Oh say, can you see?
A poll I saw said 90 percent of all Americans think that their fellow Americans are fat, but only 39 percent of those people polled think that they are overweight. Clearly the math doesn’t add up.
If we can’t agree that Americans are fat perhaps we can agree that we are putting on pounds at an accelerating rate. In 1940 the average American weighed 140 pounds. In 1965 the average male between 20 and 74 years old weighed 166 pounds but by the year 2002 that same demographic tipped the scales at 190 pounds! And it’s not just the men that have been packing on the fat like a feedlot steer. The women in this country during the same period actually gained more as a percentage of their starting weight, going from 140 pounds to 164 pounds.
There have been many repercussions as a result of our porking out: people can now purchase extra wide toilet seats and reinforced beds. We wear “relaxed fit” jeans, women’s clothing sizes have all been changed to account for “size inflation” and men are wearing pants with pleats, for heaven’s sakes! Doorways are being made wider, MRI machines have been bulked up and diabetes has exploded, right along with America’s expanding waistline. Many doctors are now specializing in obesity, only now it’s called “bariatric care” so it won’t offend any fat people and so insurance will pay for it.
Pick up any general popular magazine and you are bound to find articles on weight loss and how to tell if you are too fat or are just too short for your weight. I recently discovered another method for cowboys and cowgirls to determine if they are overweight. I call my system, “Can You Read Your Own Belt Buckle?” And I’m not talking about when your jeans are hanging from a hook or are draped over a chair.
I was talking to two men, one, a full-figured team roper and the other an ex-bull rider who was now carrying enough ballast that no bull in the land could dislodge him. The bull rider in his youth had been the model of fitness but with all the injuries he sustained over his career he was now unable to exercise (or even bend over and put on his own socks) so he’d ballooned to the point that his personal land mass exceeded that of many small countries. I am told that when he stepped on the tail of his beloved dog it immediately died. On the other hand, the team roper had been born with the fat gene. He was so large as a boy that he was baptized in a dipping vat and every time he gets off his horse these days I swear you can hear the nag issue a deep sigh of relief.
The two obese cowboys were talking about a prestigious rodeo when they discovered that during their great careers both men had won their event there.
“What year did you win it?” the bull rider asked.
“I can’t recall the year,” said the team roper. “Oh, wait a minute, I’m wearing the buckle I won there!” He reached down to find his buckle beneath his muffin-shaped belly that was overflowing the sides of its container. After a few moments of intense searching he located his buckle and tilted it upwards so that he might read the date on it. Rather than admit the buckle was still covered up he made an excuse. “My eyes are getting so bad I can’t read it. Can you see it?” he asked of his bull riding buddy.
“Let me see?” The bull rider backed up about five paces, got down on his knees and looked upwards in hopes that he might catch a glimpse of the buckle buried beneath the blubber. “I think it says 1972 but the friction caused by rubbing up against your belly for 35 years has caused the gold lettering on your buckle to be worn smooth.”
“Oh wait a minute,” recalled the team roper. “I have a picture of me with the championship saddle when I won that rodeo and it has the year on it. The photo is in my wallet. Can you reach into my back pocket and get it for me?”
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A strong windstorm blew through Garfield County, Nebraska, the afternoon of May 12, bringing damage to the rodeo grounds in Burwell, the home of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo.