Fast Food, Obesity and My Mother

People have asked me how I like our new Dan’s Papers offices on County Road 39 in Southampton. They are much more spacious and new. In recent years in Bridgehampton, we had been operating with 35 or 40 people out of this two-bedroom house. It was difficult. Now, with new projects, with our expanded web presence, with our magazines, event division and with our other new ventures, we just didn’t have room anymore.

This is a huge plus for us. On the other hand there are some minuses. I miss Bridgehampton. I have a longer commute from my home in East Hampton—10 minutes. But these are really just minor inconveniences. The biggest minus for me, towering over all, is fast food. This is a really loopy story, much more complicated than you might think. It involves mild hypochondria, hot fudge sundaes, doctor’s offices, a law in East Hampton Town that turns out not to be there, Southampton Hospital and my childhood.

For starters, I will remind people that County Road 39, better as it is for a business environment, is not Main Street, Bridgehampton. In Bridgehampton, the closest places where we could eat were Bobby Van’s, the Candy Kitchen, Pierre’s and World Pie, institutions all. In Southampton, the closest places to eat are Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds and the 7-Eleven. This is a problem.

When I was a boy in school growing up, my parents would be very proud of me if I won a spelling contest or gave a successful recital on the piano which, as a boy, I studied. After the event, they’d take me to a restaurant where they had hot fudge sundaes. I would be told that was my reward. I was free to modify it—butterscotch sauce for example or make it into a banana split—but I so remember my parents looking at me proudly—as I scarfed down this special treat.

Now the third part of this is how I am taking care of myself healthwise today. Like many people who want to stay on top of things, I see a lot of doctors. I have pains here and I have pains there. The other day I hurt my knee. Banged it into something. Jeremy Lin had a torn meniscus and had to have an operation on his knee. What if I had a torn meniscus? If I don’t attend to it, it will get worse. I could have a limp for the rest of my life. I’ve got to do something about this.

Now I make no apologies for having this attitude toward my body. It surely does swing toward hypochondria, but then again, it gets things done. With some anxiety, I call my orthopedist to make an appointment.

Now here’s the thing. Practically all my doctors have their offices clustered around Southampton Hospital. It makes sense. If they need to go to the hospital to see a patient, there they are.

And here’s another thing. For 20 years or more, it’s been the belief of people in East Hampton that fast food restaurants are verboten in this town. We are an historic town. We want to keep it that way. During my long tenure with this newspaper, I know of several occasions where fast food places have been in the works, but every time they never even get to the point of making an application. They are told of the law and they go away.

Now it turns out that such a law does not exist in this town. A 7-Eleven opened in Montauk last year. Montauk is part of East Hampton Town. The Town emptied their pockets. They looked everywhere. They couldn’t come up with this so-called law.

But this is no never mind. It’s been 20 years that we have not had fast food in East Hampton. And though I am happy for that, it is true that every once in awhile, maybe once a month, I get into some sort of stressful situation, call it a sugar rush if you will, and I get this craving for fast food. I see those golden arches. But they are too far away to get to. So I live without. Which is probably why though I may be a bit pudgy, I do not suffer from the national affliction of obesity.

Now let us, you and I, put this all together and what happens? Well, when I leave my doctor’s office with the good news that my fear of a permanent limp is not going to come about, I feel elation. It was stressful going in to the doctor. Now it is cause for elation coming out. And celebration!

And so it has been that for the last 20 years, every time I have gone to one of my doctors, I have, discovering all my worry was for nothing and all the fast food joints are right at hand, I skip out to my car and drive straight to McDonalds for a Big Mac, French fries, an ice cream sundae and any other thing I can pack in. It’s my reward! A big feast for having dodged the bullet! As a matter of fact I have all this in mind when I leave my house in East Hampton!

Hi, mom. Hi, dad. I DID it!

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