Monday, March 6, 2017

The Taco Bell Diet

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

“Well, tomorrow’s my day off, so I’m heading to Taco Bell!” was my foolish, foolish cry as I strode out the back door to the employee parking lot behind my post office.
“What’s your day off got to do with where you go for dinner?” asked a coworker.
“Not just dinner,” I answered. “Taco Bell. I don’t have to work tomorrow, so I can just lie around all day bitching, moaning, and recovering.”
“Ah.” The coworker nodded. “I get it.”
Apparently, though, I didn’t. It had started out a joke, just something amusing to say as I exited the building, kind of making fun of cheap Mexican food*; driving away from the office however, the idea gained a strange sort of traction in my mind. I hadn’t had Taco Bell in quite a while. If there was a reason for the long stretch of Taco Bell abstinence, I couldn’t remember it. I did remember liking it, though. And that it was easy: a pre-packaged meal that was simple to just pick up and eat one-handed, leaving the other hand free to do other stuff. I had some reading and editing to get done that night, and I was hungry.
It seemed, to my mind at the moment, like a match made in heaven.
I pulled up to the Taco Bell drive-through and realized it had been quite a while since I’d been there: I had no idea what to order. “Welcome to Taco Bell, can I help you?” squawked the box, and I had one of those moments of confused panic I once made fun of old people for—you know, before I became one. The menu board was just a wall of words and numbers that meant nothing to me. I didn’t even know where on the frigging thing to find tacos—and then I spotted the word I was looking for. It had some other words around it, but I didn’t really comprehending them until I heard the whole phrase coming out of my mouth.
“I’ll have the taco twelve-pack, please.”
Wait—what? said the rational part of my brain—what I now recognize as my common sense—a little panicked. Did I just say twelve?
Don’t worry about it, said the part of my brain that was trying to bluff it out and come off looking a rough approximation of cool, even though it was still reeling, hotly denying it had just been through a senior moment. I’m off tomorrow, so whatever I don’t eat tonight just becomes instant lunch, right?
Okay, that sort of makes sense, said my rational part, and while it was distracted by the crumb of logic that had just been thrown its way, my mouth—apparently firmly in the bluff it out and look cool camp—completed my order, asking for six soft, six crunchy, hold the lettuce, please. I made the drive home with my rational part shoved into the backseat of the Mini, ignoring it as it asked What did we just do? Guys? Guys? What did we just do?
I plunked my box-O-tacos down on the kitchen table, set my Chromebook a little ways behind it, and started reading, eating tacos a bit like chips: mechanically, one after the other, without really paying attention. They were tasty, though, and that was about all that registered as I unwrapped and chewed, unwrapped and chewed, all while scrolling down the page . . . and I was suddenly full. No, more than full, I was a little bit stuffed. How had that happened? I checked the box and found the three remaining tacos huddled at the bottom of the container like the three little pigs if they’d been without building supplies when B. B. Wolf came rolling into town all full of pep and feeling peckish.
I’d eaten nine. Without even noticing. Who was the pig here?
I packed the three little leftovers into the fridge and went about my business, falling asleep early due to the unplanned but comfortable roundness of my gut—it ain’t just tryptophan knocking overeaters out on their feet after Thanksgiving dinner; a full belly has something to do with it, too. The last thing I heard before drifting off was a strange but powerful gurgle coming from deep within the bowels of . . . well, my bowel.
I woke already on my feet and moving, stumbling through the darkened bedroom in a way that, while not exactly panicked, had a serious sense of urgency. Wow, I thought as I sat down in the dark, not having taken the time to hit the light switch on the way into  the bathroom. That was a close one. I must have really been asleep to let things, uh, progress that far before waking.
It was the middle of the night, so I finished what I was doing—couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to, actually—and went back to bed.
For almost half an hour.
Then I was up and urgent again. And then I went back to bed. And then I was urgent again. Back to bed. Urgent again. Bed. Urgent.
You get the picture.
I often weigh myself first thing in the morning, because that way the day can really only get better. Once the sun was up I stepped on the scale—after a bout of urgency—and found that, despite the previous evening’s consumption of however much nine tacos comes out to by weight, I had lost five pounds. Overnight. And I was—whoops, it was time to be urgent again—still losing.
I’m not sure just how much weight I lost overall, but I did spend a significant portion of that day sitting on what is commonly referred to as the throne, trying to remember the words to songs like “Burning Love,” and “Burnin’ For You,” and—my personal favorite that day—”Ring Of Fire.” I’d have weighed myself again, but that would have required me to stand upright while not being urgent, and that simply wasn’t an option: my legs spent most of that day asleep.
By the next morning I was okay again, and a lucky thing, too, as I had to go to work. I got dressed and made my way downstairs, walking a bit gingerly and still humming “Ring Of Fire.” I stopped by the ’fridge, looking for something to take for lunch.
My eye fell upon the three leftover tacos, sitting on the shelf all innocuous and tasty-looking.
It’s just three, said the bluff it out and look cool part of my mind. Three couldn’t hurt, right? And they were tasty. I reached out a hand—
—and my common sense burst into the kitchen, well rested but pissed off at having been locked in the back seat of the Mini for a day and a half. Some bitch-slapping happened, and bluff it out and look cool began to cry. I threw the leftover tacos in the trash and dug out the bread and peanut butter, constructing myself a bland little lunch while my common sense beat bluff it out and look cool’s ass all over the house. When I left, common sense was flushing bluff it out and look cool’s head in the toilet and screaming “How do you like me now?”
I drove to work. One of the clerks saw me entering the building and shouted, “How was your day off?”
If she’s reading this, now she knows.

Talk to you later.

*My apologies to any Mexican-Americans out there reading this. I am aware that referring to Taco Bell as Mexican food is roughly equivalent to calling McDonald’s haute cuisine. Please remember I’m trying for humor here. Trying.

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