Saturday, August 28, 2021

Pandemic Eating: When You Ate The Whole Thing

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 30, 2021] ©2021

A Harris poll done for the American Psychological Association that was released in March showed that 42% of Americans have gained a stunning 29 pounds on average during the pandemic.  this made me feel better since I only put on 21.

I just couldn't seem to socially distance myself from my refrigerator.

It didn't help that Gelson's doubled down on their six-packs of freshly-baked chocolate chunk cookies, maliciously placed just inside the door. 

Meanwhile, Fox News reported on August 7 that a Russian woman sued McDonalds maintaining that their mouth-watering cheeseburger ads completely demagnetized her moral compass compelling her break her Lenten fast of meat and animal products.  In the U.S., of course, that would earn McDonald’s a Clio.

Maybe I could use this as a precedent to compel Gelson’s to send me to the fat farm.  I was thinking The Golden Door.

It’s a well-known fact that Americans are fatter than they were one or two generations ago. Partly this is due to the many ways that people used to have to burn calories that they don’t have to any more.  TV remotes immediately come to mind.  My grandchildren were agog to learn that there was a time that people (that would be moi) had to get up and walk over to their TV to change the channel.  Then you had to walk back over a few more times to adjust the rabbit ears to get the reception right.  Which, actually, never quite happened.

We had to manually roll up the windows on our pre-power-steering cars. Typewriters were manual. As a tot, I wrung my fingers in our wringer washing machine.  (Early 1950s IQ test.)

It was definitely a more active era.

However, I was delighted to read in the April/May issue of AARP Magazine about a study that found that people ages 70-75 who were overweight were less likely to die over the next ten years than those of “normal” weight.  The article didn’t define “overweight” and I certainly am not going to ask.

Still, this gave me serious pause.  I have been working hard to shed those Chocolate Chunk Cookie pounds. But am I risking my health by doing so? 

Prior to my divorce, I always wore a size 4, which in today’s deflationary size market is probably a 2, or even a 0. (Personally, I think size 0 is what you should be after you’ve been dead a while.) Afterwards, I packed on 30 pounds eating the Post-Divorce Mrs. Fields Cookie and Chardonnay Depression Diet. (You may be noticing a common thread of chocolate chip cookies in my weight journey.) Alas, I’ve been heifering, er, hovering around a size 16 ever since.

My kids were three and five when my first husband and I separated and have few memories of us together.  When showing some DVDs to the kids and grandkids last year, my older son, the irrepressible Rory, said, “So who’s that woman with Dad?”  I said, “That’s me.” He said, “Nah, your ass was never that small.”  Out of the mouths of 42-year-olds?

I still think of myself as temporarily overweight, that this extra adipose is a mere blimp, er, blip in my life. But the fiction is getting harder of maintain when I remember that I was divorced in 1983.

Now, even aside from health concerns, there are compelling reasons to not be fat.  Among them is texting. It is truly to your advantage to have pencil-thin fingers. At least if you want anyone to actually understand what you wrote.

Another, of course, would be clothes shopping. I would chat it up with the personal shopper at Nordstrom who would inform me that they usually only order one size 16 in any particular style and those are so in demand that she immediately pulls them for her regular customers.  Now, I’m not in retail, but if I had a size that was instantly selling out, I’d order, well, more. But I’d be missing the point. Once you get past a certain size, department stores don’t want you waddling around in there among the osteoporotic svelte. 

Chunker departments, where they even exist, are invariably hidden in a corner of the third floor which you can spot from fifty yards: racks of nasty brown, navy, and black polyester slacks, and skirts with hideous floral prints in colors not found in nature. We chunkies just hate wearing this stuff – a point that I routinely note in the feedback box at Nordstrom Oinker. (It’s actually Nordstrom Encore, but if you say it fast it comes out sounding like Oinker, which, in fact, I am convinced is the subliminal meaning in that choice of word. What, after all, does “encore” have to do with fat people?)

Meanwhile, I’ve just got to put my hopes into Gelson’s doing the right thing by me and making that reservation at the Golden Door.  I may have to do a cookie detox first. 




