Salad ‘Speriment

I’m posting this because I’m hoping that my doctor might see it.

He’s been after me to change my eating habits.  It’s the same old tiresome nanny-like refrain — eat less meat, and when you do eat meat, make it chicken or turkey, and try to eat more fish, and eat more leafy green vegetables.  Lots more vegetables.  Except in my case, the latter request means eat any leafy green vegetables, because I loathe them with every fiber of my being and typically avoid them like the plague.  There are sound scientific reasons for doing so, and anyway you can plausibly argue that the U.S. Supreme Court, deep down, agrees with me.

IMG_0092But you have to listen to your doctor, don’t you?  And when you’re past the double-nickel milestone, you feel like you really should listen to your doctor.  You’re supposed to be wise and savvy at that point, and after all, you’re paying the guy.  And who knows?  Maybe with that M.D. degree he might actually have some useful insight into how I might actually be able to avoid the many appalling health calamities that routinely seem to strike down men my age.

So today, when I went out to lunch with an astonished associate from the firm, I ordered a salad.  This is the first lunch salad I’ve ever ordered.  In fact, it’s the first salad of any type I’ve ever ordered.  In fact, it’s the first salad I’ve actually consumed.  It was an arugula and spinach salad with cranberries and goat cheese and grilled butternut squash, with grilled chicken on the side to make it palatable and some kind of dressing.

And I ate every bit of it, Dr. Z!  Every bit!  Because I was hungry, and would have eaten the plate!  Are you satisfied?  Because I have to tell you that the entire time I was munching on the leafy green items that apparently are my failsafe ticket to long life, I was thinking of a cheeseburger.

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About That “Sexual Satisfaction” Survey

In Columbus, we periodically hear about studies that rate our fair city as number 7 in this category or number 14 in that one.  Now Time magazine tells us that Columbus ranks number 2 in a “sexual satisfaction” survey by Men’s Health magazine.  (Indianapolis ranks number 1, Fort Wayne, Indiana is number 3, and Cincinnati is number 4, so the Midwest is well represented on the list.)

How do you determine “sexual satisfaction” on a city-wide basis when many, if not most, people consider their intimate relationships to be their own, deeply private business — particularly in a reserved Midwestern burg like Columbus?  Men’s Health looked at condom sales, birth rates, and the sale of sex toys and other erotic paraphernalia from two retailers I’ve never heard of (Babeland and Pure Romance).  I’m skeptical that looking at just these factors gives the Men’s Health survey the same scientific weight as, say, the Kinsey reports.  The factors may have some relation to sex, but they don’t necessarily seem to correlate with “satisfaction.”  Higher condom sales may just indicate that people are being more responsible in practicing safe sex, not that they are having more (or more rewarding) sex.  And the sale of sex toys could mean just about anything, including that the maid of honor thought a few racy gifts given to the reserved bride might spice up the bachelorette party.

I don’t know if Columbus is more “sexually satisfied” than Lexington, Kentucky, which Men’s Health placed at number 100, and I’m not going to try to find out.  We don’t talk about such things in polite company, thank you very much.

Like A Painful, Living Commercial

If you tried to gauge the importance of specific health issues in modern America solely on the basis of how many commercials are devoted to treatments of the condition, you would undoubtedly conclude that male impotence is the most crucial health issue confronting Americans today.

Every one of those commercials has the curious “risk factor” disclosure that states that if a guy who takes the drug experiences an erection that lasts more than four hours, he should consult a doctor.  Now there’s a lawsuit going to trial that’s like that — except the erection lasted for eight monthsEight months?  Yikes!

The case involves the installation of an inflatable penile pump gone awry.  The plaintiff says the operation left him in a condition where he couldn’t perform normally daily activities, like picking up the newspaper and riding his motorcycle.  The defendant says that sometimes operations just don’t work, through no fault of anyone, and that in any case the plaintiff should have known that there was a problem when his scrotum swelled up to the size of a volleyball.  The size of a volleyball?  Double yikes!

The plaintiff apparently stuck with the implant and had it removed only when tubing from the implant punctured his scrotum during a family trip to Niagara Falls.  Punctured his scrotum on a family trip to Niagara Falls?  Triple yikes!

I recognize that impotence causes significant emotional and psychological issues for many men suffering from that condition . . . but boy, I would have to think long and hard (bad pun alert) before running the risk of those kinds of potential consequences.

Dining Hungry Heifer-Style

In a classic episode of Cheers, Norm — “Norm!” — talked about eating at the Hungry Heifer, a blue-collar dining hall where the portions were immense because all of the food was imitation.  Woody, intrigued, decided to join Norm for a meal.  When he returned to the bar he explained that the imitation food had to be called by a slightly different name, then raved about the “loobster” and “beff.”

IMG_3746Lately I feel like I’ve been channeling my inner Norm.

When my doctor told me to try to eat more fish and less red meat I groaned.  I don’t mind the taste of fish, but it’s a pain to prepare and tends to stink up the house.  One day at the neighborhood Kroger, however, I noticed packages of chilled imitation crab and imitation lobster.  They were cheap, so I decided to give them a try.  Surprisingly, they were tasty, and now they’ve been worked into my evening meal rotation on days when we don’t feel like making a big sit-down meal.  I feel good about listening to my doc when I buy them, because they have a “heart healthy” logo, too.

What’s in the imitation crab and lobster?  Mostly Alaska pollock, apparently.  The ingredient list also indicates that the product includes water, wheat starch, sodium, extracts of crab, oyster, scallop, lobster, cutlassfish, anchovy, and bonito, fish oil, rice wine, egg whites, and corn starch, as well as some more exotic sounding experiments from the chemistry lab, like disodium inosinate, guanylate, titanium dioxide, carmine, and canthaxanthin.  For all of that, the imitation lobster and crab taste pretty much like lobster and crab.  And, on the laundry list you won’t find anything that looks or sounds like red meat.  So, on any random night you might find me munching on some imitation crab leg, feeling good about my dietary habits and food spend, and inevitably thinking:  “Norm!

Look, Doc, I’m Eating Fish!

IMG_2330When you’re an aging guy in your 50s, your doctor tends to be concerned mostly with your prostate and your blood statistics.

Fortunately, my prostate hasn’t exploded — yet — or ballooned to basketball size, and most of my blood statistics are within the optimal range.  The only exception is “bad” cholesterol, where I’m two points above the maximum target.  My excellent doctor presented three options — start to take medication, go in for some kid of scan, or try to change my diet and eat more fish and chicken and turkey and less fatty red meat.

On general principles, I try to avoid medication or medical procedures unless they are essential.  So, I’m going to try the diet modification approach.  This is not as easy as it sounds — and not just because I can’t image a more succulent meal than a juicy cheeseburger or a sizzling New York strip.  I’m prone to poultry-fatigue, and when you live in the land-locked Midwest it’s hard to eat fresh fish.  And, let’s face it — fish that isn’t fresh blows.  It’s rubbery or dry or oily and not very appetizing.

IMG_2331When you come to a seaside resort, however, eating seafood becomes as easy as sipping that chilled glass of rum punch.  The fish are beautiful, absolutely fresh, and perfectly cooked and prepared.  The raw tuna appetizer shown above, half of a Caribbean lobster, a local fish served hot from the griddle, and a swordfish filet with a white bean sauce — all have gone down very easy.

So far I’ve had fish for lunch and dinner, and I’d have it for breakfast if it were offered — it’s that good.  Who knows?  This one vacation may get me below the line.

Hey, doc!  Look!  I’m eating fish!