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Live Long and/or Prosper

ChowdownmoiI wanna be Kate Harding when I grow up. She has a real talent for going straight for the throat, clamping her teeth on it, and shaking it hard until it whimpers and gives in. In yesterday's rant about what Shapely Prose refers to as the OBESITY EPIDEMIC OOGA BOOGA, she points out that you know, it's not just bad eating habits, people. It's an entire life style devoted to keeping the ants pacified and soporific. Instead of just offering free fruits and veggies for school children, there's so much more that could be done:

. . . Local, organic produce for all my friends! While you’re at it, bring back gym class and train future phys ed instructors to focus on encouraging the joy of movement instead of forcing everyone to move their bodies in exactly the same way, regardless of any pain (physical and/or emotional) it causes! Subsidize exercise facilities until they’re affordable for everyone! Create more bike paths! Clean up local bodies of water so everyone can swim for free! Build cities on the scale of human bodies instead of cars, and keep the streets safe enough for everyone to walk around! Ban high fructose corn syrup! Keep fast food and soda and junk food corporations out of the schools! Raise the minimum wage and shorten working hours so people have more time to cook and be active! KNOCK YOURSELVES RIGHT THE FUCK OUT creating an environment that makes it easier for everyone to eat a variety of fresh foods and get plenty of exercise!

But no, we have sedentary work that keeps us cooped up for 8-10 hours a day and raises our blood pressure in the getting to and from it while still sitting on our asses. We make synthetic, crappy food cheaper than real food. My favorite part of the this rant is the "raise the minimum wage and shorten working hours so people have more time to cook and be active." But no, our jobs demand more and more of our time, of our lives, and we load our kids up with homework and supervised, closely scheduled after school activities (if you're middle class and above) or unsupervised TV watching (if you're not and have to work long hours or 2 jobs to make ends meet) to keep them out of our hair. There's not much about modern life that makes it at all like the life our bodies were built for, from the artificial food we eat, and its great abundance and high caloric count, to the constant sitting on our asses and need for artificial types of exercise (cuz that's what going to the gym or running is: 100% exercise for its own sake). And then we shame the people whose bodies haven't magically adapted within a few short generations to this major environmental change, completely ignoring the idea of different types of metabolisms.

Which brings me to the excellent post by Sweet Machine, another of Shapely Prose's contributors, who reminded me of why I've been so uncomfortable with the whole fat phobia thing all my life—I mean aside from the self-hate it so often involves: it's the habit that Susan Sontag pointed out we have a habit of associating diseases with moral failures or certain personality types, and of blaming people for their illnesses, for  "not taking care of themselves," for giving themselves diabetes, heart disease, blocked arteries, strokes and, goddammit, dying on us! How the fuck dare they do that! Here's a little news flash, doctors and the people they try to con:

Everybody dies.

So far, nobody has yet survived the rigors of life indefinitely. There's no stopping the process of dying, at least not right now. Nobody has found either the Fountain of Youth or the Cure for Death. He's even coming for poor Terry Pratchett, who's lampooned him so extensively and brilliantly. (Seriously, if you haven't read any Terry Pratchett yet, lucky you to have that to look forward to. Start now.) That must be why he's been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 59: it's Mort's revenge for being made fun of. Death happens. Sickness happens. Accidents happen.

The latest bit of utter stupidity is the new recommendation to put fat kids as young as 8 on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to ward off future heart disease. So they can die of something else, eventually. First of all, if this does not smell like a new money-making scam from the desperate halls of Big Pharma, I don't know what does. Secondly, heart disease is the number one killer in this country, we're often told. And when it's conquered, there will be cancer, the number two culprit, then something else, even if it's only "natural causes," which is medicalese for "we don't know why s/he died." In men, the number three cause is . . . unintentional injury. Good luck with curing that one. First you'll have to get guys to stop drinking beer and saying, "Hey! Watch this!"

So if I am going to die, which is as sure a bet as the sun coming up every 23.9345 hours, I'm going to enjoy whatever time I've got. Naturally, I would like to prolong my current life style for as long as I continue to enjoy it. Eventually, though, I know it's going to be more restricted, less amusing, and more painful. In short, I will get old and feebler. My body will age and fail. And finally it's going to either run beserk in some way (cancer), break down (heart attack or stroke) or just quit like my dad's did, at 86. But in the meanwhile, there's life, which includes good food, beer, books, writing, walking around, looking at and doing art, and not freaking out every time somebody comes up with a new recommendation for prolonging my life.

Carpe Diem and pass the peanut butter, baby.

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