Friday, May 4, 2018

The Kumquat Theory




They look like mini oranges, no more than the size of a quarter, that you can actually eat whole.  Well, smart people nibble them because if you get a bitter one, the first bite is an education in wincing-without-swearing.  The clerk at the grocery store asked me what they taste like.  I told her, you have the bitter ones, and the other ones.  If you bite a bitter one, you have to have the other kind on hand to quickly remove that flavor that makes your eyes squint and lips pucker.  The trouble is, they all look exactly alike.

You need to either decide that for the quantity of good ones you may have, you are willing to forbear the bitter ones, or just not eat them at all.  How much like dating that is.  But I will also propose it is like other things in life too.

The other night I was picking up sticks in my backyard.  The bending over and squatting down took a toll on me, but not as much as the Kumquat Theory did.  I collected two wheel barrow loads of sticks and had to stop because my awareness was exhausted.  What?  Kumquat Theory – when things look alike on the outside, but can differ seriously on the inside - makes it imperative that I pick up sticks with 100% presence of mind and both eyes open.  I even wear my prescription glasses…  all of this attention to detail because of the one day I was picking up pine branches at my prior house in Bridgeport and almost grabbed the midsection of a snake in the process.  He was just lying there on the grass, blending in with the sticks.  Kumquat Theory.  I’m telling you he looked just like a pine branch on the outside.



Old guys and I seem to get along, mostly because I like their stories.  Little Old Ladies and I, eh, let’s just say  …. Kumquat Theory.  Some of them do not tread lightly on the land, nor other people’s feelings.  Like the one who used to tease me where I work.  One day she would tell me she doesn’t like dogs.  The next day she is asking if I have a litter of puppies still at my house.  She feigns interest in the puppies, I show her a picture of them (well, okay a few on my cellphone).  Then she gives me this patronizing look like I’m a simpleton for my love of dogs.  I retain polite composure and pretend it doesn’t hurt my feelings.  I always walk away feeling like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football from him mid-charge.  The last time I spoke to her she said she used to give her dog raisins … and then suggested with a wicked smile that I try feeding them to my dogs.  I looked it up with an online search:  Raisins cause kidney failure in dogs and kills them.  Kumquat Theory.  I never take the time to speak to her anymore.



I am at a loss at present to think of another example of the Kumquat Theory but perhaps you have one?  If it’s hard for you to remember what to call that experience, just remember what they taught us on Sesame Street:  One of these things is NOT like the other!
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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Social Politics of the Office Candy Jar



The Social Politics of the Office Candy Jar

Despite the optimism of the old song, “the times, they aren’t a-changin’.”  Over a decade ago, I worked in a very small office with one other person.  So excited to have my own office space, I put a jar of candy out for those people who would come in to see us for meetings and the like.  Our supervisor would come in daily… and within three days had single-handedly cleaned-out the jar.  He said, “Gee, I’ll have to bring some candy in to fill up the jar.”  (No kidding, Sherlock.  You wiped us out!)

I waited.  The jar remained empty.  Eventually, I put the jar away.  It didn’t seem right that someone making, oh, three times my salary couldn’t cough up a bag of candy occasionally.  I sure as hell wasn’t going to continue feeding HIM.  Oh no, don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge him sharing our candy; but he didn’t share it:  he wiped us out like locusts going through a wheat field!

Years later, my current office has re-instituted a candy jar.  Intriguingly it was just toward the end of Lent … when a lot of people “give up sweets or candy” as a religious penitential practice.  Well, our office apparently wasn’t participating in that foray into monastic practice.  One person magnanimously kept filling the jar with an old fashioned favorite:  “Werthers.”  Then someone else called me from a shopping excursion to ask if another brand was acceptable.  I approved.  After all, if you are going to ask the opinion of someone, of anyone, about a food that has potential as a fattener, you ask…. The Fat Chick.

Put your eyebrows back on your head.  I coined the title myself and I revel in it.  For a while I thought of calling my blog “Ask the Fat Chick” but decided too many people wouldn’t roll with my sense of humor.  And, when all is said and done, I am trying to write for my readers – and to encourage some general civil sensibility amongst the human community.   I am also writing to give my ironic thought process a venue. 

So here I am sitting with a jar of Doves or Hershey’s behind me and I am observing the way people relate to pure opportunity.  I type away, but I can hear the stealth person that slides over to that counter and gently lifts the lid to ferret a piece of heaven out.  Inevitably it is their nerves that cause them to accidentally “clunk” the lid on the jar or the counter.  I spin around and say:  “Caught you!” 
Some people chuckle and walk away with the chocolates.  Others look embarrassed for a moment and I have to coax them into taking a couple to their desk.

Other people come through and lift the lid as if they are checking a pot of stewing tomatoes.  “Hmmmm… just looking to see ….”  Yeah, right.  Just looking.  Sure.  And I’ve got a bridge in Apache Junction, Arizona, to sell you.  That’s the person, the “just looking” person, who is going to take four or five and clean us out by the end of the day …. and not replace them.

I am not beyond asking someone (because I am over 50 by a few years now):  “So what will you be bringing in when it’s your turn to fill the jar?”  And I have.  And I liked doing it.  That’s what makes it bad, or naughty.  If you eat, then you contribute also to the stash.  That’s the rule.

Today someone left a dozen donuts in front of me.  I have nerves of steel and didn’t even have ONE.  Well, I also had a hunk of baked oatmeal I was working on, which is more properly thought of as “oatmeal cake with chocolate chips” for breakfast.  The donuts were not calling to me.  I did open the lid to look at them so they wouldn’t think I wasn’t a fan anymore.  Donuts are very sensitive and need to feel well-liked.  I would never hurt the feelings of a donut if I could avoid it.  Donuts are important in our society:  they keep our police forces working.  If I owned a donut shop, I would make a special donut the shape of a badge with blue frosting on it.  If a person came in wearing a badge, they could automatically have a donut for free.  I’m nice like that.

But sometimes I am not nice.  I can be, ah, shall we say, a bit testy?  Like when there is a box of fresh donuts sitting on the counter and someone cuts a third of one and takes it back to their desk it makes me very unreasonable.  I do not care about your diet.  (Reference other blogs where I bash the dieting thing.)  But if you cut a donut, the part that is left behind gets stale exponentially FASTER than the piece you took.  I don’t know why it works that way, but it is Donut Physics and it is true.  It is proven in offices everywhere across our nation on a weekly basis.  If I was a little old chef who “cookit the donuts” I would take a spatula and swat your hand!  “You!  No cutta my donuts all up in little pieces!  They go bad!  Then nobody want them!” 

Maybe I should just have a candy jar and donuts at my house.  Then I wouldn’t be such a corrections officer about the people who swing by “just to look.”  Maybe I’d be completely enormous watching tv and eating junk food and feeding the dogs goldfish crackers by popping them in the air.  Wait, I think they call that “retirement.”



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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Gambling with Intent - Part 2


Gambling with Intent - PART 2.


Yet a decade later, casino-resorts began popping up around the United States.  Little old ladies from outlying neighborhoods were bused-in for BINGO! Night that was augmented by flashing lights, music, and silliness.  I guess that is a lot bigger draw than sitting on the front porch watching the grass grow.  Young adults would come out for an evening of poker and liquor and the fantasy of going home in some way a winner.  Middle aged people stroll through the casino after enjoying a nice dinner in a nearby restaurant.  Out of town visitors came to eat cannoli, enjoy the waterfalls (indoor or outdoor) and get a break from their hum-drum lives.  You get the idea.

For at least five years I held out against casino gambling.  My main concern was for the people that would gamble away their social security and go home destitute and sad.  I don’t know any of those people, but I am aware it happens more often than not.  I have a friend who grew up in Las Vegas and we had a conversation about the sociological fall-out of gambling that always gives me pause.  The Philadelphia area did a study quite recently about the impact of smaller casinos that were opened in suburban neighborhoods.  Their study is an important read for any community considering small casino placement.

