As an incoming high-school freshman, I weighed 170 pounds. Sixteen years later, I weighed somewhere slightly north of 315. That’s a gain of 145. So, with much respect to the late great Allan Sherman, I would like to explain how it came to pass that I got fat:
Pounds 1-3: Freshman year lunch: Pizza, chocolate milk, and a greasylicious cookie in the cafeteria. Every day.
Pounds 4 & 5: Constant access to vending machines featuring chocolate milk.
Pounds 6-10: Discovery of ability to occasionally order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pounds 11-13: Standing summertime Tasty Dog lunch: Nachos, cheese fries, extra-large Pepsi
Pound 14: Fridays in the OPRF high school cafeteria: Taco salad.
Pounds 15-18: Sophomore year, for making-out reasons, I spend several months with two lunch periods.
Pounds 19 & 20: I discover that coming home after everyone else has gone to sleep means that I can have a snack unpestered.
Pounds 21 & 22: Tasty Dog begins carrying deep-fried cheese.
Pounds 23-50: Driver’s license obtained. Walking and bicycling are immediately cut by 80%. Regular errand runs for maternal parent are broken up by lavish snacking.
Pounds 51-56: Especially the $1.99 two-slices-and-a-pop deal at Little Caesar’s.
Pounds 57-59: Months of testing are completed as I perfect my order at Mickey’s Gyros — “One skirt steak sandwich, one large fries, cup of cheese on the side, order a mozzarella sticks, and an extra-large Dr. Pepper for here.” I eat this at least once a week for twelve years.
Pounds 60-62: Granny’s restaurant, site of Family Sunday Breakfast, puts chocolate éclairs on the menu. As a “side dish.”
Pounds 63-65: Extracurricular obligations force me to eat dinner after nine p.m. on a fairly regular basis. As of this writing, I have not shaken this habit. It is probably radically underestimated as a fat factor.
Pounds 65-68: 24-hour dining establishments discovered. A fourth meal is added to Friday and Saturday.
Pounds 69 & 70: Employment at a summer camp two hours north of home leads to the discovery that a large pizza is a perfect way to pass the drive.
Pounds 71-73: Move-in weekend at Northern Illinois University leads to the discovery of Burritoville, the best greasy filthy cheap-ass late-night drunkfood Mexican restaurant that ever there was.
Pounds 74-79: NIU dorm cafeterias are all-you-can-eat. I am, in retrospect, amazed this didn’t go worse for me. If I’d stayed four years I’d be supersized. Rag-on-a-stick huge.
Pounds 79-81: You know what a “beer nugget” is? A chunk of deep-fried pizza dough. You know how much a big bag of them cost in 1993? Nearly nothing. You know what was a terrible thing to learn? That.
Pounds 82-90: Turns out Burritoville delivers. ’Til 3am.
Pounds 91-100: Pagliai’s Pizza advertised a standing special: “All You Can Eat Pizza & Pop, $3.95″ Pagliai’s no longer exists. I am in no small part responsible.
Pound 101: There’s a restaurant chain in Chicago, Leona’s, that has cheese sticks the size of Twinkies. They’re unbelievably delicious.
Pounds 102 & 103: Dorm suite! Entirely responsible for feeding self. Budget items include frozen pizza, Tater Tots, and lots and lots of Pillsbury canned biscuits.
Pounds 104-106: Discovery of ability to regularly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pound 107: Ben & Jerry’s Mint Cookie Orgy (or whatever it’s called) found in small convenience store forty yards from residential entrance.
Pounds 108-110: Leona’s delivers to Lincoln Park.
Pound 111: Which is the neighborhood where my pastry-chef girlfriend lives.
Pounds 112-114: As does Philly’s Best, which makes subs with garlic bread if you ask them to.
Pounds 115 & 116: Finances improve, allowing for the purchase of real groceries. The quality of the food going in goes up. So does the quanitity.
Pounds 117-121: I purchase the Pitmaster barbecue I mentioned in the last column.
Pound 122: Moved. New neighborhood’s hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint’s specialty? Fried pork chop sandwiches.
Pounds 123-125: Personal pasta sauce recipe and garlic bread construction perfected in same weekend.
Pounds 126-128: Discovery of ability to constantly order, fund, and consume delivered pizza all by myself.
Pounds 129 & 130: Realization strikes that I can eat the family special-occasion breakfast of Pillsbury “Orange Danish Rolls” any damn time I want. I do.
Pounds 131-134: With the addition of fresh garlic, the last piece falls in place for stuffed pizza’s takeover from thin crust in the Pizza Pantheon. Not good. (Pizza perfection: “Stuffed sausage and pepperoni with fresh garlic, well done with extra sauce”. Now appears only on special occasions like birthdays or New Year’s Eve.)
Pounds 135-137: I discover that I can order heretofore-unavailable food components from the Internet.
Pounds 138-140: In a romantic gesture gone horribly awry, I finally perfect the (much-missed) Mashed Potato Club’s formula for mashed potatoes and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s formula for Cajun-style shrimp with bacon and combine them.
Pounds 140-141: Commercial availability of “Heath Bar Crunch” triples, possibly in response to calls from the Big & Tall Industry
Pounds 142-145: During a trip to Paris Las Vegas, I am introduced to real pain au chocolat.
(Postscript: Proofreading this list makes me wonder if this odd sensation, combining pride, awe, nostalgia, and shame, is a tiny taste of what it feels like to be Keith Richards.)