Splurge Or Purge?

The Diet's Gonna Kill Ya, One Way Or Another.

A COUPLE WEEKS ago, a momentous debate was held here in Tucson. The subject matter and intensity of the debate were such that the Arizona Daily Star chose to feature it on the front page the following morning, including a picture of scantily-clad exercise professionals cheering on their favorite debater. (Wait! Since this was the new Arizona Daily Star, they were our neighborhood scantily-clad exercise professionals.)

When Drs. Steven Knope and Dietmar Gann squared off that night, they set out to settle once and for all the Question of the Ages: Would you rather die from eating way too much meat and having your arteries look like those pipes in a Drano commercial, or would you prefer to die from the boredom that comes from eating vegetables every day? It's a tough question, one that makes for a great debate.

Steven Knope, who works at the Tucson Heart Hospital at River and Stone, is one of those guys who allegedly had an ounce of fat on him once, but upon discovering it, promptly ran to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and back, carrying several jugs of water to hand out to any undocumented aliens who might be wandering about. The perfect combination: a humanitarian and a fanatic. Upon his return, the fat was gone and has not since returned.

Knope is either 30 or 50; it's impossible to tell. He's in disgustingly great shape. You just know that when he hears the word "pizza," he thinks of a tilted building. When he's 70, he'll be running in 10Ks and marathons, passing all the 30-year-olds and yelling, "C'mon Buddy, keep it up!" When he's 90, he'll look like they transplanted Walter Brennan's head on Jean-Claude Van Damme's body.

And when he finally dies, he'll be like Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. His eyes will roll back in his head and he'll whisper, "Cheeseburger."

Gann, on the other hand, looks real. And if he's actually been following his own lard-and-grease diet, he looks remarkably good. Best I can tell, his is the diet that helped that Norm guy on Cheers reach 280 pounds, although I'm not quite certain from which direction that number was approached.

Having looked in the mirror a couple days before the debate, I realized that I could stand to lose a few (dozen) pounds. Actually, the tip-off was the fact that I had to stand two mirrors side-by-side to get the full panoramic view. I decided that I would attend the debate, and whichever person was the more impressive, I would immediately embark on that person's diet until I reached my desired goal of the weight at which I played basketball in college, plus the standard allowance of two pounds for each year since my college eligibility ran out. This would put me in the range of, oh, two hundred and something.

I really, really wanted to attend the debate, but as it turned out, I had to go to the staff meeting at which we went over the winners for this year's Best of Tucson. As it happens, I had to make a food choice there, as well. Someone ordered pizzas for the staff to munch on during the meeting, but the four pizzas came with (and I'm not kidding here!) sun-dried tomatoes; cheese; no cheese!!!; and some vegetable concoction that included squash!

First of all, the correct term for cheeseless pizza is BREAD! I'm sure there's some government regulatory agency with whom I could file a complaint. "Hey, these guys are selling bread and sauce without cheese and they're calling it pizza!"

Six months later, I'd get a reply: "Are you sure you didn't just get an order of breadsticks by mistake?"

As for the other thing, NOBODY eats squash, least of all on a pizza. Squash is like cranberries. It's still grown, processed, and served from time to time because it's some kind of tradition, but nobody ever actually eats the stuff. It's usually served alongside meatloaf at the nursing home, so the poor inmates will say things like, "I fought World War II for this?!"

Put squash on my pizza one more time and we're going to have World War III.

I studied the brochures of the two debaters. Knope is veggie all the way. The PETA dorks consider him a god.

Speaking of PETA, did you see where those idiots actually garnered media attention for suggesting that the Green Bay Packers football team, named several decades ago for the meat packers who sponsored the team, should change their name to the Green Bay Pickers?

What kind? Banjo pickers? Fruit pickers? Nose pickers? Gimme a freakin' break. How do you expect anybody to take you seriously when you come up with nonsense like that? For all I know, you have a radical faction in your group that considers fruit picking to be an act of violence against a tree.

Knope is a proponent of consuming massive amounts of green stuff, and I'm not talking about the meat at a Rocky Point restaurant. Vegetables for breakfast, some kind of lawn-tasting blender drink for lunch, and for dinner, you can look at a piece of fish while you eat a salad. As mentioned, this diet works, but really, what good is it to be healthy if your urine smells like broccoli?

Gann goes overboard in the other direction. His balanced meal is apparently bacon with sausage, and since you can't have bread, it's all held together by two pork chops. With all the crap that has made the perilous journey down my esophagus over the years, even I find this diet a bit frightening.

Still, I promised to go with whichever diet "won" the debate. But when I saw the paper the next morning, I learned that the debate had ended in a tie. I celebrated at lunch by having fried chicken and (for my vegetable) French fries. Life is good.

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