But for my purposes, I wanted to check out the larger casino environment and see what was to be seen.  My partner in this faux-crime coaxed her husband to come out with us for dinner to check out a casino at a horse track.  It was a snowy, bitter winter night when smart people would stay home.  But then again, that describes about five months out of the year where we live, so we acclimate and venture out. 

We sat down in a dining room that reminded me of a giant chess board…. With large people as the pieces on the board.  The buffet was mediocre at best.  The ambiance, for a place that had recently been up-graded, just didn’t have a cozy feel to it.  We got up to venture to the gaming area while her husband sat and “watched” our coats… and kind of napped I think.  For each of us, we did pretty well on our first machine and cashed out.  We walked over to her husband who presumed that we had been shamed by the Gambling House, and clearly he wasn’t paying attention to our giggling like school girls.  Once we got outside of the range of other ears we both told him how well we did on the first machines we tried.  I consider walking out with $40 in my pocket very good when I had only put in ten.  He was incredulous that we had any luck.  I wonder if beginners luck has less to do with the beginner than it does with the way slot machines respond to cards that have never been used before.  It is a theory.

For our next outing, we went to a more resort-style casino.  I had already put my personal preservation rules out verbally to my friend for the sake of not getting sucked in by the siren’s call of the slot machines.  It went as follows:

#1)  I set an amount that I would use to play, and would not exceed that amount of my own money.

#2)  I stayed on the penny slot machines because you lose a lot more slowly that way.

#3)  If the machine did not give-back by the time I had put 50% of my money into it, I declared that machine “cold” and switched to a different machine.  (Actually my Aunt coined the term “cold” – credit where it’s due.)

#4)  If the machine went up over $50 in winnings, I gave it three more pushes to keep going up.  If it just started to go down on those three tries, I pulled the winnings and called it a day.

The corollary to all of these shenanigans is my friend’s far simpler rule:
You play like crazy and once you win back your original investment, you pull just that much out, put it in your pocket, and play on what’s left.  Theoretically, you are only “losing” the house money.  She treats the game as a time occupier; while I treat it like an ATM.  I want to pull more money out, not just keep myself busy.

Here’s where the psychological study came to the fore.  I asked questions and identified answers like: 

What makes someone choose a particular machine initially?

Does a woman playing the machine who is overweight or on an oxygen tank choose a machine that has a sexy blonde on it because she wishes it was her?


Does a man choose a slot machine with dragons on it because he perceives himself as mystical and sneaky?

I played Queen Isabella because I absolutely loved the sound of fireworks going off whenever it gave me some winnings.

My one friend plays a game that has the same name as her dog.

My other friend plays the games with horses on them.

I enjoyed the game Splitting Hares because the bunnies were cute, the lady bugs on the home screen fluttered and moved around, and I, for some reason, did really well on that machine.  Then it disappeared.  The machines were always being switched, moved, jockeyed to another location on the floor.  I wonder why that is?  Hmmm….

There is an unwritten code of Casino Etiquette.  Or maybe not.  Perhaps some people have manners that they utilize in any environment, and others are jerks and do not.  Case in point: The woman sitting next to me was smoking.  The ash tray was on the wrist board in front of me.  I discreetly moved it to the left to be on her area for her use.  She held up her cigarette, as if she wasn’t aware it was blowing directly into my face.  I cleared my throat.  Soon thereafter I got up and left.  She won.  Not the slot machine.  She got to move the ash tray back and I walked away appalled.

How do I feel when I win?  I never played in competitive sports, other than board games, so I don’t know what it feels like to kick the goal that wins the game or provide a perfect assist.  When the computer, oops, I mean slot machine, in front of me leads me to believe that I have “won” money, I feel proud.  I also coddle that feeling in a quiet way so that people around me don’t know how happy I am to feel “lucky.”  Only occasionally I tap the wrist board like an excited rabbit.  It’s quirky, I know.

