Of course, the weight control company I work for would never have hired me if I hadn’t followed their program and lost my excess weight, which had been clearly visible in my Sponge Bob Square Pants-like shape. By following the program marketed by my future employer, I shed enough poundage to be trained as a leader and receive an employee number.
I must have been ballooning up for close to 30 years before “gluttony” crossed my mind. What finally convinced me I might be more than occasionally splurging was a birthday spent in intensive care at a local hospital to undergo a test so life threatening, I had to sign a form saying I knew this test could kill me, but the doctor says do it or else. Frightened and suffering from a fierce headache, I agreed to exit this life on the date I entered it if fate dealt me those cards. I had the procedure, which resulted in medical bafflement. Eventually the headache subsided, and some doctor suggested I had been suffering from food poisoning.
Food poisoning? Could that be? Well, a few days before dragging myself to the emergency room I remember thanking my son and daughter-in-law for bringing me their leftovers from an intimate dinner at a Clement street restaurant to which I had not been invited. It’s hard to say what was in the carton they deposited on the table in my living room because the room was dark, it was late, and the grease on the food had congealed hours ago, but I ate whatever was in that carton. Immediately, I was violently sick, and a headache ensued. That could have been a brain tumor, couldn’t it? That could be why the hurry to inject dye into my brain.
So in summary, as a result of that gluttony-related scare and finally acknowledging that unflattering photos of me taken over the years weren’t entirely the fault of the photographers, nor were the doctor’s scales spiking toward the high end due to a flaw in the metric system or malicious health care providers, I accepted the fact of my gluttony and turned myself in to weekly meetings, sage advice and healthy weight loss precepts. And so I lost weight and got that job, but, and it’s a big but, was I cured of gluttony?
Happily, absolutely not. And why should I, or anyone, wish to be free from such a delightful capacity for excess, so closely tied to the experience of pleasure? In the words of the venerable Grateful Dead, “Too much of everything is just enough.” And my partner, Corky, who is also a glutton, gave me this Mae West quote, “Too much of a good thing... can be wonderful.”
From the hell and damnation angle, gluttony refers to overindulgence in food and drink, but from a happier perspective, gluttony is hunger for new experiences, for warm and caring contact, for eye-to-eye communion with friendly dogs, for speaking one’s mind, for being heard, for listening, for learning, for weeping through La Boheme or Butterfly for the fourth or fifth time, for reading voraciously, books stacked by the side of the bed. If that sounds like gluttony, then that’s what you call it.
My oldest son, Guy, recently undertook an MBA program online from Wales. Blogging about making this choice in an uncertain economy, he called himself a “glutton for punishment.” But he went on to say that in the process of undertaking new learning, he found he is good at it and thrilled that being caught up in what he is doing is still part of his nature.
It’s not my plan to give up gluttony, but to continue to teach that old habit new tricks, tricks that will serve me better than eating past my point of true delight, what I used to do. I will be a glutton for choices, so if I feel like going to a potluck and nibbling chocolate truffles and sipping shiraz or cabernet rather than slogging through tepid garlicky spaghetti on soggy paper plates or chipping away at the cheese ball elbow to elbow with everyone else, thank you, I will. I’ll be practicing gluttony on my own terms.
So let me conclude with this glutton’s prayer: “Yaaaay life!! Yum, Yum.” Keep it coming. Pour it on. “Ayum.”