Sunday, August 8, 2021

I Guess They Didn't Mean Me

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 9, 2021] ©2021

As my readers know, I’m always a sucker for those internet and magazine self-help articles on the theme of “What your car/phone/hair style/electronics/wardrobe says about you” or the ‘How To’ pieces:  How to Land the Man of Your Dreams, How to Look Ten Pounds Thinner in One Day, or even How to Look Great Naked.

You know the ones. Catchy copy gushes breathlessly: “Your Audi screams fun and flirty!  You’re a go-getting jet-setting trend setter yearning for the wanderlust lifestyle!  You were born to the live on the other side of the pond.  In your ideal life, Fridays would find you on your way to a weekend rendezvous with your Italian lover!” 

Now as a regular reader of these articles, the one thing I’ve noticed is that they never seem to reference my particular car or phone or electronics.  I’m not sure why but it irritates me beyond belief.  I can only wonder, if they wrote about me, what would they say?

What Your Car Says About You:  Your 2005 Corolla fairly screams Cheap Car!  But the fact that this one actually has automatic windows says it is a huge step up from your Jetta.  You were truly born without the car gene!  Still, this is the first car you’ve ever owned that your husband doesn’t tell people belongs to the cleaning lady.  Next time go wild and crazy and get a Prius!

What Your Cell Phone Says About You: Hey, this one is actually an iPhone!  Unlike your last phone it even has a camera! And the fact that it isn’t a pre-paid minutes phone means you even have internet!  Not that you know how to answer it! Just like the last one, as soon as it rings you panic and start yelling “hello?  Hello?”  Your sons do a really vicious imitation of you!  But you’ve finally learned to text!  You had to get the largest size iPhone so that you’d have room to paste all the instructions on the back.  Well, not all the instructions.  Even using the smallest 8-pt font there’s so much more you’d like to cram on the back of it! Like how to email a video!  That used to be so easy but IOS version 2,000.8 made it impossible!  Usually you ignore the updates for that reason! But then the phone stops working altogether!  Which is truly irritating!  Likely, your next phone will be a Jitterbug!

How to Look Ten Pounds Thinner in One Day:  Photoshop, Baby! Heck, go for fifty!

What Your Wardrobe Says About You:  You have a wardrobe?  Did you age out of contention for “What Not to Wear”?  Giving away the iron ten years ago was a great feminist statement: you’re not about to wear anything that isn’t wash and wear.  But eventually even wash and wear wears out! Yes, it really does!  Are you going for Bag Lady Chic?

How to Land the Man of Your Dreams:  Actually, he’s already flopping on the dock. (Love you, Olof!)

What Your House Plants Say About You:   Survival of the Fittest!   Is it any accident you only have one house plant left?  And it’s on probation?  Your philosophy is: How expensive is a friggin’ golden pothos anyway?  If it needs watering more than once a week, it’s not happening at your house.  You’ve spent your entire adult life taking care of kids, husbands, pets, plants.  Can’t let the first three crump (however tempting) but the second the horticulturals make a single demand, they’re compost!  Enough already! 

What your hairstyle says about you: You have insane amounts of hair!  Are you sure there’s not another person (or two) under there?  Your hair takes seven hours to air dry! Yeah, really! Most people think they want lots of hair!  No, they really don’t! Certain styles – like that perm you once stupidly tried – made you look like Medusa with extra snakes. You’d think a layered cut would help but good thing you destroyed all the photos! During the pandemic when you couldn’t get a haircut for five months, you were practically rendered legally blind.  You don’t even want to calculate what percentage of your life you’ve spent under – or holding – a hair dryer.  You’ve had the same haircut for 50 years!  Is there something wrong with that?  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 

How to Look Great Naked:  Short of losing sixty pounds and being reincarnated as a supermodel, there is no way on God’s green earth that you are going to look great naked!  Or even OK naked!  That ship has like totally sailed.  Or in your case sunk!  Sorry, Inga, this article was intended for people for whom there is actually hope!  Can’t believe you even read it!  The link you were looking for was: “How to make sure people never see you naked!”

 OK, I think I’m officially sorry I asked. 


