This past week, I had the opportunity to do a market visit in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. For those not familiar, this is the triangle of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. It also contains a number of other towns such as Cary and Wake Forest (which oddly enough does not house Wake Forest University -- moved to Winston-Salem in the 50's). It is also home to my beloved Alma mater, Duke University.
By complete coincidence, the night I was going to be arriving happened to be the night of the final game of the NCAA Tournament. My Blue Devils had already been summarily blown out in the Sweet 16 vs. Arizona, and UNC met a similar fate one round later to Kentucky. Therefore, any huge rivalry that might otherwise be swirling around Tobacco Road had largely drifted away. Given the less war-like atmosphere, I made the decision to spend the night in Chapel Hill. Why? It's more fun and more college-y than Durham.
I called on an old friend and fraternity brother who now lives in the Chapel Hill area to watch the Butler/UConn game. We decided to watch it at a traditional Chapel Hill college bar, Top of the Hill. I will admit that it was a little surreal for me as a Duke fan to watch UConn (whom I despise) play Butler (whom I gloat over) in a UNC (for whom I have great distaste) bar.
It was a beautiful Spring night in North Carolina. It started harmlessly enough as I found myself happily working through a nice piece of salmon served over cheese grits. It went South (no pun intended) from here as I somehow got lost in a bottomless glass of beer watching the game. After all, here I was with an old college buddy in a college sports bar immersed in hoops. Just like old times.
The next morning I was reminded why it's not a good idea to dive into a bottomless glass of beer -- I had a headache delivered by a rusty ice pick. The only cure for this is exactly the antidote that my local team supplied: that true North Carolina delicacy, pork BBQ. Just like old times, I happily shoved my snout into a plate of pulled pork BBQ (Eastern style), Brunswick stew, baked beans and... hush puppies. Only later did I discover that hush puppies carry the heavy excise tax of 5 PointsPlus values for two. It should go without saying that I had many more than two.
So this is how I gained 40 pounds my freshman year! Doesn't seem so surprising now that I think about it. But it does beg another question. What the heck happened to me in college?
Pre-college, I was a pretty hard working young man. I woke up every morning for about four years to deliver the Washington Post newspaper -- a fact my children will never live down. I studied hard. I lived a clean life, at least until senior year of high school -- and even that was pretty tame.
College came, and I kind of lost my mind. I quickly found myself hanging out with a great group of dudes, and soon joined a fraternity full of goons and degenerates. Next thing I knew I found myself on a close to four year bender of beer and horrifically caloric food. I literally had no self-restraint whatsoever. I turned into Bluto from Animal House, but less funny and less charming.
|So this is why I couldn't get a date in college...|
In many respects, college was the ultimate obesogenic environment. Back in my days of college, the drinking age was 18/19 so acting like a drooling buffoon was a fully accepted practice [this comment inserted in case my kids read this and need to be reminded that the drinking age is now 21]. Every Thursday night we had kegs at the fraternity. In fact, there was pretty much no night of the week other than Sunday that someone wasn't having kegs somewhere. The college itself (yes, an otherwise prestigious academic institution) would regularly allow events where a huge tractor trailer would pull up on campus and tap 40 kegs of beer and supply a band to go with it. There was a reason to go out pretty much every night of the week. Combine the cheap beer landscape with all-you-can-eat cafeterias, BBQ joints, pizza and every other nasty food I can think of, and it is no wonder I burst out of my frame.
|I used to drink these warm. Sad...|
How I ever graduated in one piece remains a mystery to me (and to my parents who watched my transformation in near horror). In the years following college, I was able to resurface the work ethic I had in high school. By the time I went to business school at night, I was a completely different person. Maybe the fact that I had to pay for it myself gave me adequate incentive not to act like a complete idiot.
These days, I am kind of a control freak when it comes to my lifestyle. I sometimes wonder if this is due to my knowing how easily I fell into depravity during my college years. Maybe I'm afraid that if I let my guard down I will find myself slouched in a broken-down Lazy Boy chair, donned in a mustard-stained T-shirt watching TV with beer cans and pizza boxes served on top of a stained carpet. Attractive!
I wonder if everyone else who is tackling or has tackled a weight issue feels that they are constantly on the razor's edge of falling into the abyss of their old, less healthy life. I am much more confident about handling my health than I used to be, but I also worry about gradually getting slack. One little slip leading into another, seemingly unnoticed until they accumulate into a complete reversion. Yikes. Glad I worked out on this fine Saturday morning. That would not have happened in college. I'd still be sleeping.