When the money starts “crashing” and I’m losing fast, where is my brain?  The logical part of me says:  This is gambling.  This is what this machine is designed for – to take my money – when it gives me money, that is an aberration, not the norm.  It is at this point that a gambler can be “born” – the minute, in the midst of crashing numbers, that your brain says,“it will rebound.  It will come back up again,” you have entered into the center of the boa constrictor’s zone.  Repeat after me:  “It does not have any moral obligation to rebound.  It most likely will not come back up again.  This is designed to engage you and then leave you penniless.  That’s why they call it gambling.”  This is a mantra.  
It is necessary to not gamble unless you can maintain this concept, or it will squeeze the cash right out of you every single time with you thinking there is a shred of justice in the machine and it might pay you back this time.  It is not designed to work that way.  It is a tease-disappoint-tease-again scheme.


Do I feel compelled to go more often?  If I have lost my original $20, I walk away and am glad that I have also set time-parameters on how frequently I can go to “make a donation” to the Casino employees.  If I have won, I am also glad for those parameters because it keeps me from being dragged into a mentality that somehow I can replicate this moment.  New mantra:  I cannot make this happen again.  No rabbit’s foot, no troll doll in my pocket, no mystical feeling can predict the next time I will win.  There is no water-witching divining rod for this enterprise.  There is just this time, this way.  There are no obligations or givens.

How often do I intend to do this?  Not often.  Mostly I can think of more exciting ways to lose my money…. like lighting a dollar bill on fire.  (and then you go to jail for a federal offense and meet handsome jail guards?  Well, that’s not a given either.) 

Do I plan to buy Life Insurance any time soon?  Nope. 
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Gambling with Intent - Part 1 of 2


Gambling with Intent                     


My sociological intrusion into the world of casino gambling was, of itself, a calculated risk.  The bet I was making was that I was stronger than gambling itself and could pass into that arena on an exploratory basis to study the way I felt as I gambled, as well as to observe the people around me and draw some understanding from that experience.  I wanted to see and draw some of my own conclusions.  It is only in retrospect that I can identify how much gambling is embedded in the cultural framework of my upbringing.

I grew up surrounded by the casual interference of low-risk gambling within the weave of life events.  For sake of interest and comparison I mention that my religion even has a reference to gambling which was never addressed as a negative, only as a matter of fact statement:  While Jesus hung dying on the cross, the New Testament gospel writer says that the soldiers “cast lots for his garment” since they didn’t want to tear it.  It really has less to do with gambling than it has to do with the concept of not wrecking a nice tunic. 

My friend’s religion, another expression of Christianity, sees that story as an example of the evils of gambling.  I kind of shrug my shoulders and walk away with the sense of: it was about two guys trying to decide in an unbiased way of who gets the “goods.”

During my high school years, I remember many churches in my denomination used to utilize the game of BINGO! for purposes of paying salaries for their school teachers.  A decade later, I found it ironic that in one city parish, BINGO! was on one night and Gamblers Anonymous met another night.  Same facility; different agenda.  When I took a pastor to task on this – I know, just imagine me doing that – his response was that Life Insurance is, essentially, gambling:  You are betting them you WILL die an untimely death; the Insurance Company is betting that you WON’T.   This is one of those cases were you raise one eyebrow and end up responding, “Yes.  But that doesn’t make it right. 


A decade later, a new family tradition began in my world:  lottery tickets at major holidays.  One member of my family routinely wished everyone a happy holiday (whichever it was) and added, “And this year, may someone in the family hit MegaBucks!”  Another relative would say, “You’d have a better chance of getting hit by lightning.”  And in the end I’d find my own mouth forming the words:  “Well, somebody’s got to win.  My shred of cosmic optimism is one of the most dangerous mindsets in the arena of gambling because it is what keeps you at the slot machine for another ten dollars’ worth of loss, but I digress.  To the point: the spin off to all of us otherwise hard-working, sane-minded people (in varying degrees I suppose) was that we would get about 30 lottery tickets and evenly distribute the same to people around the table who would soon begin scratching like a country dog in the summer heat.  The loser tickets were handed over to the children for double-checking.  I remarked to my sister-in-law that perhaps Child Protective Services would take a different view of the way the Polish families teach their kids math.

