2008-09-04 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

The forks in the road; the forks in the pies
By Sam Bari

The lazy crazy days of summer are officially behind us. Labor Day was the grim reminder. Despite the high price of fuel, everyone appears to have survived the perceived inconvenience. Although adjustments had to be made, many were for the better.

Due to budget considerations, many of us had to cancel long drives to the mountains and other far away destinations. However, relaxing vacations at home turned into rewarding experiences. Those who stayed behind rediscovered their neighborhoods, towns, and the attractions in their immediate areas. I believe a sense of "community" and an appreciation for everything that makes "home" meaningful was reestablished.

Now, a faint aroma of winter wafts down from the north, and evenings bring on a little chill reminiscent of the days of our youth. That back to school smell is definitely in the air. You remember the time, when the girl next door or the boy across the street suddenly grew up, and you took notice.

Hmmm . . . "Did that person live there all these years?" you asked yourself. Then you remembered chasing her away when she wanted to play with the boys, or if you're a woman, you remembered you and your girlfriends laughing at "the short little dork." Then she became this year's head cheerleader, and he turned into Mr. Football.

"He/she won't remember those insignificant incidents," you said to yourself. "We were little kids then. I think I'll just go over and get reacquainted." And when you mustered the courage to strike up a neighborly conversation, you discovered they remembered all right. They remembered big time. Then you really regretted that decision to be mean all those years ago.

"I definitely took a wrong fork in that road," you muttered under your breath as you walked away red-faced and embarrassed. "From the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan" suddenly had meaning. It was not just another moral from a boring fairy tale.

As life moved on we found many more forks in the road and the necessity for making good decisions. For instance, after getting married and having children, many of us were faced with the decision of whether we should throw our offspring out of the nest to see what it's like to forage on their own. Since they have such little regard for the hardships that parents must endure, we ask ourselves, "Why not allow them a small taste of independence?" Why? Because they are only five-years old. That's why.

Fortunately, we have experts who can help us deal with those unreasonable moments. I believe my son is going through some of those moments now. Occasionally, he calls and asks, "Dad, how did you ever survive fatherhood?" I gently tell him, "Patience, my son. You must have patience."

I did not tell him that my methodology for attaining patience landed me in a 12-step program that I shall be involved in for the rest of my most lamentable life.

I do not understand my son's impatience with my grandson, who is an exceptionally bright little boy. He is just fulfilling his grandfather's wishes so his daddy will one day have an understanding of what he put his parents through so many years ago. Heh-heh. I just love that kid.

Now we are coming up on a crossroad that confronts most of us every year. As soon as that little fall nip is in the air, and Saturdays and Sundays are spent in front of televisions or in stadium parking lots tailgating until the game begins, we know the season is upon us. Oh no — it's a bit soon for the Holidays. However, it is not too soon for the eating season. It always eases into our lives when we least expect it, somewhere around this time of year. I believe it has something to do with the harvest.

That's when pumpkin pies are found on supermarket shelves and cooling on grandma's windowsill. Hot chocolate with whipped cream piled high on top of the cup becomes an everyday experience. The aroma of baked goods and pastries constantly permeates the crisp fall air, up city streets and down country roads. And we, the poor defenseless mortals that we are, must resist the temptations of the food sirens as we pass through the valley of the food courts and deny the irresistible street vendors as they peddle their wares.

We remember how hard we worked last spring to lose that weight so we would look good on the beach wearing shorts and bikinis. But we did it! We lost those five ugly pounds of gelatinous fat. Unfortunately, we should have lost 40 — or more.

And now, we are again at the crossroads. Do we want to experience the pain of a weight loss program again? Do we want to go through the denial, the sacrifi ce, and the trips to the gym before the sun comes up? Is that how we want to live? Of course it isn't. That's why we are going to do the right thing and make a good decision.

We are going to have just a little taste of that pumpkin pie. We are not going to eat a whole piece. We will have a sip of that hot chocolate. We do not need the whipped cream. And . . . and . . . we know we're going to be back in the gym in the spring because we are weak. Just give up. Give in and eat. How can we be expected to resist the irresistible when we live in a system we can't understand?

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