Anyone who has been following my column lo these many centuries at The Minaret knows that every year, I attempt a diet. I tried the Cinnamon Toast Crunch diet, but there were not enough dairy cows in the continental United States to make it worthwhile. I tried a diet consisting solely of foods available in Vaughn Center, but, mysteriously, this led to me steadily gaining weight.
Unlike you young whippersnappers, to us, “Salsa Rico” was the little guy with the suspicious accent who ran the three card monte booth at Ybor City. Healthy food at UT before 2007 was a tantalizing myth, like the existence of Ronald Vaughn; to this day, neither has ever been conclusively proven to be real.
My time at the university is rapidly running out, and it’s no surprise I’m taking my health more seriously. Since my current offers for grad school come from Siberia, the Australian outback, a Serbo-Croatian disputed zone, and an uncharted region of the galaxy known only as “chaotic space,” it’s quite possible that the next university I attend will not have pool and track facilities, or may lack carbon-based life forms altogether. Thus, this might be my only chance to get in shape.
One would think that this is not such a difficult problem. Eat less, exercise more, and results are bound to follow. Esoteric rituals like consuming eight meals no bigger than your kneecap in a single day are for people with much more time to waste.
I’m even willing to skip on a few of the more arcane “essential” vitamins; you know, the ones “experts” claim are absolutely vital to life, notwithstanding that they only be obtained by eating some obscure Amazon rainforest root during a full moon on a Tuesday.
Both diet and exercise would be simple matters, I’m sure, if not for one thing: My body has a mind of its own.
Over the last week I have spent at least one hour on the track per day. Today, without warning, my right foot has decided, “No, we won’t be doing that now.” A shooting pain, apropos of nothing, was my first clue that there might be a problem. Negotiations have quickly broken down.
I am of a particular Cartesian school of thought that asserts, basically, that the reason my body exists is so that my brain has a place to sit. After three and a half years grinding academic organs at UT, I think it’s safe to say that a brain like mine deserves a smooth, luxurious ride.
By contrast, my body is essentially an inanimate object. It makes an excellent coat hanger or doorstop, it’s sometimes convenient to drape something over it that has pockets, but it isn’t supposed to have a vote in what I do, let alone veto power.
It is the hero of socialist labor, I am the bourgeoisie intellectual manipulating things behind the scenes. You get the idea.
My foot says, “No, I don’t think you get it. We’re sitting down now.”
“Now, listen, foot,” I say. “In about eight months it’s more likely than not that I’ll get to go somewhere where – if I’m buff by then – there will be lots of attractive girls who’ll have no idea that I’ve spent the majority of my life shaped like the letter Q. I’m not letting you screw this up for me; you don’t work all that well, and I do have another one just like you.”
But my foot has apparently spread its revolutionary rhetoric to my other limbs. Suddenly, things are chafing in such a way that bits I didn’t even know I had are marching in Red Square, demanding autonomy from my all-powerful mind.
Even my own head, a party stalwart for as long as I can remember, has turned against me, aching and thus spreading the kind of hypochondriac propaganda about poor blood circulation that actually impelled me to start exercising in the first place.
I have been disheartened in previous years, for whatever reason, when I would try to diet, but not this time. This time, it’s personal. I will win the war on my body. Treason will not be tolerated. Either my body will yield to my demands, or I will have no choice but to become a brain in a vat; quite possibly Professor Brain in a Vat, which I’m sure the Philosophy Department would love to have.
I will try to reason with my foot one more time, and then I’ll have to bring in the strikebreakers.
If you see me hopping along the track on one foot, the other raised to about knee level, you’ll know why.