During my young adult years I kept company with a dear friend that enjoyed the horse races.  So, like an annual ritual, once or twice a year – during the summer – a few of us would drive out to the nearby track to have dinner and enjoy the racing phenomenon.  Because at least two of us were, well, as poor as church mice, we looked at our wagers as entertainment in lieu of seeing a movie or some other venue.  The ongoing argument we had was how, by what philosophy of gambling, would the bets be selected.  I will call my friend John Patrick.  John Patrick believed that you bet on one horse per race, to win.  Our friend Michaelango would bet on a horse usually based on the tips provided by the guy who wrote the newspaper column identifying the favorites.  His wife would bet on a horse because she liked its name.  

And then there was me, the geek.  I used the tips from the newspaper column, did not bet on every race, but I bet on not one, but TWO horses … to come in Second Place.  This drove John Patrick crazy.  He said I was “betting the horses against each other.”  Yes.  And, no.  I was betting that even though these horses were top picks to win, they may have a fault and at least one of them should come in second place.  With each bet costing $2, it seemed reasonable that if one of the two won, I’d at least re-coup my $4 spent.  All of these theories being topped by my friend’s mother’s propensity to bet only on the last race:  She would look at the jockeys of the horses who won each race, identify the jockey who had not won at all that night and for the tenth race bet on him.  In fact, she was betting with the idea that the whole thing was rigged.  I miss those days.  That kind of gambling, for us, was very communal, engaging, and quite funny.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

If You See Something ...


If You See Something, Don’t Just SAY Something!

I caught his gaze, but couldn’t de-code the emotion behind it.  I was flattered that he looked at me – him being so handsome.  He had that George Clooney, salt-and-pepper hair, a khaki trench coat, and just emanated an “I am a professional, successful, wealthy male.”  Frankly, he seemed out of place in the pizza take-out line, but, as they say, “any port in a storm” -  I’ll take in good scenery whenever it’s around.  It was just his look that puzzled me.  Well, until I got in my vehicle.  Then the pieces came together.

I gently placed the small pizza on the passenger seat.  I made sure the lid was popped so I could eat a few pieces on the way home – ahhh, slightly crispy mushrooms and juicy chunks of pineapple!  I could hardly contain myself.  I straighten-ed myself in the seat; my right hand reached across to the left shoulder to grab the seatbelt and pull it across my body to “click it.”  Then I saw my entire left arm of my black winter jacket.  From the top of the shoulder all the way down past the elbow was colored chalk.  My favorite profanity slipped out of my mouth as easily as it would come out of the bull.  I began fervently brushing off the marks and smudges with a dry napkin.  Now I know why he was looking at me.  And then it came to me:  Why didn’t he SAY SOMETHING?

If all of these campaigns across the whole USA are screaming at us:  “If you see something, SAY SOMETHING,” can we expect a person who does not respond to CHALK DUST to respond to more dangerous things?! 

I am concerned with the cultural inertia that we are prisoner to.  After 40 years of protesting a different area of injustice, I come to question the political value of marches.  But I will never doubt the importance of marches that are prayer vigils.  As the Good Book tells us:  

"Let us rend our hearts, not our garments."



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Considering The Woodsman



It was an extraordinary opportunity, kind of like seeing a bald eagle, or perhaps the mystical white buffalo.  He sat perfectly camouflaged on his front step.  I was rounding the bend of the road rather slowly otherwise I would have missed this rare sighting entirely.  I don’t think he wants to be seen, but I see him.  I watch him.  I wonder about him.  I pray for him.

When I first moved to the country, I reckoned his place to be one of the many abandoned farm houses that dot our countryside.  They are a testimony to the change in our society and its values.  Sometimes I even put the party-line bumper sticker on my car:  “No Farms.  No Food.”  It is a way of life that seems to have almost evaporated, yet the fact that I can pull a half gallon of milk out of my refrigerator every morning is evidence that someone, somewhere is milking cows successfully.

His house has character. I imagine it was a lustrous white at one time.  It is not spooky, but it is large with two debris-cluttered porches on adjoining sides of the house.  The railings are broken or non-existent.  The house, like him it seems, has a weather-beaten ambiance to it.  There are giant trees that have crashed willy-nilly on his property and lay there, probably on his very long to-do list.  Last year, he did some sort of wood clean-up behind his garage that involved stacking and chopping.  It was the clearest evidence I had that someone actually was associated with that house. 

There is no mailbox.  Perhaps he has a post office box.  Or perhaps he has no need to receive all of the charity requests, bills, advertisements, and the like that are crammed into my own mailbox on a daily basis.  I envy him if he has found a way to beat the system. 

A truck that has seen better days sits in a threateningly permanent pose on its flat tires on the driveway.  This truck makes Fred Sanford’s humble junkyard pick up resemble a Beamer.  I’m just saying.  More recently, a smaller car has been parked in after the truck, its operating condition also in the questionable status.  The back tire sure looks low but if you have to get to a hospital or some such thing, I guess it could get you there.
Not only are there crashed trees around the house, but smaller standing trees.  They function like Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men:  they seem to encircle the house itself as if to shield it from the eyes of the curious.  That would be me.  I am just curious.  I study people and I study habitats and this combination fascinates me. 

The house does not have a welcome sign on it, that’s for sure.  But he is a human being, and I acknowledge that he must have some thoughts and feelings that are important to him.  I wonder if he has people with whom he shares those ruminations.  I wonder if he has stories of the old ways that he would be glad to tell to friends over coffee at the diner.  Did his family work the canal?  Did they work the rail yard?  Did they farm the land across the street from his forlorn-looking home?

I know that Norman Rockwell would have found a way to capture the image of this man and his dog sitting on the front porch.  He probably could have done it all in camo-colors:  army green, greys, ash, and a gentle sunlight through leafless grey trees.  It is the first almost-nice day with an unusually high temperature for February (65 degrees!).  The man sat there on the stoop in nondescript jeans and a workshirt of some type – I imagine flannel or the like.  His beard went down about a foot from his chin it seems.  He sat like a man who was just sitting for the sake of setting there.  No plan.  No “next thing.”  No agenda…  Just sitting in the company of the proverbial best friend – a scraggly looking dog who probably means the entire world to the guy.  And dogs, being the perfect example of being-for-the-sake-of-being, that dog just sat on the step with him, taking in the moment when heaven and earth seemed to touch a little more closely: a warm day in February, a man enjoying sunshine and clouds with a willing companion.


Rarely do I see light coming from that house.  In fact, only twice in seven years have I seen evidence of light there:  a bulb hanging in the plastic-covered window one winter night.  Is there heat in that house?  A roaring wood stove to cook what I imagine he eats?  I hear-tell that he is a trapper.  I hope that he has a real meal every now and then.  Maybe a niece cooks for him?  Or does he have a sister-in-law that says to her husband:  “Go down there and haul your brother over here for a decent meal tonight, won’t ya?”

My musings in his regard will continue.  Mostly because I think when I get older and can’t keep pace with my house, I may be in the same predicament.  But also truly because all of the mystique about a regular guy who just chops lumber at a house that is aging badly deserves to be considered.  He is the symbol of every one of us who gets out of bed in the morning and fights the atrophy around us.  We clean houses that don’t seem to stay clean.  We work jobs that seem circuitous in their tasks.  We know that some things just will never push high enough on our to-do list to suit the outside critics.  And in the long run, all that really needs to fill us is the moment of sitting in a cast of stray sunshine on the stoop with our dog who loves us just for who we are, not for what we do or don’t do.  That’s the thing that makes it all worthwhile.
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Monday, January 29, 2018

Die-with-a-T



Diet is “Die” with a T on it to distract you.  I’m just sayin’

A friend of mine is one of those health-conscious eaters.  She is very lean.  I worry about her because if there is ever a famine in the land she will have no fat stored to live off of.  It will just be the beefers and me, like a new brand of super-heroes, sizes 12 and up, saving mankind.  I don’t know what we will be doing, but I know that we will have the longevity, if we can get up out of our recliners and couches to rescue the planet.

