Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.13.04


Lard Lad Redux

Somewhere, every second in every state in the union, some fat clown is lumped out in his La-Z-Boy lounger craning his neck so he can see the television around his gargantuan gut.

It takes a brave beluga to put his foot down (even though he can't see his feet) and decide that something must be done.

Different people have different motivations in the battle of the bulge. Take my brother-in-law. No human ever tore the lid off half-gallon tub of Chocolate Almond Hagen Daas with more savagery and determination than Stevie-J.

He may be weak of limb and shallow of mind but his appetites for salty snacks and bourbon is both fierce and formidable. With SJ it was the insensitive jibes from so-called friends that put him over the edge.

Three weeks ago, Stevie-J was collecting his weekly winnings at the golf course clubhouse. He lives in Tennessee, you understand. It is a snowless land full of one-toothed goobers ever ready to pour the harvest money into the pockets of a slippery insurance agents with a single digit handicaps.

"Here's your 70 bucks Lard Lad, don't spend it all on stuffed crust pizza" snarled one competitor with a pinched face. Several other losers chimed in with similar jibes including a nasty reference to Stevie-J as "Jabba the Putt".

This time, however, one watery porcine eyeball sought the source of the insult and defiantly announced: "For your information I intend to drop some weight in the next 6 months."

A chorus of hoots, table thumping and loud haw haws greeted this news.

"Yeah, and George Bush will finally pass his SAT's" spouted one. "So the Limbaugh of the Links is going to a fat farm?" queried another.

"I shall lose 50 pounds in six months" Stevie-J intoned, as ripples of indignation cascaded over his swollen corpus.

Like a Greek chorus populated by vultures the losers screamed "Wanna Bet?" With that one remark operation Blubber Defenestration was born.

"I shall take all bets," said Stevie as he heaved to his feet and sought help from the waitress in retrieving his wallet from his back pocket. When the furor was over Stevie-J had covered $400 worth of bets. Would he end up giving back months of golf winnings in an ill-conceived campaign of weight loss?

Fortunately he sought advice and counsel from his dear brother in law, me.

"I'll take 50 bucks of that action" I heard myself say as a preliminary to the good advice and counsel.

"Done" mumbled Stevie as he snapped off a bite of Ryvita wafer into the phone. Incidentally, Ryvita is a multi-grain compressed rectangular cracker containing few calories, tasting like the shingles on a chicken coop, and favored by dieters and other masochists the world over.

My first question was, "Why 50 lbs.?"

You may remember the 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke," starring Paul Newman.

In it, a jailbird convicted of using a pipe cutter to behead several parking meters, entertains a bet involving the consumption of hardboiled eggs. His buddy, George Kennedy, advised him that the mob would take a bet based on 35 eggs.

"50" says Cool Hand Luke.

"But Why?" pleads George.

"Cuz it's somethin' to do" muses Cool Hand.

I submit to you that the rabble trying to take advantage of my slow-witted, long-driving B-I-L may well live to rue the day that they challenged the fortress of suet. I know he can do it.

Anyone who is able to spend four hours a day on the putting green in the sweltering conditions prevailing in Tennessee can certainly accomplish this difficult albeit not insurmountable task.

"Why then", you dopey scribe, did you jump on the bandwagon? "Why did you risk the C-note on the iron will of this blubber-ridden starveling?"

My friends, the answer is simple. Whenever Stevie-J goes on a diet bender he inevitably loses weight. In the process his waist size may drop from 44 to 34.

What happens to the hangars loaded with full-figured Yves St. Laurent trousers and Banana Republic shirts to which he is partial? My lovely sister Marg bales them up and sends them to me, that's what.

So either way, I win. In fact my own portly thorax will be draped in finery for years to come if Stevie-J wins or even comes close. In the unlikely event that his will melts into a puddle of dismay, I'm fifty bucks ahead of the game.

Be strong, Lard Lad -- Austin is your ally.