Andy Rooney_ 60 Years Of Wisdom And Wit Part 14

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Each of our Upside-Down Diet meals will start with a bowl of ice cream or a chocolate eclair. Follow this with a small fish dish or oysters, clams or shrimp with a chocolate sauce. This will have the effect of raising your blood sugar level abruptly, and by the time the main course of oatmeal, corn flakes or Fruit Loops with b.u.t.termilk comes, you may not want any at all.

I don't want to be greedy, but after the book is published I have high hopes that it will be made into a movie.

Thin for Christmas I'd buy a new suit if I wasn't about to lose weight. There's no sense buying a new suit and then having it hang on me after I've lost twenty pounds. That's about what I'll probably lose, twenty pounds.

Unlike some people, I know how to lose weight. I'm not going in for any crazy diets. I weigh too much because I eat too much. It's that simple. I'm not going to count calories or watch carbohydrates, fats and proteins. I'm just going to cut down on food.

It's time I did something. All my shoes seem a little short and not as wide as they were when I bought them and I think it's because I have more weight on my feet. The extra weight makes my feet longer and wider.

The only thing I'm going to cut out completely is ice cream. I may have a dish of ice cream after dinner tonight but after that, that's it. No more ice cream until I drop twenty pounds. Or bread. I know who makes the best loaf of bread in America and I eat too much of it. No more bread, either.

Another thing I'll do is cut out second helpings. When I'm asked if I want more, I'll be strong. "Couldn't eat another bite," I'll say.

It's the middle of December. The average person would probably wait until after Christmas to start losing weight but not me. Those people don't have any strength of character. I'm going to start right now . . . tomorrow, probably.

I read that it's a good idea to drink a gla.s.s of water before a meal, so I'll start doing that. Maybe I'll drink several gla.s.ses because I want to drop off some weight in a hurry. The kids will all be home for Christ Thin for Christmas 213 213 [image]In his Hacker boat, on Lake George mas and I don't want to hear them saying, "Boy, Dad, you've really put on some weight since summer."

What made me decide to lose all this weight I'm going to take off, beginning tomorrow, is that for the second day in a row I popped the top b.u.t.ton on my pants, the one right above the zipper. It might be that I just happened to get two bad b.u.t.tons but I don't think so. Anyway, I'm not taking any chances. I'm going to make it easier on the pants.

For the past few months I've been wearing wider ties because my suit jackets don't come together and b.u.t.ton the way they used to. The wide tie helps fill the gap so that people don't see a big expanse of shirt in front. Thank goodness I'll be able to go back to wearing thin ties again pretty soon.

It's going to seem funny being as thin as I plan to get. Some people probably won't even recognize me, I'll be so thin.

"You look great, Andy," everyone will be saying.

The least I ever weighed after I got out of college was 183 pounds. The most I ever weighed was yesterday when I hit 221 without even my socks on. I don't develop a great paunch that sticks out, I gain weight all over. Even my ears are heavier.

It's easy to see why a lot of people aren't as successful at losing weight as I'm going to be. They go for some crazy scheme that doesn't work. Not me. I'm going to do it the old-fashioned way and simply cut down on everything. After I've lost twenty pounds, I may write a book about it.

Come to think of it, later today I may call my publisher and ask if they'd be interested in a book about my weight loss. How I Lost 20 Pounds in 20 Days, How I Lost 20 Pounds in 20 Days, I may call it. That would be a good t.i.tle, give or take a few days. I may call it. That would be a good t.i.tle, give or take a few days.

It might even be a good idea if I started a diary the same day I start losing weight. Maybe I'll start the diary tomorrow, too, then I'll have the book done at the same time I'm twenty pounds lighter.

Of course, I don't want to get too thin. I don't want to look drawn. Doctors advise against going up and down too fast, so I don't want to overdo it. Maybe I'll have an occasional dish of ice cream. It might be better if I didn't try to get too thin too soon. If I lose weight gradually, it might be a good idea if I didn't start the book right away, either. I wouldn't want to finish the book before I'm finished losing weight.