I may have mentioned before that she tried to “convert” me to not drinking cow’s milk and not eating meat.  I aint buying it.  But she did say something intriguing about the therapeutic properties of apple cider vinegar.  I was initially leery because ACV (the insiders/believers call apple cider vinegar “ACV.”) is allegedly good for so many other things:  cleaning your oven, trapping and killing fruit flies, and a few other surprising and gross things.  I wonder if it also can be poured on a car battery to clean up grime and battery acid leaks – someone once proposed using coca cola for the same activity but I have never tried it… and continue to ingest coca cola myself <insert my proud, mischievous smile right here>.

So, in search of a homeopathic aid, I came upon yet another recommendation for ACV…  this time, as a tea.  What could be bad about tea?  This is the recipe:  a slice of lemon, 1-2 Tbsp ACV, ¼ tspn ground cinnamon, 1 tspn ginger, 1 Tbspn honey and almost boiling water.  It sounded do-able.  The recommended use was once daily for five days … any more than that, the recipe warns, may damage your tooth enamel.  Again I reference my speculation on cleaning car batteries. 

I have tasted this tea (and, yes, swallowed it) for three days now.  You were wondering what could be bad about tea?  I propose “nothing …. As long as you are washing it down with a cinnamon roll or a muffin.”  Eventually the attempts at healthy eating just become excuses for eating what you really wanted to have the first time!

Exhibit #2.  The People vs. Healthy Drinks.

SO picture me driving down the road on a Saturday afternoon – and I am thirsty and hungry at the same time – like the planets lining up, except I don’t have time for a real meal.  I have just finished grocery shopping for Lady #2.  Only fifteen minutes prior, I was standing before the yogurt cooler case and looking for just a smoothie that had some sort of berries in it, but I don’t want one of those all-juice ones that they hit you $3 for a six ounce bottle.  I grab this small container and it says “Berries” on it in a prominent space.  That was all I needed to see, or so I thought.  Again I move you to the point where I’m in my car, singing with the radio, loving life, feeling hungry-yet-hopeful.  I stop at the traffic light, simultaneously taking the opportunity to remove the little foil lid.  I touch the gas pedal slightly, the wind flows through my hair, I lift the drink to my lips.  BWAUGH!  If that is a word, that is the sound I made as the drink slipped down the hatch and the after-taste caught up with me.  My eyeballs popped slightly.  I squinted and snuck a glance at the container in my hand. 

Then I saw the words “two servings of veggies.”  What the bleep.  Why would veggies co-exist with berries?  Then I’m wondering if it’s like the trick that tomatoes play on everyone:  tomatoes are really fruit, except we market them as a vegetable to give the rest of the vegetables a good name.  It works.  Some of you are saying, “tomato is NOT a fruit.”  Okay, don’t believe me, look it up.

Let me say I am not about to make peace with the vegetable community just because One of them is a fraud and tastes good.  But I will be much more careful when reading labels of my yogurt-like drinks.  For the record, one of the two veggies in the drink was “beet.”  Now I ask you:  under what circumstances would anyone want to eat beets?! 

Because I am a magnanimous person, I just want to warn all of you out there who are trying to take a baby-step towards healthier eating:  READ THE LABELS.  You could ingest something that has little nutritional value and no taste for no good reason.  Like beets.  I am proud to have taken-one-for-the-team in this instance but I am also willing to work with  you on a class-action lawsuit against the stealth practices of these drink makers.  Be careful!

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I dedicate this column to A&T, who always want to help me eat healthier… things like veggie straws with no taste.
If you want to discuss the eating issue again, I will meet you at Dunkin’.