Chlebíčky Day

There have been a number of language additions since the Coronavirus hit more than a year ago. If someone were to time travel from December 2019 to May of 2021 they would probably not understand half of the conversations being had. They’d wonder what a covidiot was or what the rona is. They’d be baffled by why people were being dubbed anti-maskers and they’d wonder why zoom was all of a sudden an active verb. And let’s be honest, they’d deserve to be a little confused because they chose to time travel 14 months into the future. How boring.

People have talked about gaining “the Corona 15.” This isn’t the first time I’ve been faced with a predicted weight gain of 15 pounds. When I started college, they said I would gain the “freshman 15” and, I’m happy to report, I blew that number out of the water just like I did the Corona 15. I went the extra mile – or didn’t, as logic would present – and put on a Solid Corona 20+ish.

How, you ask? It wasn’t hard. I stopped walking and I started eating lots of comfort food. I kept up a 4X a week workout routine, but it was fighting an uphill battle. Very. Very. Slowly. And in between servings of pate and potato salad. Also, it’s remarkably easy to gain weight without noticing when you don’t wear outside pants for 7 months. In September I put on a pair of khakis, nearly shot out the cat’s eye with the bursting button. A change was needed.

We made a pact in our household. Lunch is two rice cakes with hummus and a slice of tomato, a cheese stick, and fruit. Our weekday dinners are chicken twice, salmon once, lean pork once, and almost every day is accompanied with broccoli or carrots. We sneak in beets and sauerkraut for filler and I have found that after four months of careful eating it’s remarkably easy to fool myself into believing that a pile of beets is a pile of candied pizza rolls. Each night dinner is followed by a low calorie míša bar. Sometimes a small bowl of popcorn with olive oil and a little salt. And then it’s nothing until noon the next day. Saturday is Cheat Day – when we eat whatever we want.

It’s become our own kind of language. We talk about Cheat Day as if it’s a religious holiday. He speak about dinner in half syllabic utterances. Chick and Broc tonight? Míš? Pop? Chicken is spoken about around here as if she’s been bullying our grandmothers.

One can tell what kind of week it has been by how soon before Saturday we begin talking about Cheat Day. Sometimes it’s by Wednesday. In particularly rough weeks it can be by Tuesday. Sometimes we shamelessly discuss next Cheat Day on this Cheat Day, blowing out of the water everything the Buddhists have tried to allow us to learn about being mindful and present. Well to them I say “don’t be a covidiot.”

Perhaps better than Cheat Day is the day before Cheat Day, known and spoken about with love in my house as Chlebíčky Day. If you have never had chlebíčky, they are a Czech delicacy that are sort of an open-faced sandwich. They have potato salad, cream, butter, ham, hardboiled eggs, and, just for the health conscious, a sprig of parsley and a strip of pepper. On Friday morning at about 7 am, I walk up to our local bakery and get six chlebíčky, on rough weeks, I’ll get 8. The woman who runs the bakery reaches for a box as I walk in now and asks “Six or eight?” I think she’s being polite.

Chlebíčky Day is a reward for healthy eating Sunday through Thursday. It’s not only the best day of the week because it’s a day on which I celebrate a week of healthy food by inhaling three open-faced sandwiches with potato salad and ham. It’s also the best day of the week because it’s the day before Cheat Day and therefore we still have Cheat Day to look forward to. It’s the Christmas Eve of food-based personal holidays.

It works too. My weight has dropped significantly since September. I spend most of my week looking at my plate and crying silently, so that’s got to be a victory. But sometimes on those days when I am burrowing through a pile of beets and a piece of chicken, I think to myself: what kind of a covidiot eats this stuff. But then the cat doesn’t have to avoid my flying buttons, so we all win.  

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