Slack Tide: Gut check

Slack Tide: Gut check

More and more lately, the youth of this community has expressed increasing interest in my gut.

My simultaneously most and least favorite quality of elementary school-aged children is their tendency to be unintentionally blunt.

In the past few weeks alone, my two kids and their little parliament of classmates have asked me what happened to my hair, whether I realized I wore the same clothes every day and if I was ever going to get a job. When I said I actually had a job, as a writer, they responded “no, a real job.” So I gave them copies of my curriculum vitae, with clips, but I still don’t think that impressed anyone, even after checking my references.

But more and more lately, the youth of this community has expressed increasing interest in my gut, specifically why it’s bigger than their dads’. And I’m forced to admit the truth: while their dads run long distances or ride up and down mountain roads in spandex body suits for fun, my hobbies include laying on the couch, laying on a reclining chair, laying in bed and working out schematics for the model log cabin I’m building with all the leftover hot dogs from my son’s birthday party. I still can’t decide on the chinking: mustard or Cheez-Whiz?

No secret, Juneau is full of fit people, enjoying a perpetually active lifestyle. To them I wish a heartfelt, Keanu-Reeves-in-the-original-“Point Break”-inflected “Vaya con dios.”

But not everyone who lives here stepped from the pages of a Patagonia catalogue. I suspect I’m not the only one around here who pudges out a little (or a lot) this time of year, especially with Cadbury introducing those new Halloween “Screme” Eggs.

After all, it doesn’t take much. The average human being gains one pound for every extra 3500 calories consumed. That’s not even ¾ of a Costco take-and-bake Meat Lovers pizza. And that doesn’t factor in the grated parm or Ranch dressing. Or the oatmeal stout to wash it all down. No wonder my life-vest is starting to fit me like a sports bra.

For those who struggle with weight — whether it’s five pounds or 50 — life is full of little wake-up calls, and they tend to arrive with the change of seasons. For instance, every autumn you lose the billowy guayaberas and baggy cargo shorts that camouflaged your bulk all summer. Suddenly, you’re forced to sausage yourself into last year’s khakis and throw on a peek-a-boo hoodie that spurs your wife to tell you you’d be great in that old SNL sketch with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley as competing Chippendales dancers.

And while these instances come with a certain amount of shame — it took a whole carton of Tillamook Mudslide to cool the sting of that Chris Farley Chippendales crack — they keep me in check. No pain, no gain. And vice versa.

Personally, I’ve struggled with reverse anorexia my whole life. With me it’s all binge, no purge — I never could get into the purging.

As such, I know all the tricks to convince myself I’m still looking good, no matter how winded I get clipping my toenails. I avoid mirrors, especially from the side. I pose for photos with children climbing all over me. I keep slinging my pants a little lower, a little lower, a little lower… And then, of course, there’s the big crazy guy beard, you know, for contouring.

So, yes, sometimes I need a good ribbing — even if I can no longer see my ribs — to remind myelf that raking the lawn for 15 minutes doesn’t really count as exercise, that Nutella isn’t its own food group and that while I may legitimately have big bones, that’s definitely not a bone hanging over my belt.

Great, I’ve isolated the problem. Now the next step is procrastinating by throwing myself into a different project I’ve deemed equally important, say organizing the garage (yet again) or creating Spotify playlists to suit my many complex moods.

But that’s not a holistic long-term strategy. Ultimately, I’ll eventually take positive action. First will be throwing money at the problem — new sneakers, protein bars, a giant yoga ball. Hell, maybe I’ll even get myself one of those spandex bodysuits. That’s how you know you’re serious, when you’re wearing a spandex bodysuit.

Next, I’ll dust off the treadmill, itself obtained during the money-throwing phase of a battle with reverse anorexia earlier this decade. Then comes the obligatory pledge to start each morning with egg whites and cardio, finish each evening with push-ups and chicken broth, and in between consume nothing but salads, grilled meat and pickles. I’ll issue a household ban on peanut butter. I’ll drink Diet Pepsi by the palette.

Wow. That all sounds awfully effortful. You know, on second thought, maybe I’ll just go eat cake frosting with a spoon.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.


• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.


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