Thursday, March 25, 2010

But I Don't Look Fat!

I don't know what kind of fan I am but, I love to watch NBC's The Biggest Loser.  Would it be fair to say that I'm not a dedicated fan, because, I don't watch the entire two hours.  That is way too long for me to watch a show about a bunch of people who have spent most of their life eating and sitting on the couch.  If I wanted to see that show I'd install a mirror on the wall opposite my easy chair.  I watch only for the weigh-in.

My life, since I was in high school, might be best described in my second favorite phrase; "You look like you've been through a famine, I looked like I caused it."  I am the "I".

My favorite quotation is "How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterwards."  I guess that that motto created the environment for the famine quote.

I weighed 160lbs when I graduated from high school.  Height, 5'10".  My pant size was 31".  Shirt size, 15 and a 1/2. 

I ran six miles a day, just for fun.  I didn't grow up on video games, TV, and computers, primarily because there was only TV and that was just a few channels.  The only good show on TV was JP Patches, so getting hooked on TV was no big deal.  I worked as a salesman for a big and tall mens' clothing store.  I was too small to fit the clothes.

Fast forward, October 3, 2010.  It's a Saturday.  I didn't intend to get to this position in life but I have.

51 years old, 5'11" tall, weight, 297lbs., 44" waist, shirt size 19".  I'm not working in the big and tall store anymore, I'm the customer.  And I've heard all the justifications for nearly 30 years.

"You don't look that big" or "You have a big frame", "You carry it well".  The only thing that anybody said that was true was that I look good regardless of my weight.  Which was true.

I'm humble too.

But 297 is so close to 300 that I really started thinking that I was 300.  But I looked good.

And at 6am, early on that Saturday, October 3rd, I thought about my grandmother, the only one that I grew up knowing.  She died in August of 1981, complications from diabetes.  She was 61.  Her doctor's told her what to do all her life to control her diabetes.

For the past two years my doctor, a brilliant doctor named Rachael Gonzalez, has been treating me as "pre-diabetic".  Which means I'm just one step away from having Type II Diabetes.  My "A1C", one of the most important numbers that you can know, was 5.9.  6.0 would make me a diabetic.  I was on blood pressure medicine, diabetic medication, I have sleep apnea (I snored at 84 decibals!) and I have used a CPAP machine for about 13 years.  But at 297lbs. people said I looked good.


Saturday, October 3rd I woke up and realized that I was my grandma.  Well, not literally.  That would be a silly thought.  I couldn't pull off the blue hair.  No, I was 51 and she died at 61.  I woke up and realized that I was going to die in 10 years.

And I love my wife, and my children, and my grandchildren.  I want to know my great-grandchildren.  Maybe even their children.  But guy's with my lifestyle don't live to do that.

Of course, I could end up as a flaming ball of fire on the freeway on any given day. 

But I can't control that.  Saturday, October 3rd I decided that I can do something about me.

I've tried over the years.  Every fad diet, countless exercise machines, ephedra, the Atkins Diet, and the South Beach Diet.  I've lost 25lbs, gained 50.  Lost the 50, gained 60.

I woke up and realized that I was dead in 10 years, if I was lucky to live that long.

So I got up and did something about it.  I went for a walk around the block.  It was a long block.  3.7 miles to be exact.  And I started doing that every day but Sunday.

A few days later I was watching Dr. Oz on TV. I really like his message and his straight talk. He laid out the five things that you can do to shorten your life. Interesting topic. I might have been guilty of doing a few of the things that would shorten my life.

Rather than take up smoking and make it five-for-five I decided to continue walking. And I have since October 3rd.

It’s different this time. I want to live a long, long, long, time. I just don’t want to die.

I’m thinking 125… years.

And since October 3rd I've lost...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

But Can You Get Cable? aka Part 2

My first real job out of high school, ("real job" meaning that it had benefits), was a sales job in a big & tall men's clothing store. At the time I weighed 160 lbs and was 5' 10" tall. Size 10 ½ shoe size. I remember applying for the job and asking the manager if I needed to be big and tall to get the job. I didn't, and I got the job. For the next year and a half I sold shirts and suits to some very tall and some very big men.

It was during that formative year and a half that I learned something very important that I have carried with me through life… I hate shopping.

When I go shopping I am going for one of two reasons; I either know what I want or I'm being less selfish, meaning my wife is with me. I'm slowly converting over to internet shopping but I've got limits to what I'll buy over the internet. For instance, shopping for car parts for my MG, internet, groceries, the local store, t-shirts, cheaper at Wal-Mart, movies and music, depends on what's burning a hole in which pocket.

I don't know if I am supposed to reveal this little tidbit of information, but occasionally the Victoria's Secret catalog arrives in our mailbox. I don't spend a lot of time gazing through the catalog but it is a slow walk from the mail box to the house when it arrives. Which brings us to the question?

What does any of this have to do with my 25th Wedding Anniversary? I mean this is Part 2.

When we left for the B&B outside of Leavenworth, Washington, one of the items that I had to load into the car was a bag from Victoria's Secret. I didn't dare look but as I mentioned, I might have occasionally perused the pages of the catalog, and, I have an active imagination. I was pretty sure that things were not going to be left to my imagination later that evening. I was expecting to get "lucky".

Let's be clear on one thing. My wife is hot, but I had no idea what she would be revealing to me that night. I carefully loaded the little bag of secrets into the car, unloaded it into our room at the B&B, and I never peeked, not once. I didn't want to spoil the surprise. She "slipped" into the bathroom to "freshen up". And then she came out and pleaded with me to open the bag from Vicki.

Strange turn of events.

It was my wife's present to me. She figured that I wouldn't peek in the bag so it was a safe hiding space.

And if I hadn't thought she was sexy before, she certainly kicked it up a notch.


Last week I went to the Supermall to buy new dress shoes. Remember, I hate shopping, but I hate shopping for shoes more than anything. My trip took me to the Nordstrom Rack. Shoes that people didn't want, closeouts, discontinued, etc, etc. There are two prices on the shoes; regular price and the Rack sale price. And I have a question about shoes.


The regular price for some of these shoes was in the low to mid $200 range. Seriously! I'm just covering my feet, what is so special about the materials that make up my shoes? Why is it that of all the clothing that is not made by slave labor and children in developing countries it had to be shoes?

Three paragraphs ago I mentioned that my wife bought me a Kindle. And they're pretty much the same, price. I thought about the differences for awhile, and I compared shoes and the Kindle.

For instance.

The Kindle can wirelessly deliver me a book. The shoes can cover my feet.

With the Kindle I can make the font smaller or bigger, depends on my needs. Shoes, they cover my feet.

My Kindle can stay charged for up to 7 days before recharging. My shoes… cover my feet. I should be fair and say that they do cover the top, bottom, front, and sides of my feet. Still, they cover my feet.

I can make notes on my Kindle, set bookmarks on my Kindle, my Kindle can hold up to 1,500 books, play music in the background, and I can change the reading orientation. I can make notes on my shoes, which would make them look silly, I can make marks with shoes, and if I change the orientation of my shoes I can apply for a handicap sticker.

A Kindle has thousands of free books available, classic books that would cost me thousands of dollars to buy. The download is free. My shoes just cover my feet. And I have to keep them shined.

I'm questioning the value associated with shoes. I will confess something, they not only cover my feet but they do provide some level of comfort. But are they worth $200 plus? I'm not there yet. I'm sure it's a girl thing.

And I want to publicly tell my wife that she did a good thing by buying me the Kindle. You've got me figured out. There is something I haven't figured out though.

When do I get to see what was in the bag originally? My imagination is running wild.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shoes (and Shirts?) Not Required.

My wife and I celebrated 25 years of marriage on February 14th, you know, Valentine's Day. I'll have to take credit for that one. She said no twice before she said yes once. I thought that I was going to save money by getting married on Valentine's Day, just like the guy who gets married on Christmas, or their wife's birthday. Two events, one gift.

