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January 9, 2005

The Ups and Downs of the New Year

Tom McLaughlin

(Editor's Note: The Tentacle is proud and happy to welcome Tom McLaughlin to its electronic pages. Tom's musings center on the humor of life and not the mundane and muddled political issues that stir the ire of our regular contributors. So we hope you'll enjoy his weekly contributions.)

I have started my new diet and exercise program. This New Year's resolution I intend to keep. Most of them are given up for Lent which is around six weeks before Easter or when "the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars." Whichever comes first.

The Super Bowl will bring a cheating break and a chip and dip feast washed down by gallons of beer. Not that lite stuff or kiss of the hops. Just old fashioned dregs of dollar a six-pack blind-drunk beer. The pass out kind by kickoff.

Determined to loose weight and become sexy to attract dates, I acquired a bathroom scale and set it to kilograms. This made me feel good as I immediately lost about a hundred pounds. Wow! Such positive reinforcement.

An abs cruncher, advertised on late night television for $49.95, was purchased with a maxed-out credit card in secret hopes it would be declined. I was wavering. No such luck.

I did not want one of those expensive exercise machines, which end up being an additional clothes hanger and small chest of drawers/ closet combo. These $200-$400 torture devices can be purchased at any auction for a few dollars around April when your partner decides your "tomorrows" last a few weeks.

Each morning, I sit down on a straight backed chair (you can not use a recliner, believe me, I tried) put the devise on my thighs and grab the handles to pull the thing down while flexing the abs. I have to suck in my belly to find a place for it. The directions recommend I keep my back straight, arms locked and head forward, something I haven't done in years. Slouch is my favorite past time. This discipline thing is hard because my memory gives way and I usually forget a step or two in the exercise program, mainly where I hid the thing from myself each morning.

The diet part is a lot harder. My beloved chocolate cookies had to go along with the fresh pure local Middletown dairy bottles with the plug of cream at the top. I switched to the 2% and thought I was drinking dissolved chalk. The recommended diet fig cookies tasted like glue with small seeds. After a couple of them, you never want to eat again.

II love grease. Eggs fried after the sausage has been cooked, anything wrapped in bacon and pork chop tailings poured over the fried potatoes. Olive oil should remain in the cartoons with Popeye or mopped up with Sponge Bob. Sadly, I realized these wonderful flavors had to go because anything that tasted that good could not possibly be part of any diet.

I went to the local bookstore and checked out the weight loss books which occupied a section the size of a Sam's Club. There were diets for every conceivable occupation, religion and economic status. I spent an afternoon flipping through them and they all said the same thing.join Bessie and Belvedere in the pasture and graze.

For those new to the column, Bessie and Belvedere are my two bovine friends who live in Middletown. They are figments of my imagination. I hope. Bessie wears a straw hat with a sunflower attached while Belvedere sports a bowler and bow tie. Both were outsourced to India but flew home when milk prices reached an all time high to help farmer.

The Maryland General Assembly meets soon and I hope they go on a diet to prevent new taxes. They also need to stop sneaking in "user fees" like I steal a chocolate cookie. ("A" chocolate chip cookie, Tom? Be honest - like the delegates) Palms need to be greased and love handles flexed to stop roads with tolls (Toll House cookies! Be still my heart!). Slots will not mean a dramatic weight gain in the money coffers. Better yet, the whole herd of legislators should stay home and graze.

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