I probably shouldn't admit this to you younger readers, but when my generation was your age, we did some pretty stupid things. I'm talking about taking CRAZY risks. We drank water right from the tap. We used aspirin bottles that you could actually open with your bare hands. We bought appliances that were not festooned with helpful safety warnings such as "DO NOT BATHE WITH THIS TOASTER".
But for sheer insanity, the wildest thing we did was -- prepare to be shocked -- we deliberately ingested carbohydrates.
I know, I know. It was wrong. But we were young and foolish, and there was a lot of peer pressure. You'd be at a party, and there would be a lava lamp blooping away, and a Jimi Hendrix record playing (a "record" was a primitive compact disc that operated by static electricity). And then, when the mood was right, somebody would say: "You wanna do some 'drates?" And the next thing you know, there'd be a bowl of pretzels going around, or crackers, or even potato chips, and we'd put these things into our mouths and just ... EAT them.
I'm not proud of this. My only excuse was that we were ignorant. It's not like now, when everybody knows how bad carbohydrates are, and virtually every product is advertised as being "low-carb", including beer, denture adhesives, floor wax, tires, life insurance and Viagra. Back then, we had no idea. Nobody did! Our own MOTHERS gave us bread!
Today, of course, nobody eats bread. People are terrified of all carbohydrates, as evidenced by the recent mass robbery at a midtown Manhattan restaurant, where 87 patrons turned their wallets over to a man armed only with a strand of No. 8 spaghetti. ("Do what he says! He has pasta!") The city of Beverly Hills has been evacuated twice this month because of reports -- false, thank heavens -- that terrorists had put a bagel in the water supply.
But as I say, in the old days we didn't recognize the danger of carbohydrates. We believed that the reason you got fat was from eating "calories", which are tiny units of measurement that cause food to taste good. When we wanted to lose weight, we went on low-calorie diets in which we ate only inedible foods such as celery, which is actually a building material, and grapefruit, which is nutritious, but offers the same level of culinary satisfaction as chewing on an Odor Eater.
The problem with the low-calorie diet was that a normal human could stick to it for, at most, four hours, at which point he or she would have no biological choice but to sneak out to the garage and snork down an entire bag of Snickers, sometimes without removing the wrappers. So nobody lost weight, and everybody felt guilty all the time. Many people, in desperation, turned to disco.
But then along came the bold food pioneer who invented the Atkins Diet: Dr. Something Atkins. After decades of research on nutrition and weight gain -- including the now-famous Hostess Ding Dong Diet Experiment, which resulted in a laboratory rat the size of a Plymouth Voyager -- Dr. Atkins discovered an amazing thing: Calories don't matter! What matter are carbohydrates, which result when a carbo molecule and a hydrate molecule collide at high speeds and form tiny invisible doughnuts.
Dr. Atkins' discovery meant that -- incredible though it seemed -- as long as you avoided carbohydrates, you could, without guilt, eat high-fat, high-calorie foods such as cheese, bacon, lard, pork rinds and whale. You could eat an entire pig, as long as the pig had not recently been exposed to bread.
At first, like other groundbreaking pioneers such as Galileo and Eminem, Dr. Atkins met with skepticism, even hostility. The low-calorie foods industry went after him big time. The Celery Growers Association hired a detective to -- yes -- stalk him. His car tires were repeatedly slashed by what police determined to be shards of Melba toast.
But Dr. Atkins persisted, because he had a dream -- a dream that, some day, he would help the human race by selling it 427 million diet books. And he did, achieving vindication for his diet before his tragic demise in an incident that the autopsy report listed as "totally unrelated to the undigested 28-pound bacon cheeseburger found in his stomach".
But the Atkins Diet lives on, helping millions of Americans to lose weight. The irony is, you can't tell this by looking at actual Americans, who have, as a group, become so heavy that North America will soon be underwater as far inland as Denver. Which can only mean one thing: You people are still sneaking Snickers. You should be ashamed of yourselves! Got any more?
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