The Urge to Eat No number of books or magazine articles detailing the kind or amount of food I should eat to lose weight will ever convince me that I'm not a person who is just naturally overweight.

I don't have a potbelly or great globs of fat hanging from me anywhere in particular. I'm just overweight. There's too much of me everywhere. Right now I'm up around 210. That may not sound bad but I'm not six foot three.

No one has ever been able to prove the extent to which we can alter the course of our lives by resolve. Nine times a year I promise myself to The Urge to Eat 215 215 lose weight, but at the end of the year the chances are I'm going to weigh more or less what I weighed when the year started. That's if I'm lucky.

Years ago I remember thinking I had found the answer. I had read a good book by a doctor who taught at Harvard and he convinced me that the problem of weight was a simple one. You are fat for just one reason. You take in more calories than you burn. The doctor conceded that some people burn calories faster than others and that differences in our rates of metabolism make it harder for some to lose weight than others. The fact remains, though, he wrote, that if you weigh too much, it's because you eat too much. There are a few medical exceptions to the rule but they don't involve enough people to be worth talking about.

What the doctor didn't talk about, because he was a nutritionist and not a psychiatrist, was some faulty wiring in my brain and the brains of a lot of overweight people that affects the appet.i.te. My appet.i.te keeps me going back for more long after I've had all the food I ought to consume. Food keeps tasting good so I want more and am unable to control my urge to take it.

I hate to be in a room with cigarette smokers but I'm sympathetic to them. I've never smoked cigarettes but I understand how difficult it must be to give them up. If I can't give up ice cream, I've got no business feeling superior to someone who can't stop smoking.

There have been periods in my life when I've lost weight. I can overcome my urge to eat for short, intense periods when I devote practically my whole life to trying not to, but it doesn't last. Overeating is as much a part of my personality as blue eyes and wide feet. I can no more keep from eating too much over a period of years than I can change the Irish look of my face.

When I look at those weight charts in a doctor's office, I laugh. According to them I ought to weigh 145 pounds. They'd have me lose a third of what I am. I'll get down to 145 pounds the day the doctor starts making house calls for ten dollars a visit.

Many things about overeating are too depressing to contemplate. b.u.t.ter is certainly one of the purest, most delicious foods ever made. It's made with such a wholesome and natural collaboration between man and cow, too. It seems unfair to farmers who have so much of it, and to good cooks who love to use so much of it, that b.u.t.ter should be high on the list of things we shouldn't eat.

Years ago I learned that bourbon was fattening. All alcoholic beverages are high in calories. It seemed incredible to me that two things as different as b.u.t.ter and bourbon could produce the same deleterious effect on the system. I recall wondering whether the fat produced on my frame by bourbon would look any better or worse than that produced by b.u.t.ter.

Everything about being fat seems so unfair.

Sodium-Restricted Diet Last week I went to my doctor for my annual physical.

Things are looking up for me. My weight is up, my cholesterol is up and my blood pressure is up.

My doctor is also my friend and he was fairly insistent that I lose weight.

As I was leaving, he handed me these two brochures. This one, from the American Heart a.s.sociation, is called SODIUM-RESTRICTED SODIUM-RESTRICTED DIET and the other was put out by the Morton Salt Company. With due respect to my doctor, let me say in the nicest way I know and the other was put out by the Morton Salt Company. With due respect to my doctor, let me say in the nicest way I know how-these pamphlets are ridiculous. If you're going to help someone with a diet, you don't tell them how much salt there is in one ounce of Animal Crackers, 5 5/6th of an ounce of Shredded Wheat or in half a bouillon cube. Its been years since I had half a bouillon cube for dinner.

If you followed the advice in this booklet, you'd be eating off a scale. I'm suspicious of the Morton Salt pamphlet too. If their business is selling salt, are they really going to help someone use less of it?

Sodium-Restricted Diet 217 217 And they keep calling salt "sodium." Salt and sodium are the same thing . . . why do they try to make it sound more important by calling it sodium? You don't notice them calling it the Morton Sodium Company.

They list the sodium content of strawberries. Half a cup of strawberries has one milligram. The average person doesn't have any idea what a milligram is and I am an average person.

