My recent decision–really more my pants’ decision–that I need to shed a pound or ten, has caused an unforeseen problem. As some of you (henceforth known as the “lucky ones”) may recall from past e-mail conversations with me, I have referred to certain “demons” that have plagued me for some time. But for those of you not fortunate enough to have heard it all before, let me explain: my demons are but a metaphor for those innumerable half-baked ideas for stories, essays, lists, fake testimonials for books I have not read, annoying e-mails, and any other unasked-for written material I may have sent you.
The demons used to badger me incessantly to write these ideas down by banging with tiny…but surprisingly loud…hammers on tiny anvils from the inside of my skull. What these anvils were doing inside my skull, I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the demons. Now I’ve come to find out that all this racket was probably due to my uncontrolled caffeine intake. Perhaps my uncontrolled pinot grigio intake as well, although this is more painful to admit.
Also, the demons–these ideas for stories–would always come at the most inopportune times: while watching my favorite TV show, or while having a phone conversation with my mother, or during sex. Since I’m sometimes engaged in all three activities simultaneously, you can imagine my mental anguish contending with their din while trying to hear my TV program. Mostly they prevail during my shower, which I find to be absolutely necessary immediately after speaking with my mother.
Here is the problem that my decision to go on a diet has caused: Certain foods are now restricted and this has had some implications on my output and the imaginative quality of my writing. The South Beach Diet sounded doable. I bought the book and read up on it. Lots of eggs. Lots of cheese. I’m thinking, this is great, I’m a big fan of eggs and cheese and I’ve got the cholesterol levels to back that up. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call this diet a “piece of cake” because they’re pretty clear on that one.
Proteins are encouraged, so that means reasonably-sized portions of beef, turkey, chicken, or fish. Good thing I’m unrepentantly carnivorous. I’ve got no problem with the slaughter of innocent animals for my benefit, provided they are killed in a swift, merciful, and delicious manner.
No sweets, cakes, or cookies…so far so good. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. No chocolate, it says–sweet fancy Moses!–for some people that would be the deal-breaker right there. It’s common knowledge that many people approach homicidal lunacy when deprived of this highly addictive, yet paradoxically tranquilizing, substance. (I’m thinking mainly of menopausal women here; I seem to remember reading this in some book that rejected my story on menopause. I think it was because I forgot to push chocolate as a survival tip, and instead advocated Vicodin and/or wine to help with menopausal symptoms.) But for me, chocolate–meh, not such a big deal. I could do without.
Wait a minute here, no bread? This is getting tricky. I’m a recovering breadoholic and I may go through withdrawal without my bread fix. What? No pasta either? This could trigger seizures. God, what do these South Bitches want from me–a pound of flesh? Actually, several; that is the general idea. Well, OK, one must sacrifice for a desired result, mustn’t one?
I read on. My eyes skip ahead and inadvertently see something they do not wish to see. I’m wading through the part that explains that this diet can jump-start weight loss if you omit certain key items from your diet. It explains that you must follow these rules to the letter during the initial two-week phase for it to work. This is the message that my eyes are afraid to send to my brain: No caffeine. At all. Decaf all the way. And WHAT? No alcohol of any kind! No beer. No wine. No pinot grigio. Well, that just tears it. Sigh. I’ll have to go on Weight Watchers–I hear they allow moderate amounts of alcohol on their program. I’m just talking about the occasional glass or four of wine. Per night. I suppose this could lead to membership in another popular addiction recovery program for people with a different problem. I wonder if Weight Watchers is a feeder for that other group I won’t name here. (I’ll give you a hint: the addiction is not centered on food, their members prefer to remain anonymous, and their initials are A.A.—I may have said too much.)
So now the demons have left the building, and it’s very quiet here. It’s a fine thing to find out at this late date that what you thought was a moderate talent for writing, is in reality a wildly-skewed chemical reaction in your brain caused by certain addictive substances that you chose to ingest. My muses are named Caffeine and Alcohol and they are bitches. Banning them from my life, even if only temporarily, exacts a cruel revenge in the form of writer’s block and lethargy.
But we do what we must. My pants have spoken.