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.)

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ALAN BROUILETTE is a freelance writer of magazine articles, comedy, and scripts. His career peak thus far is his inclusion in the anthology "Best Food Writing 2011." He prefers to writing about food and sports to writing news - which he used to do - and prefers Gonzo journalism to the responsible kind. You can find him, and some of his writing, at brouilette.com.

9 responses to “Indexing Inflation”

  1. Cassie says:

    Memories are flooding back: Friend picking up the “greasylicious cookie” paper plate, holding it to her eye and saying “I see you” because it was so greasy; cheese fries old-way; and 1BigMickey747withalakemichiganforthestayhereplease!

  2. Big says:

    Hail to thee, Fat Person!

  3. Shel says:

    This is a truly lovely tribute to evolving taste buds. Nicely done.

    When I entered my freshman year of high school I weighed 92 lbs. As of this writing, 24 years later, I weigh almost 70 lbs more, nearly doubling my body weight while tripling my age.

    Thanks for encouraging me to look that one up close.

  4. You have to stop saying things like “cheese sticks the size of Twinkies” or I’ll need to leave my chair on some kind of desperate search.

    And watch out because real pain au chocolat can dovetail into real moelleux au chocolat (with crème anglaise).

    An awe-inspiring index. I believe bowing is in order.

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