And how do you measure half a cup of strawberries? Here's the half cup mark . . . do I mash them down, Morton?

I like salt. I'm the kind of person who puts salt on his sodium. If I followed the advice of Morton and the American Heart a.s.sociation, there wouldn't be much I could eat. And if I do take their advice, don't expect to be seeing as much of me in the future because there won't be as much of me to see.

The American Heart a.s.sociation keeps telling me to see my doctor before I do anything.

"Do not use any salt subst.i.tute that your doctor has not recommended. The important thing is to keep in touch with your physician . . . "

Why is the American Heart a.s.sociation trying to get in good with doctors? Or are they doctors?

My doctor is busy. He doesn't want me hanging around asking if its all right to eat 200 milligrams of low-sodium dietetic peanut b.u.t.ter. He's so busy I'll bet he never even read the pamphlet before he gave it to me to read or he'd never have given it to me.

Caviar is on their list of things that are bad for you. Eleven hundred dollars a pound would make anyone sick.

I must admit, there are a couple of surprises in here.

Listen to this: "You may use carrots and celery sparingly to season a dish-one stalk of celery to a pot of stew."

The other day at a party I ate two stalks of celery so, if I'm not on next week because I dropped dead, you'll know it was that second stalk of celery that did me in.

On People and Places Thanks, Pal Ernie Pyle, who wrote the book Brave Men, Brave Men, was the best kind of brave man I ever knew. He didn't have the thoughtless, macho kind of bravado that is sometimes mistaken for bravery. He was a war correspondent who was afraid of being killed but did what he had to do in spite of it. was the best kind of brave man I ever knew. He didn't have the thoughtless, macho kind of bravado that is sometimes mistaken for bravery. He was a war correspondent who was afraid of being killed but did what he had to do in spite of it.

Mostly, Ernie stayed right with the infantrymen who were doing the fighting and the dying. On the scrubby little island of Ie Shima, Ernie was moving up with the infantry when he was shot dead by a j.a.panese machine gunner forty years ago.

Almost everyone has heard of Ernie Pyle but in case you don't know why he was so widely read and so much loved, I thought I'd offer a little toast to the memory of this gentle, talented little man by telling you.

Unlike most correspondents, Ernie never offered any opinion about who was winning or losing the war. He just told little stories about the men fighting it. He drew vignettes with two fingers on his typewriter keys that told more about the victories and defeats of World War II than all the official communiques ever issued.

I have an Ernie Pyle kind of story about Ernie Pyle. One day sometime in July of 1944, I was sharing a tent with Ernie and two other reporters in Normandy. Ernie had decided not to go to the front that day, and he was lying on his cot when I came in and sat down on mine. I took off my boots, preparing to lie down for a while when I was divebombed by an angry bee.

My cot was almost directly over a hole in the ground that the bees were using as a nest. There must have been hundreds of them down there and, because it was impractical to move either my cot or the tent, I scuffed dirt over the hole so they couldn't get in or out.

The two of us lay on our cots, watching an occasional bee come into the tent looking for home. I started thinking about the bees trapped underneath the dirt.

Thanks, Pal 219 219 [image]Ernie Pyle We watched, silently, for perhaps two minutes. Ernie broke the silence.

"Aw, Andy," he said, "why don't you let 'em out?"

Ernie never seemed to be in much of a hurry. He didn't rush to the scene of some particular bit of action with the other reporters. He made his own stories with little things others of us hardly noticed. His stories about soldiers were as apt to be about loneliness or boredom as about blood and danger.

Ernie never seemed to be interviewing anyone, either. It was more as though he were talking to the soldiers as a friend. You only realized he was working when he took out his notebook and meticulously wrote down the name and full address of every soldier near him. An infantryman could be telling Ernie a story about how his squad of eight guys wiped out a German machine-gun nest but Ernie would be as interested in getting all the names and addresses of the eight men as he was in the details of the action.

"Whereabouts in Wheeling, West Virginia?" he'd ask.

Ernie started covering the war in North Africa, and even though he didn't deal in The Big Picture, he knew North Africa was only the beginning.