Bad logic. Especially on Valentine's Day. Not only do you have to provide a gift for both Valentine's Day and your anniversary, but a double helping of flowers is expected. Everything is expensive on Valentine's Day. It does not save you money, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. It's the best pickup line ever.

January was difficult. I was distracted by a stressful situation at work and a family medical emergency for one of my nieces. During the family situation I learned that I have the patience for my grandchildren but not necessarily my grand-nieces. But all, despite a medical airlift to the University of Washington Medical Center, turned out for the good. We thought we were preparing for a funeral, we ended up getting a medical miracle turnaround.

And then I remembered that my anniversary was just a couple of weeks away, my 25TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

So I had been a little distracted. And that excuse wouldn't fly with my little buttercup. What to do? I do some of my best work under pressure, or, should I say, I do good work under pressure.

I live in the Northwest and the economy sucks. How hard could it be to create a romantic, never to be forgotten, celebration, at the last minute. And I have to say that I have known for months what I wanted to do, I just forgot a few things.

  • It was our 25th so stopping by the roadside and buying a dozen roses for $5 wasn't going to cut it.

  • Hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments should be reserved months in advance.

  • Valentine's Day in 2010 falls on a Sunday.

  • Valentine's Day in 2010 falls on a Sunday.
No, I don't stutter. It seems like there are plenty of open hotel rooms on February 14th, 2010, just not February 13th, 2010, which is the better day to get the hotel room if you want to have a great Valentine's Day or get lucky. Everybody in the State of Washington had reservations for February 13th. It got so bad that when I would click on the "Check Availability" button on the websites for the B&B's that I wanted to take my sugar pie/honey bun to, and the link took me to a site that just laughed at me.

Nothing in Port Townsend, think "An Officer and a Gentlemen". Nothing in Friday Harbor, think "Free Willy". Something in Victoria, Canada, but it turns out their money is worth something these days. Nothing in the little town of Seaside, Oregon, there was, but mostly at one-star locations. And the Town of Leavenworth, Washington, that little German themed town nestled in the Cascade Mountains, 2 hours east of our house? Well, it had no vacancies, was two mountain passes away, and she hates going over one pass to get to the grandkids, two passes is pushing it.

Five days to go, I had nothing. Our (her) plans were to evict the two remaining children from the house between noon and 5pm on Valentine's Day and celebrate 25 years in the comfort of our own home. Yeah, I'm a romantic guy. And then it happened. I made a phone call, in desperation, to the Samuel Beecher House B&B just outside of Leavenworth. Howard Hughes stayed there once, the Queen of Romania stayed here in the 1920's, it looked good on the website. I took a chance, dialed the phone, asked that silly question, you know, the one where you start the conversation by asking the person on the other end of the phone to not laugh when you ask your question. So I did.

Me: "What's the chance that you have an opening February 13th despite the fact that your website says that nothing is available"


Half an hour later I had the reservation. One hour later I was looking at the 5-day weather forecast, 2 hours later I was weaving my deception, I was moving forward.

She knew we were going somewhere, but didn't know where. Dress warm was what I told her, but not too warm.

On the way North on the freeway I was humming the theme for the Olympics. I'm pretty sure that she thought we were going to Canada. Then we turned East, Highway 2 and Stevens Pass. Now she is suspecting Leavenworth, but I assure her that we are not going to stay in Leavenworth, which was true, we were going to Peshastin.

We stopped in Leavenworth, shopped, the first of my sacrifices, we had an old time photo taken, we had bratwurst for lunch. We then moved on to Peshastin.

And I couldn't find the place. I had memorized the location from an aerial photo. What a maroon!

And then she said, pointing in the distance… "That's a cool house." And I recognized the B&B from the web photos.

What happened for the next 18 hours is really none of your business. What I can tell you is that I provided flowers, chocolates, cookies, a nice dinner in Leavenworth, movies, and romance. I actually put that line in to show up the other men that might read this blog.

And she gave me something that showed me that she really is the only woman that knows me….

In part two.