezer.”

I told him that’s a historic donut and to keep his hands off it. “That’s the Last Bakery-Made Donut in Sleepy Eye.” I loved the peanut donuts from Dan’s Bakery, and bought a bag when they closed. When I got to the last one, I realized I had a relic. I told Dan and Sue about it once and considered giving it to them in a frame. I never got around to that, and there it remains, in a baggie in the freezer.

“Let’s toss in the microwave and eat it,” persisted 180. “I bet it’s good.”

“It’s ten years old!” I yelled. “Besides, I’m thinking of donating it to the Historical Society.” 180 looked at me weird.

180 is annoying me, and I’d really like him to leave. Unfortunately, I just ate a large chocolate chip cookie while I finished this. 180 might be around a while.


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