Across The Counter
The Jewelers Pouch
By Martha Williams, El Paso, Texas
Reprinted from July 1990
A jewelry dictionary defines a jeweler’s pouch as a small flannel bag for string jewelry objects. But “pouch” also has another meaning – it’s what my jeweler husband has around his mid-region and refers to as his “table muscle”.
The only exercise R.B. gets is with his eyes, and he hasn’t changed his eating habits in years. Why, he argues, would he have gained even an ounce? He says it’s the cleaner’s fault that his pants look tight on him. They wash his trousers instead of dry-cleaning them, and the shrinking waistline gives the illusion that he is gaining weight when he really isn’t.
After some gentle prodding I persuaded R.B. to read a book on dieting, and it worked out like magic. Several days later he announced his astonishing conclusions: “All you have to do,” he declared with great authority, “is to cut down on the calories and you’ll lose weight every time!”
“Gee, you’re so smart dear,” I said. “Who would have ever guessed?”
So I laid in a supply of diet drinks and non-fattening foods.
R.B. gagged on the diet drinks, emptied the balance of the carton down the drain and read another book.
“Calories don’t mean a thing,” he decided. “It’s carbohydrates that make you fat. Throw away everything in the kitchen, Martha, and don’t buy another morsel of food with carbohydrates.” So I did.
But everything low in carbohydrates seemed to be high in calories. It was a frustrating situation to say the least. I told R.B. to select his own food at the supermarket. He only got as far as the magazine rack, where he bought another book.
One of them said green salads and vegetables were the thing. Within six days his insides were killing him so he went to the doctor.
“No wonder,” the learned physician pointed out, “You’re eating too many raw vegetables which irritates your insides. Cut helpings in half, pay the receptionist $20 on your way out and come back again next Tuesday.”
I’ll tell you a fact. R.B.’s insides weren’t the only thing that was irritated. His disposition was terrible, too.
He would sit and hold his stomach and grumble about being denied Mexican food and beer, which he likes. You see, here in El Paso a man’s virility isn’t measured by how many women he can seduce, but by how many jalapeños and nachos he can devour.
During the next few weeks, R.B. purchased and read more books on dieting and tried all kinds of diets. He nibbled on Melba toast and soup and developed to become more of an authority on carrots than carats. I overhead him tell a customer her ring measured one-and-a-half calories. He explained to another how it is necessary to heat metals to a certain temperature to remove the temper and I was sure hoping R.B.’s temper would be removed when he reached the proper degree because he was boiling most of the time. I reasoned this proper degree might lie just around the corner!
As it happened, I was right. One day last week he returned from the cafeteria all smiles.
“Gee R.B., it’s good to see you smile again! Have you finally accepted your diet?”
“Yes, I have,” he grinned. “I’ve accepted my diet completely. From now on I’m going to eat salad, steak, potatoes and all the trimmings – and pie for dessert.”
“I’ve been reading this book that says it’s your mental attitude that determines whether you gain weight or not. What you eat has nothing to do with it.” “Really dear?” I took out the phone book and thumbed through the yellow pages. Surely there is one dry cleaner who consistently stretches pants rather than shrink them.”