Friday morning after Thanksgiving Abernathy called from San Diego where he was unable to extricate himself from bed.
“God,” I said, “you’ve haven’t fallen off the wagon again.”
“I’m afraid I have.”
“You must accept you’re an alcoholic and powerless under the influence of tequila.”
“I’m not talking about alcohol; I’m talking food.”
“Stay off meat. It makes you eat like a starving lion.”
“I didn’t eat turkey yesterday.”
“What caused the hangover?”
“It started Tuesday at work. About ten o’clock a lady gave me two baked potatoes filled with ground beef, corn, onions, and lots of delectable but unidentifiable spices.”
“How could you finish both?” I asked.
“I hadn’t planned to but part of the potatoes must have been hollowed out since they felt quite light and went down fast. Then after my regular lunch…”
“That’s it right there. You should’ve compensated by skipping lunch.”
“I couldn’t. Every day when the clock hits noon, I start salivating.”
“Like Pavlov’s dogs.”
“Yeah, but I still would’ve been all right if another lady hadn’t brought me a couple of pupusas that afternoon.”
“They’re kinda like two thick, soft, greasy tortillas, often made of pig skin, that have dynamite inside. In this case they were stuffed with hot frijoles.”
“You could’ve said no thanks.”
“No, I couldn’t have.”
“I suppose you had your regular dinner that evening.”
“Right, but I recovered. A more serious problem started about one Wednesday afternoon. I got off work early and went to the deli. I promised my sister and her husband I’d bring some incredible chicken and fruit salad for Thanksgiving Day. She was delighted because she didn’t want to roast one of those messy turkeys.”
“Don’t tell me…”
“Listen, I only bought a pound of baked breasts, sliced thin in the deli, and a couple pounds of fruit salad. Soon as I got out of the store I knew I was in trouble. But I tried. I grabbed my cell phone and called and told them I’d come right over and we’d have lunch. But they’d already eaten and were going to see friends.”
“Why didn’t you simply put the food in the refrigerator until Thursday?”
“I was hungry so I just had a slice or two of chicken and a few spoonfuls of fruit salad. Then I went to my computer and planned to spend the rest of the day working. And I did, except for occasionally stepping to the refrigerator.”
“You ate three pounds of deli food for lunch,” I scolded.
“Only all the chicken and half the fruit salad. At that point I had a poultry and sugar attack – they put so much whipped cream in those salads. I had to take a nap.”
“What did your wife say?”
“She woke me when she got home from work, and I told her leave me alone. She’s always been jealous of my naps.”
“I hope you went back to the deli so you’d have meat to take to your sister’s,” I said.
“No way. As I was finishing the rest of the fruit salad, I vowed to become a vegetarian.”
“You’ll never stick to that.”
“That’s what you and everyone else said about alcohol.”
“Thankfully, we’ve been wrong about that, so far. Without meat and alcohol, you should’ve been okay.”
“Well, they offered me nuts. Anything salty is impossible to stop eating, and I had several handfuls. The dinner itself was quite healthy – rice, green beans, cranberry sauce, salad, and bread. You can eat a lot of that stuff without serious consequences, and I wasn’t sick after dinner. But they had to bring out dessert: cherry pie, apple strudel, ice cream, chocolate candy. I don’t keep that junk in my house.”
“You’ve could’ve said no thanks.”
“Quit saying that. Only squares decline a feast.”
“How many helpings did you have?”
“Three or four of each.”
“Glutton,” I said.
“Anorexic,” he countered.
He should’ve also called me deceitful. Unbeknownst to everyone but my wife, who has forgone regular complaints due to my running several miles six days a week to maintain the vigor she requires, I’m at least as much a pig as the sedentary Abernathy. At two a.m. I often swoop into the refrigerator and grab a slice of raw bacon, roll it up, and down it in a bite. Salami, large shrimp, cheese, and crackers are similarly disposed of while two chomps eliminate a cold hot dog. And, out in a hidden drawer in the garage, I horde cupcakes, half-moon pies, and cookies to eat when I’m alone. Sometimes the crumbs attract my wife’s notice; sometimes they attract ants. I spray the latter and tell the former I’ll run ten miles tomorrow.