Elliot stood on the scale. The nurse measured his height by sliding up the indicator and then read it out loud, “Six-two and a half,” she said. She moved the lever to read his weight and said, “Three-hundred and sixty-two.”
“I wish you wouldn’t have told me that,” he said, stepping off the scale and sliding back into his Birkenstocks.
“Sit here and the doctor will be with your shortly.”
Elliot sat down, wincing at the strain coming from the waistband on his pants. Oh this pair of pants has got to go, he thought. How much have I spent on just new clothes alone this year?
Let alone food.
After what seemed an eternity, the doc finally came in, looked down at his clipboard and then down at Elliot. “What can I do for you today?”
Elliot sighed. “Doc I can’t stop it, I’ve tried.”
“Elliot it’s been,” he looked at the clipboard, “only three weeks since you’ve been here and you’ve gained almost fifteen pounds. Have you been following the diet we put you on?”
Elliot looked flummoxed and hung his head low. Doesn’t this doc know how hard it is? He wondered how in the world a skinny doc like this who had to be twenty years his junior could ever understand what he’s going through.
“Elliot you’ve got to exhibit some self-control,” he said while checking his blood pressure. “You’re up to one-ninety over a hundred. That’s dangerous. It looks like the blood pressure meds aren’t working. Now tell me what a typical day is like. I mean as far as what you eat and how much exercise you’ve been doing.”
“Doc I’ve been trying real hard. Like I said, I can’t stop.”
“Well what did you eat yesterday then?”
“Well it started out pretty good. I had the breakfast that you had on the paper. Just the four eggs and four pieces of toast and the grapefruit. I hate the grapefruit.” He looked up the doc, sweat breaking out on his face. He reached down and adjusted his waistband and sat back in the chair. “But it happens all the time. By lunchtime I’m telling ya I’m just famished. I need a lift and I start not to feel good. Well I get so hungry is what I’m saying. And dizzy sometimes.”
The doctor’s expression was one of sincerity. “Well what did you have for lunch?”
“The morning was rough. I mean at work it was stressful. The guy that’s been sitting in the cubicle next to me for the last ten years got let go. How could that happen, I mean is that fair?”
“I don’t know if it’s fair Elliot. What does that have to do with what you had for lunch?” The doc smiled at him and Elliot saw him sneak a peek at the clock at the wall. “What did you wind up eating for lunch Elliot?”
“Doc it has a lot to do with what I had for lunch. I told you when I get too stressed I have to eat. It calms me down and makes me feel better. I had to get out of there- I wound up going to McDonalds for lunch. I mean it’s real close by work. I’ve been going there for years like I told you.”
“So what did you eat? Remember we talked about how they have lots there you could get like salads and what not.”
“I ordered what I usually do, the large chocolate shake and burgers and stuff.”
“So you did have the shake. Remember that’s 1160 calories. We only want you having 2500 a day, right? So what else did you eat?”
“I got what I usually do, like I said. Two double quarter-pounders with cheese and a large fry and then a chocolate sundae. You know I said I can’t give up those sundaes. I was so stressed out I was sweating. I mean waiting in the drive thru thinking about work and that guy being fired and all that. I mean after all those years working there! I couldn’t control myself.”
The doc wrote on the clipboard. He looked up at Elliot over his young man fancy glasses, then shook his head. He put the clipboard down and sat in a chair, pulling it up close to Elliot so they were almost touching knee-to-knee. “Elliot you can’t go on like this you know it. You’ll wind up having a heart attack. You have to exhibit some self-control. Will power, remember?”
“Yeh will power.” He looked into the doc’s face. He just doesn’t know. “Doc maybe it’s psychological. I mean how hard I try and I can’t resist.” He looked down at his shoes. “I wish you could help me.”
“Elliot I can’t help you if you don’t help yourself. You have to be strong. You can’t go on like this.”
“No I can’t go on like this.”
Elliot pulled out of the parking lot. This was a real waste of time, he thought.
He went into the grocery store, stomach rumbling and face red and flushed. Hm, what’ll be today? He started to feel cheered by browsing the different options and got excited when he came to a decision. “Yes, I’ll do the sandwiches,” he said outloud. The lady next to him pushing her cart looked at him. He smiled and returned to his mission. Will power pff, he said to himself.
He took a number at the deli counter and the lady behind it said, “Hi Elliot, what’ll it be?”
“Hi. I’ll take two pounds of that roast beef that I got last time, what was it the peppercorn? And a pound of sharp cheddar.”
“Okay just give me a few,” she said courteously.
“I’ll be right back.”
Elliot went into the bread aisle, and picked up two loaves of that awesome potato bread. He went to the next aisle and got a large jar of mayo, then headed to produce for tomatoes. Eh, the hell with them, he thought. I don’t really need tomatoes and I have that microwavable bacon at home anyway. I can add a few slices of bacon and that’ll be good.
We’re all set.
Elliot picked up his deli meat and the cashier rung him up.
“Thirty-six dollars,” she said.
Elliot paid the cashier and headed out the door for home. He was filled with anticipation and excited about eating and finally relaxing. The day hadn’t been anything special at all. And that doc talks about will power, who cares?
He stood at the kitchen counter and pulled out the cutting board and laid out eight slices of bread. He piled mayo, roast beef and then cheese on four of the slices and topped them with the other pieces of bread. The hell with the bacon, he thought. He licked the mayo off the spoon and put it in the sink and poured himself a big glass of milk. He sat at the dining room table, opened up his pants and pulled down his fly. Ahh, that’s better. He turned on the TV and brought the first sandwich up to his eager mouth.
Life is good.