Sunday, February 4, 2007


On Saturday I drove to Costco to buy a folding card table. A young man in his own jeans and a store-issued green plaid shirt checked the inventory on the computer and said there were no card tables in stock, but I should check back around Father's Day. Father's Day? Yes, that's when they have card tables. This caught me off guard. Was I supposed to have given my father a card table? It would never have occurred to me in a million years.

So there I was, in a gigantic warehouse store with nothing to do and no shopping list, so I wandered. Back in the '70s I would hear stories about Soviet emigres, after consumer-deprived lifetimes of standing in long lines in empty shops, getting their first dazzling glimpse of American supermarkets. I've been in American supermarkets all my life, but Costco has that same effect on me. Abundance! Hyper-abundance! Mega-giga-tera-abundance!

Everything is multiple. Nobody would go there to buy one of anything, when here is the world packaged in super-economy size. There are 24-packs of Snickers, and 5-pound bags of dried cranberries, and shrink-wrapped pallets of bottled juice, and 4-packs of lace thongs, and 12-packs of crew socks and 250-packs of kitchen garbage bags.

My father, the father whom I never gave a card table, grew up in the Depression, and may have had an abundance issue. Once, when he owned a house on a tiny lake in South Jersey, he bought me a very big aluminum canoe. Too big really, too big for the lake and too big for me. "Why so big?" I asked. " He said, "It didn't cost much more than the smaller ones."

My father was overweight most of his adult life. He was a gourmet cook and a gourmet eater. He died young, at 59, in the Houston airport. May I give you some advice? Never read the autopsy report of anyone you love. Along with a number of other facts, both routine and pathological, the Harris County medical examiner noted his weight: 210 pounds.


  1. Ever thought of doing something else, besides eating, in abundance? What about exercising? It sounds crazy and maybe impossible, but it can be done.
    Or what about eating something healthy in abundance? I dare you to eat 100 grapes in one sitting for a snack before dinner. Then tell me you had two helpings.

  2. That's a chilling little detail. Your death weight. The final number. Your Dad's number, 210, was probably considered in the "obese" range, even though, to me, it represents a number of seemingly unattainable smallness.

    Do you know the actual meaning of "sarcophagus?" Flesh-eater. A sardonic view of the relationship between a dead body and its container. One could consider it the ultimate, final diet.

    My own intention is cremation. A nearly complete loss of weight. At last, an instant solution.

  3. Any change involves saying farewells. It may be helpful, if painful, to consider the question: if I lose weight, will I be distancing myself from someone important? Am I emotionally ready for the pain of separating from that person? If I am not ready for the pain of separation, does my previous difficulty in following diets take on a different meaning?


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