The United States of Lard

The United States of Lard

by Mark Driver

We are a fat, fucking country. We’re also lazy, complaining, selfish, hypocritical assholes, but today, I’m just gonna focus on the fat part. More than half of Americans are obese. Not just overweight mind you, OBESE, meaning there is so much blubber on your bones, it’s unhealthy. Your lard encrusted heart pumps your greasy blood through tightening arteries and brittle veins. Unsightly fields of poisonous cellulite dot the noxious landscape that is your body. Our chubby children can barely pry their fat engorged bodies out of bed. There are even reports of these little butterballs suffering from adult diabetes, a condition that used to take dozens of years of abuse to manifest. Like a pod of sleepy whales sucking pure lard out of a generically mutilated mother hog covered from snout to tail in teats, we just feed and breed. It doesn’t matter what the fuck we put into our bodies. It can be uranium soaked dog feces sprinkled with live baby tarantulas, tapeworm eggs, cigarette buts and diesel fuel causing impotence, baldness, spontaneous abortion, and premature death – as long as it’s battered, fried, and salted: it’s dinner.

New National Anthem (sung to the tune of anything by N’ Sync)

Suck and sleep,
Mate and eat.
Breed and feed,
Breed and feed.
Don’t lather.
or rinse,
or chew,
just repeat.

How did everyone get so fat? Our grandparents weren’t fat. Most senior citizens aren’t fat (maybe the fat ones die off early). George Washington wasn’t fat. Abe Lincoln wasn’t fat. Ben Franklin was fat, but he made up for it in charm (from what I hear). In random snapshots of history, most people aren’t fat. They didn’t have the luxury of a life where you spent 15 hours a day laying on your back. They didn’t have the luxury of a purely sedentary lifestyle. If they wanted to eat something disgustingly unhealthy, they didn’t have the luxury of waddling over to Wendy’s for a bacon triple cheese burger – they had to make it themselves by scratch. Luxuries have their costs, don’t they fatty?

So are you one of these fat asses? One of these obese, bacon-grease drinking Americans that make up more than half of our population? Do your rotund children roll around on the floor in their own drool, playing video games, suffering from high blood pressure and hemorrhoids because you feed them processed crap and never make them go outside?

It’s easy to stop off at the store or pull up to the drive through window, but if it came down to it, would you be able to provide any of the foods you consume for yourself? Would catching a pig leave you breathless and huffing like a broken bag pipe? Could your short, fat fingers fit around a cow’s udder for milking? Could you even climb into the seat of tractor to dig a trench to seed some corn? Could you pull a stalk of wheat out of the ground? Could you run after a chicken? Can you even run?

I’m not saying this to be deliberately mean, I’m saying it because you fat, lazy, pieces of shit piss me off. What is it, like a third of the world that’s starving to death? In countries worldwide, there are human skeletons with gaping eyes trying to make bread out of tree roots and dust, swollen joints and bloated, empty stomachs. 5′ 3″ and forty pounds. Now that’s a fucking weight problem. Imagine reaction of one of these poor souls watching American late night TV. Picture them, ribs showing through their stained rags, broken teeth jutting out of their shrunken heads, trying to find a place to sit on your fast food wrapper papered couch. You hit “on”, and the TV shows images of fat asses just like yourself, crying with Richard Simmons, saying things like “I just can’t stop myself from eating! Pies! Fried Chicken! Cake! Pizza! Hamburger! I just eat and eat and eat! I can’t stop! And now look at me! I’m fat.” You try to explain to your new, malnourished friend that while there is nothing to eat in his little dusty country, here in America, there is too much food, and no one can stop eating it. And no, we won’t share. $1.99 for everyone.

But wait, I forgot. You don’t have to stop eating. You never have to share. We have things you can do! There are all kinds of treatments for this ‘human frailty’. Get it sucked out with a vacuum cleaner! Cut it off! Get your stomach stapled so you can’t eat as much! Or wait, take a handful of pills that keep you from absorbing your food! That’s right, we can’t expect you to stop putting food in your mouth, so we have to help you at a biological level. Just take a pill, and the fat will pass through your body, undigested. True, it’ll probably end up in your underwear because it causes abdominal cramping, explosive diarrhea, and uncontrollable shitting, but hey, you’re gonna get skinny, right? Millions of walking dead worldwide praying for a crust of bread and you’re medicating yourself to ensure that food leaves your body undigested. God bless America!

Hey, here’s a fucking idea. Why don’t you stop eating until you’re sick, and go for a fucking walk every now and then? Maybe get a hobby that requires something more than typing on a keyboard or adjusting volume by remote control. Try eating an orange instead of a plate of bacon. You don’t need seven different kinds of meat for lunch. Rice is more than just an element of Nacho Cheese Chex mix. Try eating food that actually exists in nature. Realize that Pizza Pockets are polyp inducing chemical sacks, Mountain Dew makes your bones rot, and that if you can eat at McDonalds without developing a stabbing stomach ache afterwards, you may already be beyond help.

Look. The traditional American foods that we learned to eat served a purpose once. Back when you had a farm to work on, you needed to start your day with eggs and sausage and pancakes and toast and bacon and hash browns and biscuits and gravy and grits and orange juice and coffee and waffles and French toast and corn flakes, because you were out threshing wheat and busting your ass until “dinner” (which was actually lunch), when you stuffed your face again and went back out and worked until it got dark. Then you went back inside and had a little snack called supper to get up enough energy to get drunk and beat your wife and kids. Then, after the kids were unconscious, you would complain to your wife that she’d only given you 20 pairs of arms to help on the farm, guilt her into sex with some Bible quotes, pass out 30 seconds later, and wake up the next day to do it all over again.

But now, come on. We work in air-conditioned cubicles. We stand behind cash registers. We make pizzas. We drive busses. We sit behind desks and talk on the phone. We need about 5 calories to accomplish these feats of nothingness. Like an apple for breakfast, a 1/4 of a bagel for dinner and two cups of water in-between. Even most factory jobs are little more than repetitious lever pulling. You can’t eat like a farmer if you’re just pulling a lever all day. You don’t need that energy, so quit eating like you do.

A few years ago, I spent a summer in southern Minnesota, crating up fiberglass and loading it onto trucks. It was 90 degrees and me and this guy Austin were the entire shipping department. We were also the only skinny people in the whole place. Everyone else just pulled levers. I was living on Spaghetti-Os, peanut butter, spinach, and Olde English at the time, not terribly healthy, but I was busting my ass every day, so it didn’t matter. Austin ate a can of corned beef hash with a chunk of Velveeta melted in, spread thick between two pieces of white bread coated in Miracle Whip, half a bag of Doritos, and washed it all down two Cokes. Depending where you grew up this is either entirely offensive or completely normal lunch. But he was still skinny because we spent our shift sweating, lifting, nailing, shoving, kissing – well we didn’t actually kiss, but you get the point. Everyone else at the factory ate equally gross or grosser things as Austin, consuming things like baloney, Vienna sausages, and canned deviled ham that, up until then, had been foods whose eaters were things of mystery. I eventually stopped eating with my co-workers, partly because the smell of their lunches grossed me out, mostly because they made fun of me for reading, for eating “rabbit food” (i.e. anything not comprised 100% of pork by-products), for not smoking, and for not letting them set me up with their divorced 19 year old daughters (“her kids are real nice”) . I moved my lunchroom into my car, sitting out in the dusty parking lot, where I got to see all the fat people coming and going through the factory gates all day long. The workers were huge. Their spouses were huge. Their kids in the back seat were huge. Even the fucking dogs were huge.

And I’m not just picking on the working class fat asses, because most middle class suburban kids are worse. The parents may not be as physically bad off, but Jesus, have you seen some of these kids? Parents have had it beaten into their heads that letting their kids leave the house is unsafe because of drug dealers, serial killers, and blood thirsty third world dictators lurking at the playground, so instead of being somewhere playing a pick-up game of kickball or racing bikes around the cul-de-sac, the brats are tacitly encouraged to park themselves in front of glowing entertainment units and grow as large as sperm whales.

“Timmy, time for soccer practice!”

“I’m too fat to practice! Can I skip Saturday’s game too and just go to the pizza party?”

“OK. Here’s three pints of Ben and Jerry’s in a huge bowl smothered with sausage gravy and a brick of suet.”

“Burp. Hey mom, I made the guy on the snowboarding game do a backflip!”

“Great! I’ll give you an extra sack of buttermilk-fried Doritos and seven boxes of Meat Trio Bagel Bites for that one!”

“Mmm. Burp. Fart. Groan. Get me a Pepsi.”

Nor do I pull myself out of the equation. I was a fat slob from 1997 to 1999 inclusively. I came to Los Angeles weighing 165 pounds, and left it pushing 205, which is scary because even though at 205 I had a gut and looked like shit, it was still within the range (albeit right at the border) of ‘normal healthy’ weight for my height. I could’ve put on 30 more pounds before I would’ve been considered obese. Thus, becoming morbidly obese is not something easily done. You gotta work at it.

What happened? How did I put on 40 pounds in two years? Well at 165, I barely had enough money to feed myself, I lived in a little city in Indiana where I walked everywhere, I was having sex 10 times a week, I went swimming all the time because I didn’t have cash for anything else, I was a strict vegetarian, the only way I could afford to get drunk was to drink a 22oz of regional malt liquor (49 cents at the time!) on an empty stomach. Oh, and I was 22 years old.

Then I hit LA and I had to drive my grandpa’s old car everywhere because everything was so spread out. I started getting paid so I suddenly had money for food and booze. I didn’t have many friends at first and I still couldn’t afford to go out, so I stayed home, drank, ate, and listened to records. My girlfriend was back in Indiana, so there was no real reason to try to keep myself looking good day to day. The nearest food to my house was a gas station, a 7-11, and a burrito stand.

After a while, I started getting paid more, but I was getting bitter too. The city was eating me. With every raise at work came more stupid duties (that’ll be the last time anyone asks me to mediate a message board). I was drinking more and generally not taking care of myself. Grande Breakfast Burrito for breakfast, 7-11 Nachos and a baloney sandwich for lunch, two cans of Spaghetti-O’s, a 40 of Colt, and half a loaf of white bread for dinner. Then I’d go out club hopping with whoever, hitting Norm’s 24 hour Diner (the one on Lincoln in Santa Monica) on the way home, getting an appetizer platter or a chicken fried steak breakfast to soak up some of the alcohol before I went to sleep (it’s always a great idea to eat a full meal at 2:30 in the morning and go to bed directly afterwards). My physical activity was limited to snowboarding 6 or 7 times a season, and about a week of bodyboarding in Santa Monica Bay before I got a horrible skin rash from the raw sewage they pump into the water. Oh, and I ran my mouth a lot. That was it. I got fat and I didn’t care. I ate and drank as much as I possibly could and got no exercise. 205 is the max weight my body can achieve. It’s good to know your limits.

But in the year since moving to Seattle, I’ve dropped about 20 pounds and gotten way healthier. Normal again, I suppose. I get to walk everywhere, I’m not feeling that strange self-destructive angst that makes me think that there’s nothing wrong with sitting down and eating an entire bucket of fried chicken. I’ve figured out that hey, if I eat healthy food, my ass doesn’t break out in zits and I can actually stay awake past 8 at night. I’m not steeping in some inchoate distress anymore. Because that’s what being fat is, a strange way of getting back at yourself for reasons your sub-conscious won’t release. A way to deal with a perceived lack of control and the disrespect you have for yourself for not taking more of a lead in your own life. The need to overload every piece of sensory apparatus in a hope that the hole you’re feeling will somehow get filled, that this tremendous lack in your life will suddenly disappear and there will be reason to move forward and live bravely, purposefully, and with real emotions. TV for our eyes, radio for our ears, food and booze for our mouths, meaningless sex for our loins: it don’t make you any happier (well, maybe the sex makes you a little happier). So fuck it. Throw a bunch of bananas in your backpack and spend your entire day off wandering around your neighborhood. Buy a camera and 10 rolls of film and use your precious Sunday taking pictures of things that inspire you, piss you off, make you laugh, make you sad, make you want to meet some cutie pie to spend the rest of your life with. Be someone that people have to deal with, not some passive punching bag who just sits in a corner getting gradually larger, and taking up more ineffectual space. Realize the inner strength that – fuck, I’m starting to sound like an infomercial. I’m just saying that in this world, dynamic people are in great demand, footstools and sheep clutter the landscape. It’s a quick, tough place we’re in and fat people can’t run very fast or very far. Fat people don’t drown, but they can’t swim either. Drop the gyro fatty, grab an apple.

I suppose that I should encourage everyone to keep getting fat. It makes me look that much better. It makes me seem faster. I’ll get wiser by living longer. Fat fingers can’t pull handgun triggers. Our fat population would be unable to fight conventional wars (although we’d go to Defcon 1 every time there was a shortage in Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies). Fat people go to church and pay their taxes. I can sell them lots of food, and oils as well. I could fashion the Mark Driver Lime and Tequila Diet, and have my first (and only) bestselling book. I could transform old cargo planes into Lardo Airlines where the seats are all triple-wide, the buffet is always open, and our motto is “Smile, tubby! Your fat ass is on vacation!” Think of it: fat trains, extra fat mattresses, vending machines selling pails of French fries, gas powered stomach pumpers, newspapers with rubber handles, self cooking sausage, his n’ hers deep fryers, mail order onion rings, ranch dressing transfusions, 40-piece individual chicken dinner, a smaller car to drive from your front door to your real car, extra large crematoriums, groan activated remote control TV, a fart powered dishwasher, diesel toilet equipped with a garbage disposal, reinforced moving sidewalks where you can just lay there and get moved to the restaurants all over town …….

But I want to help, really.

So what do we do about all this? I think people have become too far removed from the foods they eat. I say we enact a new law, and it goes like this: If you can’t produce it, you can’t eat it. You can’t enjoy a steak until you go to a government licensing station and kill a cow in front of federal agents. Then you get a little cow picture stamped on your Eating ID card. Want some chicken? Here’s a knife and a tub to drain the blood into. You want some nachos? Well, sign up for the 3 week course that takes you through salt mining, corn husking, lard rendering as well as the synthesizing of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, and the National Endowment for the Arts has allowed for nice, uncontroversial artists to teach you about Artificial Color. Oh, you want a Pizza Pocket? Due to the offensive amount of ingredients, that’s a 4 year course available only at the Toledo branch, but the waiting list is quite short, actually. What’s that? You’re just going to stick to green beans and tomatoes? Great. Our records show you are already capable, you just need to lose enough weight to actually bend over and touch the ground.

Of course, this will do much to destroy the years this country has spent developing industries of specialization that make sure we never have to dirty our hands, but with 99.9% of all people specializing in little more than shoving handfuls of gooey cheese and fried meat into their morbidly obese bodies, I think a little revolution is in order, don’t you? Our children will thank us.