"This is our war," he wrote, "and we will carry it with us as we go from one battleground to another until it is all over, leaving some of us behind on every beach, in every field. We are just beginning with the ones who lie back of us here in Tunisia. I don't know whether it was their good fortune or their misfortune to get out of it so early in the game. I guess it doesn't make any difference once a man is gone. Medals and speeches and victories are nothing anymore. They died and the others lived and no one knows why it is so. When we leave here for the next sh.o.r.e, there is nothing we can do for the ones underneath the wooden crosses here, except perhaps pause and murmur, 'Thanks, pal.'"

Ernie Pyle gave war correspondents a reputation not all of them deserved. All that those of us who shared that reputation can do for Ernie now is to say, "Thanks, pal."

Frank Sinatra, Boy and Man There was a small Italian bakery on Mott Street in New York City called Parisi's. Joe Parisi made his bread in two ovens on the back wall of his bas.e.m.e.nt and I liked it so much that I'd often drive downtown to buy three or four loaves even though it meant an extra half hour getting home. I didn't know whether anyone else liked Joe Parisi's bread or not but I found out in a most interesting way.

Frank Sinatra, Boy and Man 221 221 Twenty-five years ago, I flew to Palm Springs with Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt, the producer, to write an hour special about Frank Sinatra on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. I got thinking about the experience on his seventy-fifth.

We made a mess of Frank's house by rearranging the furniture and laying wires for lights all over the place, but he opened the house to us and was a gracious host.

The second day we were there he invited several of us to sit down and have lunch with him. The meal was prepared by an employee of Frank's who seemed to do everything for him-keep the house, take care of his clothes, and cook his meals.

We were having a good time talking and Frank pa.s.sed a basket of crusty bread my way. I took a piece, looked at it suspiciously, took a bite and sat back, astonished.

"You okay?" he said.

"Where did you get this?" I asked. "I know this. This is Joe Parisi bread. He makes it in his bas.e.m.e.nt on Mott Street two thousand miles from here."

"We have it flown in every week," Frank said. "Great bread."

I've been soft on Frank ever since that day I discovered he had such good taste in bread. Now, twenty-five years later, there's no one I like to hear sing a song as much as I like to hear Sinatra.

When I was young, I was cool toward him and his music and much put off by the crowds of young girls who made fools of themselves in his audience. To me, Sinatra was an awkward, gawky-looking jerk without much of a voice and no charm at all. Those fans my age were indistinguishable from the young people who, generations later, fawned over Elvis Presley.

Sinatra has made about thirty-five movies and even won an Oscar for his performance in From Here to Eternity, From Here to Eternity, but everything he does besides singing is a sideline. He's great to see in person but it isn't necessary and that accounts for the phenomenal success of his records. but everything he does besides singing is a sideline. He's great to see in person but it isn't necessary and that accounts for the phenomenal success of his records.

We went to a recording session of his while we were doing that show and I was surprised at how serious a musician he is. During the session, Sinatra got d.i.c.kering with the orchestra leader about whether the note should be an F-sharp or an F-natural. I had always a.s.sumed the words just fell from his mouth in a random a.s.sortment of notes.

It's not just his voice or his knowledge of music that makes Sinatra sound so good, either. People who understand music hear sounds from Sinatra that no one else makes. And it all happened to him, you know it did, as he sings.

It's apparent to anyone listening to Sinatra that he enjoys his work. A performer's pleasure in his own performance is communicated to his audience and no one enjoys himself when he's singing more than Frank Sinatra.

The rap on Sinatra has always been his personal life. You can complain about the life he's lived, but he has an appealing enthusiasm for it that's part of his charm.

There are strange things going on in our brains that cannot be measured by numbers or described in words. It's impossible to say why a poem is good, or why a piece of music, a novel, or a movie is great. You can't apply reason in judging a picture painted by Pica.s.so and come up with an answer that explains its greatness.

No amount of thinking about it can produce an answer to why so many people enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra. Genius is unfathomable . . . but whatever it is, Frank has it.

E. B. White (On the occasion of the death of E. B. White) E. B. White may have written the English language more gracefully than any American who ever lived.

