I swear to God, if Evian slapped the words, “Low Carb” on their bottles of water, their sales would go through the fucking roof. Everywhere you go now it’s Low Carb this, Low Carb that, Atkin’s approved and ready for your slightly more expensive consumption. I’ve considered slapping that annoying little “A” on my ass and seeing if it ups my desirability with health conscious people throughout the city.
Fad diets are a phenomenom not uncommon to our culture. They’ve been around ever since the days of Kellogg, health clinics and snake oil, we as Americans, are simply not comfortable with the simple facts about losing weight. Eat less, move more and you won’t be fat. Granted, this is a generalization, there are people all over the world with real eating disorders, thyroid conditions and uncontrollable desires for Big Macs that don’t fit the mold (pardon the pun), but in reality, will a loaf of Low-Carb Bread cure that disease? No, no it won’t.
So why the Atkins diet? Why should this one make me any more angry than Deal a Meal or the Zone? Well first of all, Richard Simmons is a loveable scamp who’s genuine love for the elderly obese has earned him an enduring spot in the region of my heart reserved for kitsch and camp. But more importantly, this Atkins guy is every where you go.
I’ve slowly been reaching a boiling point on this issue for almost a year. When Atkins merchandise started showing up on the grocery stands, I dismissed it out of pure silliness, after all, at one point my mother’s refridgerator was filled with Weight Watcher’s cupcakes and microwave meals. They were horrible, like Eastern European impressionist pictures of food.
Two relatively recent happenings have sent me over the edge as far as Fatkins is concerned. The first happened a few weeks ago as I was sitting down to enjoy a fine piece of cinema in Union Square. I’m not sure which movie it was, but I’m willing to bet it was Harry Potter and I’m even more willing to bet I was all by myself, I strain for new personal lows like you can medal in them at the Olympics.
We’d just finished up a rousing episode of “The Twenty.” Aptly named, it’s a twenty minute long group masturbation exercise for advertising companies. Various related media projects, all no doubt owned by the company that owns the theater vomit their product plugs on the screen like you’re getting a special sneak peek at something very special. I generally fantasize about being a monkey during this part of the show.
Just as the movie was about to go into its next forty five minute advertising fit of tourette’s syndrome, the previews, I was greeted by the beginning of what appeared to be a pretty cool song. Before I knew it, I was engrossed in a mini movie of people break dancing in hotel lobbies, defying society by getting out of their cars in a traffic jam, saying NO! to corporate dominance by dancing around the produce section like Walmart Side Story.
And then this white chick with blond dreads rocking out at some massive warehouse rave grabs a can of C-2 Coca Cola and starts sucking on it like it’s full of oxygen and she’s stuck at the bottom of the ocean. Half the carbs, half the calories, be yourself, stick it to the man! The chorus strikes up, “I want to be Fre-eeee!”
I almost puked.
Am I the only one seeing the irony in the world’s largest brand saying, “Be yourself, join the worldwide Low Carb craze?” I wanted to dig up Dr. Atkin’s body cover him in wheat.
I complained about the commercial to any and all who would listen, surprise, surprise, until yesterday when I came face to face with how far this Zombie-like plague has infected our culture.
I was up in Spanish Harlem, getting my haircut. Yes, my barber had taken me back, no begging required. There was, as usual, a line, so I decided to put my place in and hop across to the Northeast side of 116th and 1st and grab a bite to eat at my favorite greasy spoon diner in the city, the Delightful Diner.
There’s nothing delightful about this place. When I lived across the street from it, I would regularly eat there simply because of the proximity. The eggs are either runny or over cooked, the coffee smacks of bleach and the local crazies accumulate there like loco belly button lint. The seats are hard, the wall clock is wrong, the formica is from the 70’s and not the groovy 70’s, I mean the pea soup green offensive polyester pattern 70’s.
For all those reason, I grew to love that place. It was unhealthy, part of the neighborhood, a place where I was a regular. So I went in, sat down and ordered some breakfast.
Pancakes, bacon, hash browns and toast.
“AND toast?” The waittress asked me.
“Yeah, why?” I replied, wondering if the toast had gone bad like in early 2002.
“Isn’t that a lot of Carbs? You know it’s not healthy.”
I wanted to rip that slightly tilting, oversized anal bead they called a stool and throw it through a window. Here, in the Delightful diner, where the chef’s hair is so short and curly you’re forced to wonder where that strand in your soup came from, I was getting a lecture on carbs.
“Just give me the toast, I think I’ll survive.”
First off, carbs are not unhealthy. The Atkins diet is all about avoiding carbs to keep your body from adding weight, not losing it. But somehow, through all the hype, all the permutations, like a giant game of love handle telephone, carbs have become the new anti christ of our day and age. Eat them, and you shall perish, ever more. Avoid them and thou shalt live forever more, as a skinny person. Blessed are the Atkinites, for they shall inherit the bacon. And so on.
I’ll never understand fads, fad diets or cultural crazes in general. What is it about Humans that make them so susceptible to suggestion? Why are we so in need of unneeded guidance when we know the simple answers to simple questions?
Back in 1999, I tried to start a diet of my own. You’d be surprised at how effective the Black Coffee and Pack-a-day diet worked. If only I were an M.D., I’d be a billionaire right now.