The Eating Season is over.
It started at Halloween with trick-or-treats; swelled up through Thanksgiving and Christmas with turkey and oyster dressing and gumbo and pies and candy canes; and waddled into Mardi Gras with King Cakes and buckets of fried chicken.
So now we hit the reset button. Lent.
In other places, the reset button comes at New Year’s, when people make resolutions. Not here. We got Carnival to eat through.
Pretty soon our stretch pants will be popping like balloons.
But if you got to lose weight, Lent is the time to do it. You don’t got just the scale to answer to. You also got God.
Of course, God is easier to cut deals with. He understands about Sunday not being technically a part of Lent, (so you can eat whatever you gave up) and about St. Pat’s Day (Irish coffee, corn beef and cabbage) and St. Joseph’s Day (any food that ends in ‘i.’)
But even though God understands all that, the scale don’t. So you got to exercise.
Me and the other Gunch ladies talk about this every year on Ash Wednesday, while we sort the Mardi Gras beads to put in Ms. Larda’s attic. (Some day, somebody in the family will throw them in a parade, if Ms. Larda’s ceiling don’t fall in first.)
This year we make a pact. Besides God and the scale, we will have each other to answer to. We will watch each other on our watches.
Each of us dropped enough hints to get a fancy smart watch for Christmas. This may not have been such a great idea. The watch got a emergency button which Ms. Larda pressed by accident and summoned the New Orleans police to her porta-potty on Mardi Gras Day. She don’t want to even TALK about that.
But now my sister-in-law Gloriosa figured out how we can use these watches to brag to each other that we “completed a workout.”
She shows us how to program them so we all get a text when one of us finishes a run or a yoga class or something energetic. Then we are all supposed to text encouraging things to that person. The watch gives us a choice of encouraging things to say, like “Wow,” “Boom,” or even “Shazam!” “Shazam!” is high praise from a watch.
It starts out good. I get shazams for leading my walking tours, which I also get paid for. My other sister-in-law Larva and Gloriosa are shazaming it out of the park. The watch don’t say exactly what they are doing, but they are doing it a lot. Even Ms. Larda gets a shazam a day, probably for walking her dog.
Then one night, I am in bed almost asleep, when my watch on the nightstand dings that Gloriosa has completed a workout. At midnight. I start to send a “shazam,” but my better judgement kicks in. Gloriosa is a happily married woman. Maybe she is particularly happy right now.
I don’t send no shazam.
The next night it happens again. And again the next night. Finally, I call up Larva, and ask what she thinks. She thinks what I think. And she ain’t sending no shazams neither. Some activities are their own reward.
We don’t mention it to Ms. Larda. We hope she is a deep sleeper. There are things a mother don’t need to hear about.
I start leaving my watch in the living room at night.
A week later, we are all at Gloriosa’s for a birthday party. She serves diet ice cream. On Sunday. This must put Larva in a nasty mood, because she ups and says, “Gloriosa, according to my watch, you do a LOT of exercising (cough) late in the day.”
“Well, every night before I go to bed, I run up and down the stairs until I finish burning off that day’s calories. I notice I haven’t gotten no shazams from you,” Gloriosa says.
We don’t know what to say.
Ms. Larda does. “Take off the watch and slip on a negligee. You’ll get better than a shazam,” she says.
The scale and God would understand.