The masses are getting massive

Flash back to 1967. One of the hot movies of that year is The Graduate. Dustin Hoffman, as Benjamin Braddock, has just finished college, and, at a party thrown in his honor, a family friend gives him the memorable career advice, “I just want to say one word to you. … Plastics.” Now, jump forward to the present. The new incarnation of Ben has just graduated, and, at his family’s celebration of the event, a friend of his dad tells him solemnly, “Stapling, Ben. Stomach stapling.”

This just in—a record number of Americans are now pretty doggone tubby. We’ve all seen the sad, grim stories about how our behemothic brothers and sisters have been going around cracking sidewalks, squashing sports cars, buying airplane tickets for each of their buns, and threatening the dangerously low levels of the Federal Corn Chip Reserve. (A possible upside to this trend: Could it be possible to make biodiesel fuel from the leavings in the lard bin at a liposuction clinic?)

The Ever-Widening American Ass; it sounded like a story that could use a little personal research. So, I set myself up at the shopping center at Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street, that one with the World Market, Borders and Good Guys. It was a simple physiological assessment poll, with three categories: OK, overweight and obese. I wasn’t that tough; if a person was on the cusp of a category, I would give him/her the benefit of my benevolence and bestow the better grade.

I hung at that spot for about 40 minutes, which was enough time to rack up exactly 100 female subjects from approximately 6 to 75 years old. Babies were given a free pass. Thirty-two males were scoped out (this study took place in the mid-afternoon of a work day). For les femmes, the final count was 37 OK, 36 getting a little sloppy and 27 well on their way to that motorized shopping cart. Since my sample was 100, this conveniently worked out, percentagewise: 37 percent in good shape, 36 percent already prepped for a long and very hard winter, and 27 percent right in line with national obesity statistics.

The breakout for the men: 18 OK, 9 in the Dunlop Zone (so-called because it “done lops” over the belt), and six Big Ole Boys. With only 33 men/boys to count, the breakdown was 54 percent in decent shape, 27 percent becoming candidates for a cannibal’s calendar, and 18 percent who can no longer make visual contact with their units. Obviously, much better stats for the men than the gals, which means clearly that my sample was horribly flawed.


This week, I’m back on the playa, letting all that built-up orthodoxy blow away on a Black Rock breeze. To the common question of why, why, why go out to this strange place, the best answer I can offer is that going to Burning Man is an excellent way to live for a few days like a non sequitur here on Planet Wal-Mart. That, and Aleta’s Forbidden Tent of Hot Hookahs from Kashmir.