Each of us wants everyone else to know what we know, to like what we like. E. B. White was my literary hero, so give me this. Andy-he was known as Andy to his friends-was not as widely known as those E. B. White 223 223 movie stars, or even as well-known as a lot of writers who aren't as good as he was. Seems terribly wrong, but I'm probably better known than he was. As the phrase goes in the newspaper business, I couldn't carry his typewriter.

It was partly Andy White's own fault, although "fault" isn't the right word. He wanted no part of celebrity. All the people he cared about already knew how good he was, and that's all that mattered to him. He didn't care whether his picture was ever taken, and he refused to be interviewed for television.

Several times over the past twenty years, I told him he owed it to the world to submit to an interview on camera so everyone would know what he looked like and how he was. He just laughed. He said that people would be disappointed because he didn't talk as well as he wrote, and they'd think he was a fake.

For the past few years Andy has been ill with all the things that can go wrong with an eighty-six-year-old body, and he'd lost interest, too, after his wife died eight years ago. "Life without Katharine," he said, "is no good for me."

I talked to a mutual friend who had seen him only last week. He said Andy's eyesight was failing and the thing he most liked was to be read to from one of his own books. Strange, in a way, but I suppose for a writer it was like looking at old photographs of yourself when things were good.

I got to know Andy White when I adapted this little masterpiece of his called Here is New York Here is New York for television, years ago. When we were finished, we were nervous about showing it to him, but he liked it. He had only one complaint: the director filmed the actor, playing the part of E. B. White as a young writer, lying on a bed in the Algonquin Hotel with his shoes on. Andy told us he'd never lie on a bed with his shoes on. His prose is like that, too. for television, years ago. When we were finished, we were nervous about showing it to him, but he liked it. He had only one complaint: the director filmed the actor, playing the part of E. B. White as a young writer, lying on a bed in the Algonquin Hotel with his shoes on. Andy told us he'd never lie on a bed with his shoes on. His prose is like that, too.

Heroes are hard to find. He's been my hero for fifty years. Life without E. B. White is not as good as it was for me.

Lonnie Lonnie is an inst.i.tution in the building where I do a lot of my work. He shines shoes but that's only a small part of what he does. The best thing Lonnie does is keep everyone's spirits up.

The other day I had a good talk with Lonnie while he fussed over making my shoes look better. We settled some world problems and straightened out our own company. As I climbed down off the chair Lonnie has mounted on a platform so he doesn't have to bend over much, I said, as you'd say lightly to a friend, "Thanks, Lonnie, you're a good man."

"Well," Lonnie said philosophically, "we're all supposed to try and make things better, aren't we?"

That's what Lonnie does in the small piece of the world he has carved out for himself. He makes things better. He makes everyone he meets feel better and he makes their shoes look better. If all of us did as much, it would be a better world. He not only does his job but he throws in a little extra.

Lonnie is black, gray-haired and lame. I've been guessing that he's about seventy years old. His left foot is in a shoe with a four-inch lift on it and he doesn't use his left leg much. When he walks, he lifts it off the floor from the hip and swings it forward. It doesn't seem to be able to move by itself. He parks his car, a car with special controls for the handicapped, in front of the building and it's a tough job for him to make his way inside. Still, Lonnie is strong, with muscular arms and shoulders.

He has a good-looking face with prominent bones. He gets to work about 7:30 a.m. and leaves, to avoid the traffic, about 4:00 p.m. In between, he shines as many as thirty pairs of shoes. Lonnie gives every customer the feeling it's his privilege to be working for him.

A shine is apt to be interrupted half a dozen times by people pa.s.sing the open door behind him who yell, "Hi, Lonnie."

"Hey, there, Mr. Edwards," Lonnie will yell back, often without looking up. He knows almost every voice in the building.

Yesterday Lonnie shined my shoes again.

"I'll be packing it in in April," he told me.

"Leaving here?" I asked, shocked at the thought of the place without him. "Why would you do that?" I asked.

"I'll be seventy-five in April," Lonnie said.

"But you're strong and healthy," I said. "Why would you quit work?"

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Andy Rooney_ 60 Years Of Wisdom And Wit Part 14 summary

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