by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- There are more policemen around than you=
can shake a (night) stick at. Oh, they're not in uniform -- as a matter o= f fact, they're usually nicely dressed because they're always out to lunch or dinner, often at my table.
They're the "food police." What passes for conversation at table t= urns into an interrogation, albeit with a candle on the table instead of a hot light overhead.
"Do you know they make that sweetener with formaldehyde?" shesaid, eyes wide at my ignorance. I passed it off lightly as I continued stirring= : "So, I'll be embalmed now, die later." The others relaxed at the comedy relief.
"That tomato is okay by itself but if you order it with cottage cheese, then the acid keeps you from absorbing the calcium," or some such. Don't q= uote me. I'm just going with the garble I heard as I tried to shut her out= .
"Now, if you ordered cookedtomatoes, you'd have a rich source of anti= oxidants." I wait for her totell us all about free radicals. I'm losing m= y appetite.
She's not the only food policeman in town but the most aggressive l= ately. It's not easy to eat with someone who not only counts her own calor= ies, fat grams, carbohydrates and fiber, but everyone else's too. I really= think my metabolism is my business and if I understand it correctly, metab= olism is almost as individual as fingerprints.
"You're lactose intolerant," she jabs. "Drink soy milk --you'll get us= ed to it right away."
Now, don't get me wrong. If I wanted advice, I would go to her. S= he's knowledgeable, generous in sharing her no-fat-no-sugar-high protein-hi= gh fiber cookies -- three of them, mind you, add up to 17 calories, and wit= h lowfat milk, only 117. She also looks good, has lost weight on her regim= en and is proud of herself.
Her intentions are good,but they fall on deaf ears if spouted over an expensive lunch designed for a mid-week break from tedium. She has never t= old me anything I didn't already know -- well, except that part about getti= ng used to soy milk. I'd have to try it to believe it, and I won't.
Her counterpart is the "dress police," who reaches toward my throat to make my scarf "perkier." The same scarf may end up in her closet because, truth to tell, I gave birth to this one.
Yes, some of these police are daughters, who believe they have a God-giv= en right todirect the traffic patterns of my life.
"Mom, you're dehydrating. Drink eight full glasses of water a day." O= r, "Mom, get rid of that caffeine habit and drink green tea instead. It's s= o soothing." Does it ever occur to this one that I don't want soothe, I wa= nt pep?
"You're not going to wear yellow with red, are you?", she'll ask-- heavy emphasis on the "not."
"Well, yes, I did plan to. I like it," I say.
"Well, don't go near the Golden Arches," she sneers. "They'llthink you're Ronald McDonald."
Who are these people who think they can police my food, myclothes a= nd my actions, especially when I'm right in the middle of whatthey're citin= g me for? Oh, I guess they're not too different from me,and, really, upon reflection, I recall being guilty of some of theseoffenses, myself. But, I= 've served my time just by living long enough,and I've discovered society's= transgressions are not mine to police.
Poet Robert Burns wrote of what a wonderful gift from God itwould b= e if we could see ourselves as others see us. (To a Louse onSeeing one on a Lady's Bonnet at Church.) We no longer live in that ageof gentility. To= day, we don't need the heavens to open and spill thisknowledge upon us. We have our cops on the beat who specialize in Foodand Nutrition, Diet and Exe= rcise, Behavior Modification and ColorCoordination.
I'd like to see them all put on suspension for behaviorunbecoming a= n officer. And, if I were the judge, I'd hold them all incontempt.