When I was a boy and I refused to eat my peas, which was often, my mother would tell me there were children starving in China.
I don't think mothers have said this for many years now. But back in the 1950s and even into the 1960s if a kid didn't finish his dinner his mother would accuse him of starving people in China.
I never really understood what my not eating peas had to do with people starving in China. I certainly didn't want people in China to starve and I would have gladly given them my peas if it could have helped.
But this is the way things were way back then.
The point is I was taught to always eat everything on my plate. People would starve if I didn't finish everything on my plate. This kind of thinking continued into my adulthood when I would go home and visit my mother in the Chicago suburbs.
Mother: "You're looking very prosperous."
Me: "What are you talking about. I'm broke. I spent my last change on tolls to drive up here."
Mother: "You look like you're spending all your money on food."
Me: "So you think Iím fat. Well, it's your fault. You're the one who told me I had to eat everything in front of me."
Mother: "Sure, blame your mother for everything. That's what mothers are for. To take the blame. Sit down and have some donuts. I made a chocolate cake. There's some fresh coffee cake with cherry topping on the counter. I just got it from the baker. Eat!"
Me: "I thought you said I was fat."
Mother: "Eat. There are children starving in China."
Never argue with your mother. It says that in the Bible and like everything in the Bible it's a good idea because you will not win an argument with your mother no matter how hard you try. You'll just end up feeling guilty because she birthed you and raised you and you fought with her about eating peas.
Sadly my mother is gone now. I can longer blame by weight gains on her forcing me to eat everything on my plate, the table, the refrigerator and cupboards to boot.
All of this is on my mind this week because we are heading straight into the fat season. And the reason I am overweight today is not because of my mother. It's because of women in the workplace.
Men at the office today are a lot fatter than they used to be.
That's because in the old days men at the office did not get together before they left work and say "let's all bake Christmas cookies, and pudding and pies tonight and bring them in tomorrow and we'll have a party."
Women do wonderful work. They contribute equally to men at the office and in many cases superiorly. Men and women working together create an end product that is better than either gender could do alone.
But women do tend to bring a lot of food into the office, especially at this time of year when they enjoy showing off their baking skills.
I remember my days at the office before I retired.
First women: "Let's have an office holiday party tomorrow. I'll bring homemade cookies and a Swedish Tearing."
Second woman: "I'll bring in my special homemade meatballs, homemade French Onion Soup and I'll bake a ham."
Third woman: "I can bring homemade bread and rolls, my special holiday salad and my famous Christmas Delight vegetable dish."
Fourth woman: "I'll bring appetizers and homemade pies."
Me: "I'll bring a bag of potato chips."
Give me a break! I like potato chips.
First woman: "No, John. You have to bring in something homemade and there's one other thing you have to being in with it."
Me: "What's that?"
First woman: "A note from your wife saying you made it and not her. You're not going to dump this off on your wife."
Me: "I might just call in sick tomorrow."
Second woman: "No you won't. There's no way you're going to pass on eating all this great food. Tonight, you bake."
That evening at home:
Me: "We have to make something homemade for the office party tomorrow."
Wife: "No we don't. The women at your office called me. You have to make something homemade."
Me: "What am I going to make?"
Wife: "I don't know. What is your favorite thing during the holidays."
Wife: "That's not what I meant. What's your favorite thing to make?"
Me: "Cheese and crackers."
Wife: "I don't know what you're going to do this evening. But Iím turning on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and I'm going to relax."
I showed up at work the next day with a "homemade" cheesecake from the grocery story and a forged note from my wife saying I had been up all night cooking. I knew I'd get caught. But I figured by the time they got me the party would be over, I'd have eaten 4,000 calories of unbelievably great holiday food and what would I care.
Lately, in retirement, I've been on a very good diet prescribed for me by my physician, Dr. Lowcarbs. I'm losing weight, I'm off diabetes medicine, and my statin and blood pressure medicines have been cut in half. This works.
Dr. Lowcarbs: "Do you know what's coming?"
Me: "Of course. Thanksgiving."
Doctor: "No. It's Carbsgiving. With potatoes, rolls, bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, pies and everything else they're going to give you at dinner next Thursday you'll have enough carbs to last you for the whole year. What are you going to do?"
Me: "If I don't eat everything in front of me people in China will starve."
Doctor: "You do know, don't you, that I can have you locked up in the hospital until January 2."
Dr. Lowcarbs is also a mother I knew there was no use in arguing with her.
She gave me recipes for low carb pies and low carb stuffing. I gave them to my wife who says she will prepare them.
And I will eat them. I can do this!
I also carve the turkey and remove the breaded stuffing from the bird in a room where I am all by myself. And if about half of that stuffing ends up in my mouth Ė well, it's not my fault. It's the fault of women who overfed me all these years.
And there will be plenty of low carb stuffing left to serve our guests.
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