Carb Envy


All hail chlebíčky!

There’s not much to do in departmental meetings. There are charts and discussions and the furrowing of brows and rolled up sleeves. But there’s just not much to do. Most meetings, I have found, usually take place because we haven’t had a meeting in a while and we either want to talk about what we have done, what we haven’t been doing, or what we’re planning to do.

Oh, and in September, the university holds meetings the way Elmer Fudd holds wabbit hunts.

One positive is that there are usually treats and refreshments at these meetings. So if there’s a meeting, we usually stave off our hunger all morning and gorge on cookies, cakes, sausages, or chlebíčky.*

The quality of refreshments and treats is upgraded when we are celebrating a special occasion. Today we are celebrating three name days.** So there are cakes and chlebíčky as far as the starving mid-level academic can see.

And I am in hell.

In my devious plan to stay alive longer, I have given up carbohydrates during the week. So all carbs – beer, pizza, bread – have been relegated to Saturday. Why? Well, perhaps it’s the twenty pounds I put on in four weeks in the U.S. this summer. Maybe it’s the backaches I’m getting from sucking in my gut all day or the headaches from holding my breath to button my pants. Or it could have been when my robe stopped fitting. Yes, my bathrobe. Perhaps it’s that I exhibit no moderation when it comes to carbs; I could happily exist on a diet of sandwiches, potatoes, pizza, and breaded dead things.

At today’s meeting, cakes and cookies float in front of me and platters of chlebíčky and sandwiches overflow with carby goodness on every table. My boss sees that I am not eating and, thinking I have somehow been denied one of the 12,000 sandwiches in the room, puts a plate in front of me.

I feel like a harem eunuch. I go to my happy place (my couch + a Colombo marathon).

Oh and this is far from an isolated incident. Each day has brought a new meeting and each meeting has burst forth with forbidden carby goodness. I desperately try to pay attention to one of the charts, I even furrow my brow at it. And when that fails, I aim for my happy place.

It’s at this meeting today that I have my epiphany. Though, to be fair, it’s possible I am hallucinating from extreme envy. Or I just went too deep into my happy place and ended up in Shangri La.

Are more carbs in my face or is it just that I can’t eat them? A month ago I wouldn’t have noticed the volume of treats, I would have simply stuffed half a dozen cookies and two sandwiches into my gullet without thinking. Is this the way a conscious eater thinks and lives? Perhaps this envy and frustration is my penance to become a more disciplined person. One who doesn’t almost lose consciousness while tying his shoes.

I come out of my happy place and begrudgingly concede the point. Instead of staring at the sandwiches – my drooling is making my colleagues uncomfortable – I plan my dinner. There will be pork chops, salad, peppers, and spinach. There, I feel better.

I’d kill everyone in this room for a pizza bagel.

* A chlebíčky is a Czech snack which involves delicacies on a slice of bread. This is sometimes a softboiled egg, potato salad, crab salad, ham, or cole slaw. If you have never had one, your life is empty and sad.
** Every Czech has a birthday and a name day and every day has a name. For example, Today, September 24th is Jaromir, September 25th is Zlata. It’s the Czechs way of hoisting another day of gifts and cakes.

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