Lunch Culture and the Expanding Waistline
I never wanted to work in an office, at a desk, with a telephone glued to one ear and a lukewarm mug of bad coffee clenched in my fist. Even as a kid I always pictured myself more of a bluejeans guy, a man in the field with a full tank of gas and an open glove compartment door for a desk. And so it was for many years.
Nowadays, with this gig, I spend a lot of time putzing around the office and doing what I never thought I would: sitting on my ass, making phone calls and slamming the obligatory three daily cups of full-strength bean-squeezins (which I now refer to as ‘go-juice’).
And I’m cool with that ‘— I’ve even come to cherish the more sedentary, cerebral nature of my job and how it’s tempered by the kinetic energy of the office. What’s not cool is that after a few months on the job, my pants don’t fit so good anymore. And I’m not alone.
That’s right: after the first few weeks of crazy hours, frenzied production and a near-narcotic energy derived from the project itself, the staff here at YES! Weekly started to eat. And the subject of food has invaded our office culture ever since.
I suppose it was inevitable ‘— the staff is rife with gourmands who have served time in the restaurant business and as food writers; we’re often discussing the merits of certain dishes for our Ten Best page (see this week’s offering: Greensboro’s Ten Best Cheap Lunches on page 4) and we have a section dedicated to food each week. And hey ‘— ya gotta eat, right? A little lunch? Maybe a small bite in the afternoon?
But it’s getting out of hand.
We’ll sometimes do bagels or McDonalds in the mornings with coffee, and sometimes we’ll get the super coffees with syrups and foam and whipped cream on top. Boxes of cookies, seasonal treats and homemade goodies often make their way to our office, to be consumed with gusto within the span of a workday. Situated near the front door of our offices is a trio of glass decanters filled with heavy rations of candy that magically replenish each night.
Then there’s lunch’….
Jeez, we could talk about lunch all day over here. And lunch talk could break out before even the first coffee pot fills.
‘“What you gonna do for lunch?’”
‘“I don’t know’… I hadn’t thought about it. You?’”
‘“I don’t know. You wanna go out?’”
‘“We could go out. We could go get something and bring it back.’”
‘“Or we could order in and have it delivered.’”
And so it goes until the lunch hour, which may fall as early as 10:30 a.m. around here ‘— I kid you not. Then lunch is consumed, either on or off-premises, and the merits of the meal are debated and weighed. Was it a good lunch? Were any sides available? How did they stand up? Are you still hungry? You gonna go back? Successful lunches from weeks past are recalled with zeal while other, less gustatory experiences are derided with cruel glee. And of course it’s never too early to start talking about tomorrow’s lunch’….
We also have a collective late-afternoon submarine sandwich jones that we answer with some regularity.
And after weeks of this, there is more of me than ever before. As I’ve said, my pants don fit quite right; my shirts are starting to pucker between the buttons; even my wedding ring fits tighter these days. Where I once worked towards muscular shoulders and arms, now I just want to avoid man-boobs.
I decided to face the music and look up my body mass index, my BMI number (halls.md/body-mass-index/) that uses my height and weight to quantify the end product of my weeks of sloth and gluttony. I made everybody else in the office check theirs, too.
That proved to be an unpopular decision. It seems I’m not alone in my recent expansion ‘— many of the others hovered near the ‘overweight’ indicator and none were too pleased with their assessment. I myself, even after configuring my proportions in the most flattering light I could rationalize, was deemed ‘overweight’ by the indicator, which undoubtedly was designed by twisted, pencil-thin freaks who take pleasure in undermining our senses of self-worth.
Still, I find my ranking unacceptable. Clearly something must be done.
Sit-ups are out of the question, as I find them undignified. Liposuction is no good because I don’t trust doctors and am also afraid of needles. I’m willing to cut out mayonnaise almost completely, but I don’t think that will do it.
So next week I’m gonna go out and get myself some new pants.
To comment on this column, e-mail Brian Clarey at firstname.lastname@example.org.