Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 7-18-11
Obesity – the latest health “epidemic” – and one that is progressive and fatal. Yes, the nation’s population is fattening up. The condition is having a serious impact on our economy. Airport seats and public toilets have to be enlarged. Turnstiles have to be reset to allow larger bellies to squeeze past. Stadium bleachers require stouter bracing. What causes this less-than-attractive adipose tissue scourge?
Remember that Alfred Hitchcock tale about Aliens coming to earth and bringing along a book titled “To Serve Mankind?” Nobody could read the contents as it was written in a weird outer space language, but it was generally thought that kindly Aliens wanted to do good for Planet Earth. They proceeded to stop wars, deflect volcano eruptions, defuse hurricanes and tornados – any natural disaster was diverted. Health problems disappeared because the Aliens had the knowledge to cure anything wrong with you – including jug ears.
Everyone and every nation got along; folks had time for recreation, art, music and food. Nobody went hungry. People began to put on weight (much like today’s population is doing). Garments grew tight. One could hear seams splitting as girths expanded. New slang words came into being to describe the fat rolls around bellies, thighs and hips. Plus-size clothing increased to double and triple pluses. Eating contests became weekly State events with finalists going to D.C. to compete in a national contest (usually won by a politician).
The only groups that didn’t acquire excess poundage were cowboys and farmers. To produce the extra food required by a nation of over-eaters meant ag producers had to work even harder. Even if the Aliens fixed all the blown out irrigation ditches, made rattlesnake bites harmless, and every mare, cow, ewe, and sow birthed easily in nice weather, and some milk cows produced chocolate right from the udder – regardless – critters still had to be herded, fields irrigated, fences fixed, hay put up, crops harvested. Stuff had to be spread, hauled, lugged, toted and cussed, of course.
When the Aliens began offering free trips to other planets, people signed on in droves. Space launches became a daily occurrence. Special space wagons were dreamboats of luxury. The rigs had full sized swimming pools, lounges, gourmet restaurants – every snazzy accommodation was provided. The trips became so popular, you had to sign a waiting list.
Cowboys and farmers were always too busy to leave the ranch or farm. The windmill might break; a colt might get hung up in a wire; a coyote or wolf might lunch on lambs or calves.
One day, while Zeke was running the swather, it broke down. Naturally, he sent his wife, Zelda, to town for parts. She grumbled, but while in town decided she’d sign up for a space trip. She vowed that if she couldn’t talk Zeke into going with her, she’d by gum, go on her own.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Zeke, unable to continue swathing, began studying the Alien book “To Serve Mankind.”
Neither Zelda nor Zeke went on a space trip. Not after Zeke deciphered the contents of “To Serve Mankind.” Turned out it was a cookbook. Are we being invaded by aliens?