Nick Weber

Nick Weber
Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
September 18
Once: Jesuit Priest, Circus Producer, Clown, Actor, High School Performing Arts Teacher. Currently: Sometime connector of certain Dots...........(er, Gifts)


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MARCH 4, 2012 9:46PM

A Friend By Any Other Name

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“The sonofabitch counts my cookies!”

Relax dear reader. (You, too, Sister Theodora, wherever you may be, dear lady.) It was just my friend chirping because in fact I had noted the number of raisin-oatmeal goodies he’d chased with his morning coffee.

And we are friends. Because we are neighbors we see each other a lot, and it is he whose “You’ve got a book in you” came at just the right time to launch my memoir writing several years ago. We don’t have a lot in common. A former athlete, he follows sports just about avidly and the sport of kings religiously. His past is in banking. He has no interest in Shakespeare, yet he could write his own book about the airport genre of mysteries. Though we voted for the same presidential candidate last time round, for him it was in desperation while for me it was out of utter conviction.

Our communality is a vital pleasure in lively conversation with a variety of personalities and he has rendered my limited spirit of inquiry blessedly catholic. (Yes, he knows about the other C’s in my background--Catholic Church and Circus--hence the prod to write a memoir.) By the time we learned the difference between monologue and exchange, when toleration nudged tantrum out of our shared air so that information might do its forming, friendship showed itself. Then it was that he decided to do something about his weight and its corollary, his precarious health.  Therein is the “cookie connection.”

He knew I had been educating myself on food, diet, nutrition and health.  Besides my harping on such matters, he knew a dear friend of his was a nutritionist. She offered to develop a meal plan for him and he asked me to go shopping with him. Clearly he was mapping a way of life outside his beaten paths through the prepared food aisles. The produce department was an exotic jungle disorienting him so that when all those fresh meat counters displayed their wares, he felt just about savaged by What, How, How much? And such stuff as yogurt—especially plain and Greek—and low calorie wraps were remote islands.

The big battle? Finding a way through the heresy of Aspartame and its deceptive cousins to organic low-glycemic sweeteners. Who ever heard of stevia?  And omega 3’s? Well walnuts are pretty good! Now where to find the bargains on such oddities.

I had cheated. A friend had long before turned me on to Michael Pollan’s classic about the story of US food and agribusiness The Omnivore’s Dilemma . With that, dollar differences incurred by “organics” made great sense as did even a late-life avoidance of the lethal gifts of our friends at Monsanto and Dow. But my dieting friend could only handle so much change at a time. And if friends can be honest about politics, they can admit weaknesses about eating habits. Early confessions are to “laziness” and bouts with “I don’t feel like it.” These came up against “Eat both protein and carbs whether you feel like it or not” and “You have to let the clock into your dining routine.”  Thus it was we found ourselves agreeing to distinguish between just weight loss, and carcinogenic concerns.  We allow ourselves exchanges like: “Why bother with the granola label? I’m seventy-five anyway!” countered by my “Then die!”—Remember, we’re friends.

The above is all true. It isn’t all of the truth because the sonofabitch reads these blog postings!

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This reminds me of Chad and myself. Thanks to friends at work and an app on his phone, he is finally tracking his (bad) eating habits and improving the quality of food he is making for himself and the kids (when it's his turn). He is big on the fiber (beans and whole wheat bread now), eating salad (!!), and being more careful about the junk. In the meanwhile, I am getting more "radical" with my eating habits (watched Food Inc. too many times, I guess). :-) Here's to eating spinach and chicken. I remember your baked potato, egg, and broccoli regime, and I get it now! :-)
One day the kids asked about what "organic" meant. "It was the way Mom and I grew up. It's all anybody knew." The apples weren't all beautiful in a store-bought way and the eggs didn't all match perfectly. We didn't know they were supposed to so we just ate. It was wonderful. I miss it a lot sometimes.
"No interest in Shakespeare," you say. Oh my, such an unbalanced diet! The organic Shalespeare goes well with raisin/oatmeal muchies. For myself, chocolate chip ones are the perfect complement.
I have long since shed the "potato" element in my diet. It was great years ago for helping get off of Prozac (as per the book "Potatoes, Not Prozac,") but it's a bit too starchy for me these days. Good news about Chad.