Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The First Five Decades Are Always the Easiest

This week I celebrate my birthday. It's not a big milestone birthday but I do turn 45. That means I am now halfway to being 90 and a third of the way through my life. Kinda scary.
I've been reminiscing a little this week about the previous five or six decades I have lived through. As part of that I went to the Internet — The Source Of All Truth — to help me remember some of the things that were going on in the world in 1966, the year of my birth.

First of all the president of the United States of America was Lyndon Johnson. For those of you too young to remember Johnson, he was a former Texas representative, senator and a vice president under John Kennedy. His presidency was probably known for two things: the civil rights bill and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Now he is known for leaving behind his namesake for a major DFW area road, a space center near Houston and a sandwich at a subway shop in Austin (try it, it's delicious).

Some other facts from 1966: year end close for the Dow Jones Industrial Average 785, average cost of new house $14,200, average income per year $6,900 and gas was only 32 cents a gallon.

It was a great year — obviously — and a great time to be alive.

I have learned a lot over the past 45 years or so. Here are some of the things I have learned.

1. Twinkies are good — For those of you who don't like Twinkies, please be aware that many people who hate puppies also hate Twinkies. I hope you don't fall in both camps.
I have been a fan of the delicious yellow pastry for many years, in spite of the fact that the cream filling has gone from "oozing" in the 1970s to "puny" since 2000 or so.

Twinkies remind me of my childhood. I can remember going to the store around the corner from my house and buying a package of the spongy goodness that was Twinkies and a can of soda for less than a dollar. That was the breakfast of champions in my life for many years and is probably one of the main reasons I was, as many in the medical community call it, "about the size of the Goodyear Blimp."

I still eat a Twinkie or two every now and then but today I save it for special occasions such as my birthday and whenever Rush Limbaugh says something controversial.

2. Twinkies are bad — As I may or may not have mentioned recently, I grew up eating Twinkies. As a child and young adult, I enough Twinkies to build a small mountain range in Tibet.

As I've gotten older I heard many people say that a poor diet could result in, and I'm paraphrasing here, death. About a year ago, I decided to change my eating habits by getting rid of wheat, sugar, processed foods and the like and replace them with meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and other natural products.

The upside to my new diet? I have lost almost 70 pounds and feel a lot better. The downside to my new diet? I have lost the Twinkie from my diet for the most part.

Oh, how I miss you, dear friend.

3. Most stuff is bad — I know I'm not the only one who reads all these reports about certain things being bad for you. First it was red meat, then coffee, then sugar, then alcohol, then cigarettes, then Bugs Bunny cartoons. Everything is killing us.

The good news is another report will come out soon heralding the benefits of things like red meat, coffee, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes and Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Haha. That's a joke. Obviously, Bugs Bunny cartoons will never be good for us.

As the great philosopher Alan Jackson once said, "Everything I love is killing me. Cigarettes, Jack Daniels and caffeine. And that's the way you're turning out to be. Everything I love, gonna have to give up. 'Cause everything I love is killing me."

4. Most stuff is good — There is a lot of bad stuff out there in the world, but there is plenty more good stuff. I try to focus a lot on the good stuff and I seem to be a lot happier and healthier.

Even though I try to watch what I eat, I know that every now and again, I can indulge in a treat. If you don't watch out I will drink coffee, consume sugar, down some alcohol, and watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I don't usually smoke cigarettes but I might light up a stogie on you (and regret it dearly the next morning when I can smell my own breath on my pillow).

I also enjoy good healthy foods, sunshine, rain, warm weather, the beach, the ocean, puppies and, occasionally, Rush Limbaugh (especially when he makes me laugh by saying something ridiculous).

Eat, drink and be merry, the wise King Solomon once said. "Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun."

I love that King Solomon. I bet he would have loved Twinkies.

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