Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

My wife does odd jobs. Very odd jobs. No, not the kind where you pay somebody to come in and repair a light fixture and then mow the lawn. She holds two part-time jobs that are odd, in juxtaposition.

One morning a week, Cookie Jean is paid to lead a Weight Watchers meeting, giving pep talks to people who are trying to lose excess poundage. Two mornings a week she works at a bakery, cooking and selling such stuff as cinnamon rolls, cookies and pies.

The sound of cross-rip is almost deafening. It used to be even louder when she led Weight Watchers meetings two mornings a week, but one session got canceled a few months back because the site was shut down by building owners.

Nowadays, Cookie Jean spends part of Tuesday morning prepping her talk and the rest of it running the Weight Watchers meeting. She also writes a motivational message for her group members that appears on the internet every Monday morning at weightaminute.blogspot.com.

From 6 a.m. to noon Thursdays and Fridays, she works at a small bakery in southeast Portland. She specializes in making bread, but helps out with other goodies and occasionally mans the cash register.

She arrived at these seemingly paradoxical jobs in a relatively logical fashion. She long has been a fan of fine food, and left the newspaper business years ago to attend cooking school. She intended to open a restaurant when she graduated, but learned in the course of her schooling that successful restaurateurs tend to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. With two small children at home, she didn’t want to do that. So after graduating she had another child instead, and did the full-time mom thing.

Three pregnancies, a stint at cooking school and an appreciation of good food had their effects, though, and Cookie Jean put on weight. Eventually she joined Weight Watchers, lost fifty pounds and became a true believer. That led to the gig as group leader. Then, with her kids growing old enough to fend for themselves, she decided she wanted to put her education to work. She took the job in the bakery.

So now she tries to help people lose weight a couple of days a week, and creates ammunition for weight gain two other days. It seems to me sort of like feeding fox chicken two days a week and then assigning it work as a henhouse guard two days a week.

Most of the time, the contradictory roles don’t seem to bother Cookie Jean. They do give her a rather unique perspective, though.

For instance, she marvels at how many gehugeously overweight people shop at the bakery. Why, she wonders, would a 300-pound man buy a dozen cinnamon rolls? He doesn’t need such stuff. My response is always: How do you think he got that way in the first place? I doubt if it was by shopping at vegetable stands.

Cookie Jean often shakes her head over things shoppers say. Some gargantuan woman will waddle in and pick up four pecan rolls, then announce as she pays that she’s buying them for her husband and kids. Cookie Jean knows those rolls will be gone before school is out and/or hubbie’s workshift is over, because she’s an expert on the psychology of weight gain and loss. Sometimes, I think, she feels a bit guilty about not cutting plus-size types off from their carbohydrate supply, but if she did she would be sabotaging her boss’s business. Ah, the irony.

So we beat on, boats against the weight-loss current, born back ceaselessly into the fat.

Monday, May 26, 2003

So the newspaper is profiling local women and talking about their summer fashion choices. When the piece gets around to identifying one 29-year-old’s occupation, it says: “Assistant to the creatives at an ad agency.”

Assistant to the creatives? What the hell does that mean? She hands scissors to guys who cut out paper dolls? Sharpens pencils for women who draw sunsets? Give me a break!

I mean, we all have met a janitor who hands out business cards identifying himself as a sanitary engineer, but that (I assume) is a joke. “Assistant to the creatives” sounds like the deadly serious idea of someone who wants to be perceived as more important than he or she really is.

What would be get if we applied such terminology to places of employment other than an ad agency? Hmmmm . . .

--Assistant to the healthies at a mental health clinic.

--Assistant to the warlikes at the Pentagon.

--Assistant to the contentious at a law office.

--Assistant to the cautious at an insurance agency.

--Assistant to the funereals at a mortuary.

--Assistant to the hungries at a bakery.

--Assistant to the beauties at a beauty shop.

--Assistant to the deflateds at a tire shop.

--Assistant to the reals at a real estate agency.

Ah, the possibilities boggle the mind. Or we could just call someone an ad-agency gopher.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Time for the sagacious Sunday Seven questions.

1) What are you wearing?

Raggedy white t-shirt with logo from the 1995 Jazz Run in Gresham (an 8-kilometer race I competed in back when I was in shape), black Nike sweatpants, black sox leftover from my baseball umpiring days. This is a cool-off outfit donned after I ran a heroic 2.5 miles this morning.

2) What are you reading?

Poets & Writers magazine. I am studying the classified ads to decide where to send a poetry submission.

3) What’s for dinner?

Steak, baked potatoes, salad, rolls and “some kind of dessert,” says my wife. We’re having a neighbor family over.

4) What’s the best thing that happened this week?

My niece Francie graduated from Lewis & Clark College’s law school Saturday, so my wife, youngest son and I attended commencement with scads of relatives and followed up with lunch at Wildwood Restaurant in northwest Portland. A fine time was had by all, especially Francie.

5) What’s bugging you?

My stat league baseball team is in total disarray. My number one pitcher, Tony Armas, just underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. My number one hitter, Sammy Sosa, has been out for almost two weeks after toe surgery. In total, I have five pitchers on the disabled list. My team has dived from best record in the league to third place in its division and fading over the last three weeks. Argh!

6) Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Talking Rock, Georgia

7) What’s it all about, Dave?

Mind over body. My body doesn’t want to exercise, but my mind succeeded in forcing it to this morning.

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