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12/09/2004: "The Proverbial Deck of Cards: An American's Average Serving"

Music: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet
Mood: contemplative

Last week, I had the flu. I puked out both ends around 10 times and finally fell asleep. Needless to say, it completely emptied my digestive system. I weighed myself the next morning and when emptied, I cracked 200 pounds for the first time in years. My entire eating and drinking routine was suspended for almost 72 hours. I ate a mere fraction of the food I usually consume, and I sure didn't want to eat any anyway.

When I was feeling better and knew I should eat something so I could have the energy to leave the apartment, EJ brought me two regular hamburgers from a Carl's Jr somewhere in Hollywood. The worker told him they didn't have hamburgers at first, but found them on the kiddie menu. It was a miniscule thing next to EJ's double bacon cheeseburger, but it was this plain hamburger that Carl Karcher had built into Carl's Jr., one of thousands of post- WW II "hamburger stands" opened by G.I.s in Southern California. This small hamburger that fit into the palm of my hand, a hamburger that I could grasp comfortably contained only a plain bun, a hamburger patty, three pickles, some onion bits, and one squirt apiece of mustard and ketchup. It was wrapped in a wax paper with the Carl's Jr. star mascot in the center and on each corner was printed a name of a burger. The side that faced me as I unwrapped it said "Hamburger" in white letters on a blue background. It is the least expensive hamburger on the menu.

The hamburger that made Carl's Jr. is mastered by the trainee on the first day, as it the simplest assembly and wrapping to learn, and the foundation of burger building. EJ and I wondered if it actually lost the company money to even make them, as so few customers on a given day would buy one. Yet, at the same time, as I slowly ate my meal, I realized that the hamburger patty was small enough of a serving of meat to qualify as the elusive "deck of cards" size. The hamburger represents an adult serving of food to a person of the late 1940s, but to us it represents a serving only fit for a child, and I, sick as a dog, ate two.

Now that I am feeling better, I am limiting myself to an actual serving of what I am eating or drinking. I feel a lot clearer somehow, which is no doubt attributable that I am not constantly processing oversized servings of food. When I was growing, I definitely needed to eat two servings of something, but I am a grown man now. Is there any physical need present for me to eat that much food or am I just wasting it? On top of that, for most of the last 10 years, I would throw all that food into myself plus tons of alcohol, much of it beer.

I am overweight, and have thought so since I was a kid, but I am far from obsese. I believe that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is trying to eat properly sized servings of food. I have thought this before, but I have never had an excuse to take a careful look at how I eat, to pay attention to what I was putting into my body. You are what you eat, so does that mean I was a Bloomin' Onion?

With any luck, one day I could be the hamburger that made an empire.

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