2006.09.07 You can't rat-tionalize away a pot belly

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Because I can’t stomach the thought of slow-moving water swirling around my feet when I’m taking a shower, I am willing to negotiate with my husband.

“If you get the rat out of the drain, I’ll wash all the silverware,” I tell him.

“There is no rat in the drain,” he says. “I just took a shower and there was no rat in the drain.”

“Of course there was!” I insist. “Just because you take short showers and don’t use much water doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

I’m not nearly as bad as our teenager Maddie who steps into the shower only to emerge days later, but I’m in there long enough, with water pressure potent enough, to create a puddle at my feet when there is a rat in the drain. To be fair, the rat is really more like a little bitty mouse at this stage. But I know if I don’t get in my request for removal before David is totally absorbed with putting out the paper, the mouse will grow to the size of a chihuahua.

I have written before about “rats” in the drain, that gag-inducing mass of hair and soap scum and who knows what other awful stuff that accumulates in the bathtub drain occasionally. I have to rely on David to remove it because just the thought makes me quiver and gag. I would sooner hire a plumber than send the snake down and that expense is enough to motivate David—that and the promise of not having to wash the silverware.

We’ve never seriously entertained the idea of buying a dishwasher, but I think some day the silverware will drive me to it. I love washing a bunch of bowls and plates, but I downright hate washing silverware. Lately, I’ve been leaving it for David because he doesn’t mind it so much. It’s one of his dandiest features—he doesn’t mind tackling gross projects.

And he’s also learning to be quite tactful.

A few weeks ago, I bought a copy of a magazine called “First: for women on the go,” mainly because of its blaring cover headline: “Stubborn Belly Fat?” and interesting subhead: “The way it’s deposited reveals which gland has slowed down—and is packing on fat.”

The headline of the story inside read, “What shape is your belly?” Three choices—square, circle and oval—were accompanied by descriptions of what’s happening hormonally. A quick quiz of symptoms identified the gland—thyroid, adrenals or ovaries—that may be influencing the shape of your stomach.

I read the article, which seemed like it could be all hokum, took the quiz anyway, concluded I was a “circle” with a “distinct potbelly shape,” and turned to David for confirmation.

“What do you think? Square, circle or oval?” I asked, exposing my stomach to him.

“Oval,” he said immediately.

“Don’t you think I have a potbelly?” I asked, surprised that he had a different opinion.

“I can’t even answer that,” he said. “I’d be missing parts of my body later.”

Well, maybe tactful isn’t quite the word. Maybe careful is more like it.

When I complained that I’d been exercising for more than a month in preparation for the Neal Singles run and had only lost about three pounds, David said, “Well, that’s not the reason you’re doing it, is it? To lose weight?”

“Well, no, but I thought it might be a side effect,” I said while munching on a muffin  heavily studded with chocolate chips and walnuts.

“Losing weight has a lot to do with what you eat,” he began, before realizing he was heading into dangerous territory.

My problem is, the more I exercise, the hungrier I get. And then I think, well, heck, I just walked/jogged three miles, I need to keep my strength up. Deep down, I know I’m just fueling my pot (or oval) belly, but rationalization is a powerful thing.

Now, if I could just make myself apply the process of rationalization to removing rats  from drains, I could probably avoid washing silverware for quite some time.

- Sept. 7, 2006 

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