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VOL. 129 | NO. 120 | Friday, June 20, 2014

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Fat Chance

By Dan Conaway

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12-STOP. “My name is Dan, and I’ve lost control.”

“Hi, Dan,” answers America, desperately addicted to too much, too often, in need of a 12-stop consumption program. As in 12 ounces of any soft drink is plenty and 12 ounces of gin starts fights with strangers. As in 12 ounces of any animal in any form is too much and 12 things on your breakfast plate doesn’t jumpstart your day, just your LDL. As in 12 of anything larger than a carrot stick at a single sitting will narrow arteries and prospects, broaden what you’re sitting on, and make getting up from the table – or for anything – a challenge. For a forklift.

So maybe we should stop. Fat chance of that.

I just got back from a 3,000-mile rolling bacchanal with family and friends, eating and drinking up and down the East Coast while gaining six pounds and this insight:

People in Pennsylvania are fat, even the Amish are straining those buggy axles. Virginia is, too – yes, Virginia, you do look like Santa Claus. They’re also big in Baltimore, enormous in North Carolina, and all the crackers in all the Cracker Barrels all along the way look a lot more like the barrels.

As I dug in myself and observed others at the various troughs we shared, I was reminded of the movie “Back To School” – yes, I saw that movie – which opens with Rodney Dangerfield doing a TV spot for his character’s national chain of men’s stores, “Tall and Fat.” I’ll paraphrase Rodney’s pitch: “When you go to the zoo, do the elephants throw you peanuts? Do you look at a menu and say ‘OK?’”

You and I are fat, America, and we’re in denial. Even more alarming than the number of us who think we can still wear spandex and do, is the number of us who think cheese should go on fries and bacon should go on anything.

We are supersized acolytes of the most basic principle of American consumption – if a little of something is good then a whole buttload of it must be terrific. Judging from the size of those loads straining seams, chair legs and health care providers across Memphis, we must be among the most American of cities.

So if we can’t stop, maybe we can cut back. A better chance for all of us.

We can’t legislate healthy habits any more than we can legislate morality, but each of us can eat and drink a little less, a little slower or – in Memphis terms – love a little shoulder without going whole hog.

We can’t make people watch their diet and exercise, but each of us can watch how much we eat and then we might feel like taking a walk.

Just because you have the right to look like the Hindenburg blimp and feel like the wreck, doesn’t mean you have to. After all, this is America.

I’m a Memphian, and I’ll have that steak medium rare. But I’ll split it with you.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

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