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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

StairMaster To Heaven

Submitted by on March 11, 1996 – 8:33 PMNo Comment

Every morning when I wake up, I turn on The Today Show.I do this partly to drown out the meowing of a hungry feline; partly to find out what the weather is doing, since finding out what the weather is doing at my apartment entails not merely looking out the window but climbing out onto the fire escape and dangling by my little toe to catch a glimpse of the sky; and partly because Maria Shriver (filling in for Katie Couric) fascinates me.Dead men live in her face.She has children with Mr. Universe, The Kindergarten Cop, a man who got pregnant.Maria has become one of those strange American icons like Marilyn's fluttering white dress, Pantene hair and Camelot buck teeth so fraught with meaning that they don't mean anything anymore.

A couple of mornings ago, Today Show Health Fascist Dr. Ulene took it upon himself to warn viewers about the dangers that snacking can pose to a weight-loss and fitness regime.Maria guiltily giggled that she snacks all the time.Uh-oh, I thought from head-down in my sock drawer, here comes Safire with the "congenital snacker" accusation.Spare us, Maria; you're a Kennedy.Kennedys cannot POSSIBLY either eat or eliminate waste.Then Dr. Ulene came up with a fascinating statistic.Evidently, french fries represent 23 percent of the vegetables eaten by kids and teenagers.Maria, Bryant Gumbel, and Dr. Ulene clucked in horror.Dr. Ulene went on to recommend fruit and exercise as ways to beat the urge to snack.

Well, Dr. Ulene, I have news for you.Kids and teenagers and anyone else with a living taste bud eat french fries because THEY TASTE GOOD.You cannot compare french fries to bananas, and if I crave french fries, 4 grapes and a dry cracker ain't gonna cut it, fat boy.They have a ton of cholesterol, a ton of fat, and a ton of sodium, but I don't really care.What am I saving myself for?Tonight's jog to Astoria and back?Upper East Side chiquitas can stir themselves to put their shags in a ponytail, belly up to a delicious breakfast of half a shredded wheat biscuit and a single blueberry, and StairMaster themselves into a coma, but I can't, and I won't.Nobody has proven to my satisfaction that the masochistic tendencies will prolong my life.

And what if they DO prolong my life?What if I only live to age 80, instead of 85?Why does the life I live right now have to serve as an ascetic deprivation-state preamble to old age?Who cares how pink my lungs are at 75, how low my blood pressure, when I can tie my boobs in a knot on the top of my head?It's over!I'M OLD!Sixty years from now,when my rocker and I crumble into a pile of dust on the verandah of Ancient Acres Home For The Nearly Fossilized, I don't see myself dickering with God over missed portions of leafy greens: "Oh please, not yet, it's too soon, give me a chance to redeem the tater tots, the gyros, the low-fat-but-not-fat-free mayonnaise, nooooooo!"

Besides, let's face it — the veneration of old people isn't exactly a time-honored tradition around here.America treats old people the way it treated Jimmy Carter's family, like annoying embarrassments that will go away if ignored long enough.Old people don't have their own teeth, and they drive 23 miles an hour in big old Cadillacs, and use words like "youngster" and "little missy" and think that wearing a pair of jeans means you dress like "one of those rock 'n' roll stars."Old people snack on Metamucil and can't believe a Coke costs 75 cents…right?

So I don't exercise and I don't eat right, because if craving fries and rice pudding and drinking and smoking and sitting on my dupa in front of the TV takes a few years off my life, I'll get over it.If my children start discussing me in the third person while I'm in the room, and I can't recall my first kiss or my first name or which blood thinner pill to take first, and someone I don't know very well has to dress and undress me and change my diapers and tell me what day it is, and nobody gives a good goddamn about an irrelevant old lady who remembers when the internet first started, I would rather drop dead of a cheeseburger than put up with that shit.

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