As an incoming high-school freshman, I weighed 170 pounds. A decade and a half later, I weighed somewhere slightly north of 315. That’s a gain of 145. That’s almost another me, and what a lousy idea that is on every level.
So as an excuse to borrow one of my very favorite phrases from one of my very favorite performers, I would like to explain how it came to pass that I got fat:
Pounds 1-3: Freshman year lunch: Pizza, chocolate milk, and a greasy cookie in the cafeteria. Every day.
Pounds 4 & 5: Constant access to vending machines featuring chocolate milk.
Pounds 6-10: Discovery of ability to occasionally order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pounds 11-13: Standard summertime fast food lunch: Nachos, cheese fries, XL Pepsi.
Pound 14: Taco Salad Fridays in the North Cafeteria at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
Pounds 15-18: Sophomore year, for making-out reasons, I spend several months with two lunch periods.
Pounds 19 & 20: I discover that coming home after everyone has gone to sleep means that I can have a snack unpestered.
Pounds 21 & 22: Tasty Dog begins carrying deep-fried cheese.
Pounds 23-50: Driver’s license obtained. Walking and bicycling are immediately cut by 80%. Regular errand runs for maternal parent are broken up by lavish snacking.
Pounds 51-56: Especially the $1.99 two-slices-and-a-pop deal at Little Caesar’s.
Pounds 57-59: Months of testing and negotiation result in finalization of a 12-year standing order at Mickey’s Gyros — “Gimme a one skirt steak sandwich, cup of cheese on the side, gimme an order a mozzarella sticks, and an extra-large Dr. Pepper, for here.”
Pounds 60-62: Granny’s restaurant begins carrying eclairs.
Pounds 63-65: Theatrical obligations force me to eat dinner after 9 p.m. on a fairly regular basis. As of this writing, I have not shaken this habit. It is probably radically underestimated as a fat factor.
Pounds 65-68: 24-hour dining establishments discovered. A fourth meal is added to Friday and Saturday.
Pounds 69 & 70: Employment at a summer camp two hours north of home leads to the discovery that a large pizza is a perfect way to pass the drive time.
Pounds 71-73: Move to Northern Illinois University results in incidental discovery of Burritoville, the beginning of a long love affair with Mexican food.
Pounds 74-79: NIU dorm cafeterias are all-you-can-eat. I am, in retrospect, amazed this didn’t go worse for me.
Pounds 79-81: You know what a “beer nugget” is? I do.
Pounds 82-90: Burritoville begins delivering. Until 3 a.m.
Pounds 91-100: Pagliai’s Pizza has a standing special: “All You Can Eat Pizza & Pop, $3.95.” Pagliai’s no longer exists. Basically my fault.
Pound 101: Effort launched to eradicate Leona’s giant cheese sticks from the face of the Earth, personally, by mouth.
Pounds 102 & 103: Now entirely responsible for feeding self. Budget measures include frozen pizza, Tater Tots, and lots and lots of Pillsbury canned biscuits.
Pounds 104-106: Discovery of ability to regularly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pound 107: Rich source of Ben & Jerry’s Mint Cookie Orgy (or whatever) identified 40 yards from residential entrance. One Pint = One Serving.
Pounds 108-111: Leona’s delivers to Lincoln Park.
Pounds 112-114: As does Philly’s Best Subs.
Pounds 115 & 116: Finances improve, allowing for the purchase of real groceries.
Pounds 117-121: And a barbecue smoker for the yard.
Pound 122: Moved. New neighborhood hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint specialty: Fried pork chop sandwich.
Pounds 123-125: Personal pasta sauce recipe and garlic bread construction perfected in same weekend. I keep this recipe sharp by making it twice a week for years.
Pounds 126-128: Discovery of ability to constantly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pounds 129 & 130: Realization strikes that I can eat the Special Sunday Breakfast of my childhood, Pillsbury’s “Orange Danish Rolls,” any damn time I want. I do.
Pounds 131-134: With the addition of fresh garlic, the last piece falls in place for stuffed pizza’s takeover from thin crust in the Pizza Pantheon.
Pounds 135-137: I discover that I can order rare and luxurious ingredients via the internet. Good god!
Pounds 138-140: In a romantic gesture gone horribly awry, I finally perfect the Mashed Potato Club’s formula for the eponymous potatoes. Lethal to waistbands that start with “3”.
Pounds 140-141: Commercial availability of “Heath Bar Crunch” triples in response to calls from the Big & Tall Industry
Pounds 142-145: During a trip to Paris Las Vegas, I am introduced to real pain au chocolat.
Lots of books tell you not being fat is about breaking bad habits. What they don’t tell is that it’s not about breaking one bad habit. You have to break dozens.