A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it.
If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at a new job. Not only did she tell me her ex-husband came out as transsexual and divorced her, she then proudly stated she was gluten-free and proceeded to reaffirm this stance to me daily during my entire employment there.
I promised myself when I radically shifted my diet in June I wouldn’t become one of those idiots. Well, I’m about to become one of those idiots. Sigh.
I stepped on the scale this morning and weighed in at 182.8. When I did the same thing back in June after wondering why I was able to fit into only two pairs of my work pants, it read 213.7. Everything felt horrible back then. I was in the midst of Longhaul Covid hell, I’d just come off a round of high-dose steroids attempting to fix a Covid-caused mouth issue that still hasn’t improved, and none of my clothes felt right. I was puffy, inflamed and jiggly.
On June 2, I went to a functional medicine doctor. She ordered a new round of different blood tests — 11 tubes in all — and a few weeks later, I saw her again to go over the results. Inflammation was my enemy. Gluten, dairy and a whole host of other things were contributing to it. So I would need to radically change my diet.
As she went over what I could and couldn’t — or at least should and shouldn’t — eat, I was panicky. No pizza? No pie? No… bacon?! When she paused, I quickly jumped in: “So, like, um, how closely should I adhere to this?” which was short for, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding, right?”
“Well,” she said, staring at me seriously. “That depends. How bad do you feel?”
I went home and talked to Wifey Poo. I told her this was what I was going to do, that I was sick of being sick, and nothing else had worked so why not try it? She immediately agreed to join me in my food overhaul.
So I did it. I cut out the things that were said to cause inflammation. I started thinking of food in an entirely different way — as fuel for the machine that is me instead of as a thing that goes with social interactions or creates pleasure or comfort.
And I became one of those annoying gluten-free people. Silently, until now, which proves it is, indeed, possible.
I didn’t do this to lose weight. I did this because I felt like shit and didn’t want to feel like shit and had tried everything else to not feel like shit and still felt like shit. I had nothing to lose and nothing else left to try.
Four months later, I feel in so many ways better than I have not just since before Covid kicked me in the balls, but in the past 20 years. I have energy that carries me throughout the day. My brain fog is largely gone. I’m mentally healthier than I have been in a long time.
And oh yeah I lost 30 pounds.
I’m happy that my pants fit — that they’re even too loose now. I’m glad I can wear my T-shirts without showing my manboobs, err, huge pectoral muscles.
But the weight loss? That’s just a by-product of changing how I look at food, how I look at myself. Instead of a dumpy old Datsun, I’m a finely engineered Ferrari that needs the best fuel.
So I don’t eat the stuff I used to love. I got through the readjustment (read: withdrawal) caused by ditching unnatural sugars. Yes, I still allow myself one cheat day a month, in which I still keep things under control but chow down on a piece of pizza or some wings or a bowl of ice cream.
But even then, I keep it in moderation. Not because I’m concerned about my weight. I just don’t want to wake up in the morning and feel like I used to feel. So that’s my motivation. That’s why I’ve lost 30 pounds. That’s why I’m confident I’ll never step on a scale and see a “2” as the first number ever again.
It’s not about the weight. It’s about living a better life.
One of my earliest memories is being in the back seat of the car Mom was driving, waiting in line to get gas. Our car’s license plate — the old orange New York version — started with an even number, which meant that Tuesday was a government-approved day to fill up. The line was huge — yes, for an impatient 4-year-old, but also for an impatient Mom and a whole host of other impatient people who didn’t like the current president.
We’re in another energy crisis right now, though not as bad as the late 1970s. Prices are jumping, oil’s above $80 a barrel, and countries not exactly friendly to our ideals still are calling the shots.
But there are still moments of levity in it for me.
There are two gas stations at the exit I take to get home after work. Mr. Fuel is on the left side of the road. I remember when Mr. Fuel was built. I would see it when I would come to Future Wifey Poo’s house while we were dating. Gas was $0.98. Booyah.
On the right side is Travel America. I’m not sure when that was built, but it’s a bit down the service road, and it’s the favorite of truckers traveling down Interstate 70. I don’t go there often because getting in and out behind slow 18-wheelers is annoying at the end of a long day.
Every once in a while, Travel America sticks a big middle finger up in the direction of Mr. Fuel and drops its gas prices a few cents lower than its rival. And then Mr. Fuel, not being one to take that shit lying down, drops his prices a few cents below Mr. T&A. It happened again yesterday.
I love this. And not for the economic benefit I get by being able to fill my tank for less money. After all, it’s a freaking Nissan Versa. It has a 12-gallon tank and gets 6 billion miles a gallon. Fuel isn’t a huge expense in my life. No. I get the joy from knowing — or at least imagining — there’s someone at each station looking across at his rival and getting all Yosemite Sam when the other guy lowers his prices.
The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day
So here’s the thing: There aren’t too many people out there who mean to hurt someone. You’ve got your loony-toons, bullies, murderers and that one girl who took the heartfelt letter I wrote her in ninth grade and read it to her entire school bus. But in general, the vast majority of people hurt others without intending anything ill.
That doesn’t absolve them from the responsibility for the hurt they caused, and “I didn’t mean to” isn’t a good excuse.
If you want to say that cancel culture, in some circumstances, goes too far, I’ll allow you to take a step down that plank. If you’d like to follow up with, “But he wrote it 10 years ago,” hey, have at it… that board gets kinda shaky when you’re at the end.
Nevertheless, the way Gruden handled the situation once his first comment dropped about the size of a Black man’s lips — by saying it had nothing to do with race but rather was a little quip he frequently used to refer to people he thought were lying — was something I, as a crisis communicator, knew wasn’t going to end well. It was a good try to play the “The Lips Are Close Enough to Pinocchio’s Nose That Maybe People Won’t Notice The Difference” defense. Bonus points for the bold attempt.
But Gruden knew — or should have known — that more damning information was coming. So what Gruden’s initial explanation amounted to was, well, let’s all take a look at the size of his lips.
Whiskey From the Boss
I might have unwittingly given myself a gift yesterday. As part of my job, I’m assisting our Director of Growth with our recruiting strategy. She asked for some input, so I developed a six-step plan. Step one is to reduce turnover on our team in an industry notorious for lots of it. And strategy No. 1 in doing that is to think about the people who, if they left, would hurt to lose and then go make sure they feel like rock stars.
“How can we do that?” she asked.
“Well, how do Division I schools treat top high school football recruits? Go do that.” Without the strippers, of course.
So I surveyed the team: “What’s a gift you could receive that would really show you that someone sees you.” The answers were varied, which is the point: One-size-fits-all thank-yous don’t work in business.
And so it came to pass that Big Boss and the Director of Growth, who happen to be married, gave me a card and a bottle of whiskey to say thanks for everything I’ve done for the team so far. I’ve only been there two months. I wasn’t thinking about me in the least when I suggested she go to great lengths to keep good people. It’s humbling and flattering to be thought of in that way.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Boy The Younger’s fall baseball season came to an end tonight. He played the team that scored 17 runs in the first inning the last time they met. This game didn’t look much better, though they held them to 13 runs in the first inning. Winning! And then, down 14-0 in the top of the last frame, something clicked. A team that had scored no more than 1 run in a game all season suddenly put up a 10-spot. The Super Team went through five pitchers. Their fans grew restless. One dad even walked away. Now, it wasn’t a win, but in Little League, moral victories count for something.
- I’m going out to lunch with a colleague tomorrow. We’re talking about how he can build his social media presence as a new Realtor.
- Wifey Poo and I have a date Friday night.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude, […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean, […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear […]