31 July 2007

Does It Measure Up?

A few people now have razzed me about putting on the pounds since starting to write daily about food. So I went to the mall to find out how much I weigh.

Yeah, I went to the mall to find out how much I weigh. You wanna make something of it?

Truth be told, I do not own a scale. I've always abhorred the idea of owning a scale. I mean, why do people punish themselves like that? Isn't life cruel enough beyond the threshold of your bathroom? Owning a scale is like owning a handgun: you may need it now and again, but chances are more often than not you're gonna end up regretting putting it to use.

So whenever I want to find out how much I weigh, I go to the mall. I find a store that sells scales and I try 'em out. It's sort of like going to a guitar store.

So this weekend I go to the mall to weigh myself and I make a startling discovery. I weigh 197 lbs. And I weigh 189 lbs. And I weigh 193 lbs.


Now, mind you. I'm not standing on some antique twentieth-century spring scale. I'm trying out state-of-the-art digital computer scales with no-slip treads, heated foot-pads, and shock stabilizers. I understand that on the spring scale, I may have to adjust the balance manually before using the scale. I can handle that. The extra work helps me shed a quarter of a pound before setting a foot on the thing.

But on the thermo-ionized-triple-galvanized-heat-seeking digital scale there's nothing to adjust. Which can mean only one thing:

The scale don't work.

Now, really. Are we so vain that we'd prefer living a lie rather than making minor manual adjustments to gain a more accurate picture of reality?

Of course we are. Which is why there were only two of the models which read my weight as 189 pounds and several dozen dusty boxes full of the other scales.

So much for my mall method. Looks like I'm gonna have to run away with a carnival and get my monthly measurements figured by that guy who guesses your age and weight for a buck.

At least if he screws up I'll win a rubber chicken.

Now, the more astute among you will have realized that I've yet to mention anything vaguely related to food. And you would be right. Which brings me to our next paragraph.

This whole faulty scale thing got me thinking about the quality of those digital scales at the deli. I mean, would I really be able to tell the difference between a quarter pound and a half-pound of thin-sliced Muenster cheese without those little LED numbers flashing before my eyes?

I mean what is weight really except something to do with mass and gravity.

And then the big one hit me: the earth's gravitational force varies slightly. According to one Dr. Michael Watkins -- from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment at NASA -- the Earth's gravity varies because the planet is not a perfect sphere. Gravity is really heavy off the coast of India, whereas it's lighter in the South Pacific.

Gravity is a sham.

I guess this all goes to show that it might be worth your while to buy your Muenster cheese from delis located in the lower gravity zones of the South Pacific.

Tahiti, anyone?

Of course, none of this really applies to an East Coaster like me. So, if you find yourself in a similar predicament, I suggest you put your fears of being ripped off at the deli to rest by using this little trick I came upon in my alchemical laboratory: measure your little finger.

That's right. Measure your little finger. Set to memory how many centimeters it is from the tip of your little finger to the inside crease of the first knuckle. Get yourself to a good upstanding deli and have them cut you a half-pound of shaved cheese. Compare the height at said cheese's center to your knuckle.

Never be burned again.

Of course, most of you probably go to decent upstanding butcheries and delis anyway. And even if you don't, you probably don't live in fear of being screwed out of a tenth of a pound of provolone. I wish I were you. But I'm not. Now that I know that gravity ain't all its cracked up to be, I'm a man wary of the world's empty promises.

When I ask for a quarter pound of cheese, that's exactly what I expect to get. And despite the temptation, I'm just not going to move to Tahiti to get a good deal on cheese.

Jeez. I'm out of breath. I think I'm ranting. And I'm not even sure I'm making sense. I'd better stop.

Damn mall scales.

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