Before bottoming out as a shill for the psychic network, singer Dionne Warwick posed a very poignant question to Alfie and the world: "What's it all about?" Like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky, the answer came to me the other day.
It's not all about the Hokey Pokey. It's not all about Michael Caine's life. It's not all about songs by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. It's all about portion control.
My mother, a graduate of Weight Watchers several times over, has harangued me about portion control since I began to balloon soon after getting married (those things happen when you go from a bachelor's diet to the repast offered the master of the house). But what self-respecting adult male involved in a love affair with pizza, soda, and ice cream will listen to such advice? No, it takes a much harder driving force to bring the truth home, a force like being diagnosed with high blood pressure.
"If you don't get rid of that weight soon, your blood pressure's gonna erupt like Mount Vesuvius," Dr. Goodnews told me. "Once that happens, you'll have, oh, maybe five or ten seconds to say your goodbyes ... assuming that your brain still functions enough to allow you to actually form coherent words." So there it was, a force mightier than a mother who always knows best. Diet or simply die.
Now here I am, measuring out my one-half cup of Vermont maple granola for breakfast; limiting myself to two pieces of pizza as opposed to the customary three, four, five or however many it took to really, really make me feel full. No seconds on anything.
And I have become a believer. Portion control has become my life. Witness some of the conversations at my house these days:
"Hey Dad," my son says, returning to the living room after a pit stop. "How'd the Redskins get back possession of the ball so quickly?"
"Portion control," I respond.
"Daddy," my 14-year-old daughter says. "What would be a good topic for me to write on for my creative writing class?"
"Portion control," is my answer.
"Honey," calls my wonderful wife. "What would you like for supper tonight?"
My wife and kids tell me that I've become worse than a crusading ex-smoker. Some of the terms used to describe my recent behavior are annoying, weird, childish and arrogant.
But I don't care. I finally know what it's all about ... and the kinder, gentler, and soon-to-be-slimmer me is ready and willing to share this great news with anyone willing to listen.