Bob came into work the other morning, looking more unhappy than I’d ever seen him before; naturally I asked him why he looked so glum.
“I’ve worked hard all my life,” he began. “You know that as well as anyone. We cut corners and pinched pennies. We managed to raise three kids, giving them whatever support we believed to be important. They all graduated from college and their careers are all off to a good start—a real good start, if I do say so myself.
“For years, it was Burger-Helper, buying used cars that we then kept for ten or twelve years, and foregoing vacations. Neither my wife nor I minded; it was for the family. But after the kids had grown, we sold the house and moved into a brand new home. We designed it ourselves; it was a smaller place ideally suited to a couple. It had a beautiful master bedroom suite. The kitchen was equipped with professional level appliances—larger cooking area, smaller eating area.
“We enjoy cooking gourmet meals together—it gives us a great chance to just chat, so after slicing, dicing, and sautéing together, we’d sit together in the smaller dining area which seemed, well, romantic. Outdoor cooking is just as fantastic. The patio is built around a grilling system complete with mini-refrigerator, wine cooler, and a sink with hot and cold running water. All the things we had given up for so many years, we could now plan on enjoying: a beautifully aged, well-marbled steak accompanied by a lobster, gourmet cheese, a stuffed baked potato, freshly home-baked bread, fine wine, exquisite desserts and for me, with the political climate changing, perhaps even an after dinner Cuban cigar.”
“That all sounds wonderful,” I offered, “so why so sad?”
Bob took a deep breath. “I went in for a ‘routine’ medical visit—the ones I had often tended to skip for financial reasons in the past. The doctor ran all the fancy lab work and such, and then called asked me to stop back in for the results. That worried me of course. Fortunately it wasn’t to tell me I had cancer or whatever.”
“Then what was it?” I asked. At this, Bob sobbed.
“He told me all the years of eating cheap food had taken its toll. Forget the steak and shellfish—too high in cholesterol. The French advise ‘either cheese or dessert.’ My doctor says ‘neither cheese nor dessert.’ Bread and potatoes have too many carbohydrates, and I don’t have to tell you about the lecture I received about starting to smoke at my age.”
“Wow!” I replied. “You must have been devastated!”
“That’s not the worst of it,” Bob replied. “He said, ‘Guys your age all think they should be able to enjoy wine, women, and song. Go easy on the wine. You have a wonderful wife, so it’s woman
women, and, by the way, if you want to keep her—since I’ve heard you sing—I’d suggest you limit your singing to church.”