Friday, August 12, 2005


Time for a little mundane reality, Bush. I'm sure you have weighty matters on your mind this morning. On mine, I have just the weight. I mean, literally: pounds. I recall reading a few weeks ago that you had managed to lose several since your last annual physical, and I have to say I envy you the willpower, particularly with all that stress you must be under. I don't approve of much you do--as I expect you will have guessed by now--but I certainly applaud this remarkable achievement. I guess you have help, with all those White House chefs at your disposal, and probably dietary consultants writing up your menus for you. Then there's those reputed two hours of exercise a day. The mountain bike. Jogging. And I imagine that you have a gym wherever you go--even on Air Force One. A couple of trainers... And I know you gave up drinking quite a while ago. That makes a big difference. Even so, with all those affairs of state--not to mention the political dinners!--I'm sure there's no shortage of temptations. You did well.

It's a stressful time for us, too, as you must have gathered by now. To cope with it all, I've been eating and drinking with abandon, just for the comfort that eating and drinking bring. The results are becoming painfully obvious: a distinct protrusion below the sternum, a marked loss of energy, and frequent, sometimes noisy internal reminders that the digestive system is overloaded. I understand that the aesthetic problem is largely one of vanity: I see how other men look with their big bellies--there's an awful lot of them around these days, Bush. Have you noticed?--and the truth is, I don't want to look like they do. I find it distinctly unattractive. And, as it used to be in the days when I was smoking cigarettes, I look around and notice that I have a greater admiration for those men who exercise the self-restraint I lack.

I could, however, disregard the part that has to do with vanity. What I'm finding harder and harder to tolerate is the sheer discomfort of the extra weight, and the loss of energy I associate with it. I have no shortage of excuses: aside from the relief of stress, I take great pleasure in my gourmandise. I love good food, I love good wine. I love to eat heartily, and love to see others indulging in these pleasures. (By the same token, I can't stand sitting with folks who peck at their plates and fuss over every calorie. They drive me potty.) But I can't do it as I used to, with impunity. Until I was forty-five or so, I could eat and drink what I wanted without any visible effect: I was just naturally thin. Or so I thought. But now my metabolism has apparently changed. I drink a single glass of wine and swell up like a balloon.

Anyway, I thought that in making a public declaration of intention, I could maybe shame myself into taking some action on this front. So, Bush, I plan to follow your good example and shed a few pounds. First, the baby steps: smaller portions, no coming back for seconds. I should be able to manage that, and will report back to you in a week or so. You can help to keep me honest. Otherwise, of course, I'd be grateful for any tips you might be willing to share with me. And wish me luck, okay?

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