Monday, September 14, 2015

Dear Diary: Nutri-System

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dear Diary:

The day began like any other, which is to say, with me awakening on the front lawn to the pfft-pfft-pfft of the sprinkler shooting water in my face after another night of regrettable behavior.  At least, there would be regret if I could at all remember it.

“Man, this lawn is so lush and soft!  No wonder dogs mark their territory.  I wouldn’t want to share this. This is delightful!  Money well spent, Mr. McCloud.  Money. Well. Spent.”  That’s when it hit me: I didn’t have a lush lawn, or a sprinkler system, which explained the lack of a lush lawn; and I certainly don’t spend money well, which explained the lack of a sprinkler system.  It was all one giant circle of cause and effect.

“How do I keep waking up on other people’s lawns?” I wondered aloud in silent contemplation.  “Doesn’t reflect well on the local Neighborhood Watch Program; that’s for sure.”

A cloud of anxiety had been hanging over my head for more than a month and a half. [Editor’s Note: Forty-two years more.] My lab results, which had come back two days before I embarked on my quest to heal a broken nation, suggested that I was pre-Diabetic.  Based on this “suggestion”, the company nutritionist said that I needed to modify my dietary habits and instructed me to keep a food journal.  Today was the day we would review that journal aka “Judgment Day”.

Keeping a food journal that will be reviewed by a certified dietician is a lot like hiring a housekeeper.  You don’t want the housekeeper to think you don’t keep a clean house (even though that’s why you hired that person); so, you make sure to clean your house from top to bottom before he / she arrives.  You don’t want to make the house too spotless, however, because you don’t want them looking around for the truth and stumbling across “the drawer”.  The same holds true with the food journal.  Your body is a temple, and you don’t want people thinking your temple is unclean…Even though it is.  You start eating fruits, vegetables, and salads.  You learn what kale is.  You don’t eat it, mind you, but you order it, because if it’s on your plate with your curly fries, then your curly fries are healthy.  The good qualities of the kale have rubbed off on the curly fries without ruining their tastiness.  That’s just science.  Osmosis to be exact. [Ed’s Note: Yes, on “the drawer”. No, on the curly fries.]  You don’t want to eat too healthily, however, because 1) you’re there for a reason, and 2) you don’t want her to go looking for your dietary “drawer”.  Your “drawer” could be that you mainline coffee; that you eat a slice of cheesecake before bed (and you count an entire cheesecake as “a slice” as long as you don’t cut it); or that you can’t seem to eat a meal without boobs in your face (i.e. you spend a lot of time at Hooters or eateries that fall within that culinary genre). Little known fact: the original slogan for Hooters was, “Have a meal with boobs in your face.”  They later shortened it to, “Hooters makes you happy.” It’s more family-friendly.)  [Ed’s Note: Nope.]

As I waited in the…waiting room, I reviewed my journal and practiced my responses to the questions I anticipated her asking.  “Do you expect me to believe you didn’t eat sweets in New Orleans?” (Answer: Yes, because it’s true.)  “Do you even know what cauliflower is?” (Answer: Broccoli’s albino cousin.)  “Can you eat a meal without boobs in your face?” (Answer: Yes, but why?)

“Damion,” the voice called from the doorway.

“Yes,” I responded.

“Are you ready for this?”  The room immediately darkened, a disco ball descended from the ceiling, and the waiting area filled with smoke and laser lights.  (None of that actually happened, but that’s what I envision whenever someone utters that phrase.)


“Jock Jams?”

“Excuse me?”

“Just wondering why the pause.”


 We went back to her office to start the interrogation.

“I like to get to know the people I’m working with from a holistic perspective.  Not just what they eat, but how they eat and why.  So, I’m going to take some measurements and ask you a lot of questions.  Sound good?”

“Am I going to need an attorney?”

“Not for this, but based on your HR file, it wouldn’t hurt to have one on-call.”

“Just one?”

“I was being polite.”


She had a scale in her office and asked me to take off my shoes and empty my pockets so she could get an accurate height and weight measurement.

“Hop up on the scale, turn around, and face the picture of the watermelon.”

There were other things in that area: a chair, a potted plant, books. Why’d she have to focus on watermelon?  Seemed racist.

“Okay. Now, we’re going to measure your body fat percentage.  Stand up with your feet shoulder length apart, and your arms out in front you.  When you grip this device, it will shoot an electrical current through your body and tell me what percentage body fat you have.”

“Do I need a ball gag and a safe word?”


“Ouch!  What happened to being polite?”

“What happened to not being a smart ass?”

“Don’t think I ever agreed to that.”


“Dammit!...Are you single?”


“Are we doing the ‘One slap for yes; two slaps for no’ thing?”