 The last surviving house plant (it's on borrowed time)



Sunday, August 1, 2021

People Behaving Badly (The Dogs Were Fine)

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 2, 2021] ©2021

If you think there is a lot of contention about the seals and sea lions at the downtown La Jolla beaches, you don’t read Next Door.  Dog Poop Wars – with photos – are constantly waging, and with no more likelihood of a meeting of minds than about the local pinnipeds.

The combatants are roughly divided into six groups:

(1) Responsible dog owners who pick up after their pet and only dispose of the bags in their own or public trash cans.

(2) Semi-responsible (but see below) dog owners who pick up after their pet and dispose of the bags in the nearest homeowner’s trash bin.

(3) Irresponsible dog owners who pretend to be on their phones when their dog is pooping on someone’s lawn.

(4) People who may or may not own a dog but enjoy tormenting people who post “Pick up after your dog signs” on their lawns.

(5) People who let their dog poop on the sidewalk – and leave it there.

(6) People who simply hate dogs, pooping or not.

Within Category 2, there is raging debate as to what circumstances it might be OK to put your bag of dog poop in someone else’s trash can.  This subject has even been passionately argued nationally in Dear Abby. The hotly-contested options include:

(1) Never

(2) On trash day, before that trash can has been picked up

(3) When it’s not hot (and therefore the bag doesn’t have the opportunity to percolate in a black trash bin over a period of days creating an odor that could knock over a goat at 10 yards)

(4) A trash bin is a trash bin so get over it already

(4) Only in the trash bins of fellow dog owners

(5) Especially in the trash bins of non-dog owners, just to annoy them

(6) If you don’t see any security cameras

(7) In the dead of night

I know people who specifically review their security cameras not to see who broke into their garage but to see who is putting dog poop bags in their trash.

During my daily walks around my neighborhood, I often see piles of poop from what is clearly a very large dog artfully arranged around the base of a “Please pick up after your dog” sign. 

I confess that this brings up a number of questions.  First, how did they get the dog to do it?  More puzzling, when someone cleans it up, how did they get the dog to come back and do it again?  This dog definitely has his/her own signature poop print 

Given the precision of placement each time, one might conclude that this is imported dog poop that has been intentionally staged to annoy the owner of the sign.  The only alternative is that some very passive-aggressive person has specifically trained their pooch only to poop around the base of those signs.  Inquiring minds (and America’s Got Talent) want to know. 

I myself have grown suspicious. Given the staggering resemblance to previous piles, is it really even real poop? On a hunch that I now deeply regret, I searched “fake dog poop” on Amazon.  You can buy some frighteningly-realistic looking dog egesta for $5 in either regular or “chunky”, or a 6-pack of assorted styles for $11.  This will haunt my dreams.

As a dog owner myself, I obviously have opinions on these issues. Our city-mandated-and-dispensed black trash receptacle lives at the far end of our driveway nestled next to our house, its unfortunate accessibility making it a neighborhood poop dump of choice.   In the pre-city-dispensed receptacle days, our trash cans resided safely inside our back gate away from excretory-abandoning miscreants.   But the required new bins are too big for that space.  If you opened our trash can on any given day, you’d think we were running a kennel for digestively-compromised canines. 

So a few years ago, I decided to importune the offenders with a polite entreaty on the top: “Please – we’re asking nicely - no dog poop in the trash bin!” 

Of course, that just dares people, just like the yard signs, even though our sign was posted on top of the bin where you couldn’t see it until you were right there.

Despite the sign, I’d still heard the lid of my trash can being raised during the day, but more quietly, and admittedly less often than before.  I confess that I sometimes entertained delicious fantasies of rigging it in some excretorially-vengeful way.  But forget to disarm it even once and the garbage men would never pick up our trash again.

I finally decided it wasn’t worth the energy. I took off the sign. Have at it, folks. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do.

But I think there is one consensus. There ought to be a special place in hell and/or the DMV non-appointments line for people who leave trails of dog poop on sidewalks. 

Unsolved mysteries: every time this is cleaned up, it's back again a few days later

in the exact same place