Friday, August 01, 2008

The Virtue of the Five-Second Rule

Lately, it seems like every time I turn on the television, there’s a news report about the grave concern we should all have about childhood obesity. Of course, accompanying those reports are videos of prepubescent boys and girls walking around in less-than-flattering bathing suits and ill-fitted clothing. (Wow, sounds like some old 8mm home movies I’ve seen of our family reunions!) One could take the view that all children are evil and, like vampires, they can’t see themselves in mirrors so this fashion gaffe is excusable. However, that one doesn’t wash because you see these children out in public when the sun is up (usually sitting in a food court at a mall). At this point, you want to yell back at the television reporter something in this vein: “Put childhood obesity aside for a moment, sister! What about this rash of completely moronic, if not insane, behavior displayed by these parents who allow a pudgy girl to walk out of the house wearing a bikini?”

While I’m still waiting on my online degree from Dr. Phil in psychology (three box tops from Raisin Bran and $5.95 for shipping and handling), I’m afraid I’m not qualified to touch on the reasoning/motivation behind this parental behavior. However, having been a pudgy young man at one point in my life (I’ve come full circle back to being a pudgy adult-like man) I feel I am more than qualified to explore the question of obesity. I blame the Olympics!

Before I explain, a little history lesson is in order: in 1785, Antoine Lavoisier put forth the Law of Conservation of Mass, which states “matter is neither created nor destroyed.” Not to be outdone by some Frenchy, the German physician and physicist and co-founder of thermodynamics, Julius Robert von Meyer (he later dropped the “von” because it made his business cards look too “stuffy”), put his own spin on it in 1842 with “energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” (Scientific genius aside, I’m impressed that both of these gentlemen were able to speak English with such facility and proper grammar.) And then in 1907, Al Einstein (“The Steiner” to his friends – I can’t tell you without blushing what his tenth-grade girlfriend called him) wrapped his arms around the whole thing with “the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant.”

With the Olympics upon us, these athletes have been losing weight and trimming down to be at their peak performance levels. Great, but where does all that mass (a kinder word for “fat”) go? Some of you smartypants out there would say it’s converted to energy and burned off. Ha! I didn’t have to go to college and major in something completely unrelated to science or physics to know that’s totally wrong! Look around you: whenever a friend or loved one loses weight, another friend or loved one gains the equal amount – it’s The Law, and you can’t break The Law. These Olympians are shedding the pounds, and that mass is descending on the waistlines and thighs of our children like Paparazi on a C-list celebrity walking out of rehab.

Why have the Olympics? The Cold War wasn’t won because of the West’s dominance in kayaking. The Cuban Missile Crisis wasn’t averted with the shotput. As far as I know, we haven’t found a cure for cancer with beach volleyball. Ironically, we sit around and watch people with freakishly perfect bodies do things that have no practical application. Take the Decathlon, for example: running incredibly fast for certain distances, jumping over obstacles, and throwing odd-shaped objects as far as you can. The only practical application I can find for that would be a life of crime.

If we really wanted to bring the Olympics down to a level of reality, we should have events like “how fast can you put a flyer for the local dentist on 200 windshields without provoking the ire of the car owner” and “escaping the boss’s notice for an entire morning, an entire afternoon, or the whole day” (that one could be broken down into heats, for sure). Other events could be “how much food can be eaten off the floor using the five-second rule” and “talking your way out of a speeding ticket.” Useful stuff, you know.

Oddly enough, the path to becoming a humor columnist never ran parallel to that of a world-class athlete. Hard to believe, I know. With that said, though, many of you may say my lack of understanding the appeal of the Olympics is rooted in my inability to master a pommel horse. That’s fair. But see how long it’ll take a pommel horse to get you to the grocery store to pick up dinner for the family.

1 comment:

Hock said...

You must know that there is no legal justification for getting out of a speeding ticket. The judge's, (or in this case the officer's) score is completely subjective. He may be in a bad mood after having to pick his donuts up off of the floor in under five seconds and those terrible laws of mass and energy have wreaked havoc on his waistline. On the positive side, with a bigger waist he can put more stuff on his belt. Regardless, I think the event should be getting out of the most speeding tickets. At least that score should be weighted higher than artistic impression.