“Be seated.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Okay.  I got your height, weight, BMI, and % body fat.  How old are you?”

“According to my birth certificate or the internet quiz I recently took?”

(Furrowed brow. Head cocked to the side. Look of exasperation on her face) “Marital status.”




“I have exercised-induced anaphylaxis.”

“You mean exercised-induced asthma?”



“Shortness of breath, strange taste in my mouth, cramping at times, turn red, which is crazy, because
I’m red-green colorblind—“

“You’re colorblind?”


“Which one?  Red or green?”


“I’ve never met anyone who’s both…What color is this?” (Points to plastic fruit)

(I look away to a non-existent camera with an expression that says “Really?”)  “I assume it’s red, because that fruit is either raspberry or blackberry, and it doesn’t look black.”

“That was too easy.  I’m going to point to these bowls, and I want you to tell me what color each one is.”

After completing “What Color Is This Bowl?” she was finally satisfied.  “Yep, you’re definitely red-green color blind.”

“Well, it’s not like it helps me pick up women…”

“Do you drink?”



“Well, let’s see where this goes first.”

She raises her hand, but does not strike me; seemingly satisfied with my anticipatory flinch.  She continues the interrogatory.

“Do you take any recreational drugs?”


“Are you promiscuous?”

“If you’re asking if I’m a man-whore, the answer is ‘No’.”

“Is that by choice or by the choice of others?”

“You’re funny,” I say placing my elbows on her desk with my head nestled upright in my cupped hands. “I like you…We may have that smoke yet.”

“Elbows off the desk,” she said with a shooing motion and slight smile.

“Yes, ma’am…You know, I was joking with a friend the other day that I have one vice, sweet tea and soft drinks, and she’s going to take that away from me.”

“I’m sorry.  You have one what now?”

“One vice.  I don’t drink, smoke, do recreational drugs, sleep around…”

“You remember, I HAVE seen your file.”



“That doesn’t count.  I’m a McCloud. We say, ‘muthafucka’ and / or ‘nigga’ in every sentence as a matter of course…a matter of course.”

“I’ve never heard you say ‘nigga’.”

“It’s understood.”

“So, the ‘nigga’ is silent?”

“Yes, the ‘nigga’…is silent.” [Ed’s Note: She didn’t actually say ‘nigga’. So, let’s not get the woman fired.  And, no, it’s not okay for you to use that word around me if’n you ain’t black.]

“Alright. Two vices.  Happy?”

“You really want to do this?” she asked as my file landed on her desk with a thud.  She then proceeded to list out my vices.

“I was working my way through college,“ I said five minutes into her reading.

“What about this?” she asked pointing to a line item.

“Is that my permanent record?” I asked.

“Not the version that Saint Peter has, but it’s fairly complete.”

“Hm.  Well, they were working their way through college, and I helped them as someone had helped me when I was in a similar situation.  That’s not a vice…that’s paying it forward.”

“Did you say ‘paying it forward’ or ‘paying for it’?”

“First off, well played.  Secondly, the former.”

After 30-odd minutes of judgment and point-making, she concluded her series of “Why Are You Such a Mess?” questions and entered the “Here’s How to Fix You” phase.

“If I give you dietary goals, do you think you can follow them?”

“Yes.  Like I said, I’ve already cut out sweet tea and soft drinks, except for that Coke Zero I got today, but I really needed it.  I lost seven pounds while on my trip as a result.  So…”

“You know Coke Zero doesn’t have carbs.  So, you can have that…Mr. McCloud?”


“Are you crying?”

“Little bit.”

“Are you getting aroused?”

“Little bit…The tears were supposed to distract you from that fact…I just really enjoy the Coca-Cola.”

“Coke Zero. Not Coca-Cola.”

“Don’t you ruin this for me.”

“Whatever.  You need to start eating breakfast.  Everyday.  Smoothies during the week, and your regular sausage, eggs, etc., on the weekends.”

“I can do that. Guess I’ll need to buy a blender.”

“You can buy a Magic Bullet or whatever at Wal-Mart.”

“Magic Bullet???  I mean, sure, there have been times, when I haven’t slept and am feeling kinda punchy, where I’ve wondered what the appeal was.  But I’d never—“

(Slap!) “The Magic Bullet is a blender, nimrod!”

“Oh…this falls under doctor-patient confidentiality, correct?”

“No one’s that interested in you.”

“You really know how to hurt a guy.”

“You’re also going to need to buy a food scale and this calorie-counting book.  This is a pocket-sized one, but they make a larger version.  Not sure why I didn’t buy the larger version, I came out of the womb carrying glasses.”

“You and me both.”

“Your eyesight’s been bad for that long?”

“No, the previous doctor left them in there…He wasn’t very good.”

(Sigh and eye roll.) “Get out.”