I’m a kid again — can’t leave the table until I eat my beets
I’ve reached the age at which I no longer can eat whatever I want. It’s like being a kid again but without the bowl of Alpha-Bits and Saturday morning cartoons.
I realized this as I gagged down a mess of beets. For my blood pressure. Followed by a pinch-my-nose glass of cranberry juice. For prostate health. And a snack of celery sticks. For weight issues. At least one of those things was sprinkled with flaxseed or some such nonsense.
My loathing of beets and company traces back to my childhood when I discovered they taste grody — or, to use the scientific term, yucky.
But in those days, parents barked unreasonable phrase such as, “Eat what’s on your plate or go hungry,” or “Even if it takes all night, you’re not leaving the table until your lima beans are gone.”
Lima beans were OK with butter, but I’d rather go to bed hungry than eat disgusting beets. When not even the dog would touch the cranberry salad, I pulled the stack of napkins from the holder to test it for a pillow. I was going to be at the table all night.
Meanwhile, perfect foods like pizza, Coca-Cola and Oreos toppled into the rare treats category. Mom grew an oversized garden. Dad proclaimed he wasn’t wasting money on Twinkies when we had shelves of perfectly good canned green beans, squash and beets lining the basement walls.
As a teen, I shriveled to a 26-inch waist. Some credit vegetables and farm work. I know it was because my cruel parents starved me.
I swore that when I grew up, no one would ever force me to eat vile, nasty so-called edibles again. I’d eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
When I left for college, pizza, Coca-Cola and Oreos became diet staples. Nary a beet stained my plate. This was life exactly as I wanted to know it.
My 20s and 30s sailed along deliciously. A few waves rocked the boat in my 40s and 50s until a typhoon of pizza threatened blood sugar numbers and made joints ache, Coke triggered gout attacks and stretched my belt, and Twinkies made the scales cry.
Now in my 60s, pizza once again has become a rare treat — just like when I was a kid. Except my doctors also say no more Alpha-Bits or Cocoa Puffs. (If the networks still ran Saturday morning cartoons, would “The Archies” and “Space Ghost” be bad for me now, too? Everything else is.)
Worse, doctors and my spouse urge me to eat beets, cranberries, rutabaga, turnips and other such vile nonsense for various symptoms, issues and aggravations that accompany aging.
When I was a kid getting sent to bed without dessert, I learned to hide a small food stash in my bedroom. I can’t hide Pop-Tarts and Snickers bars in my bedroom now because the warden, er, wife sleeps there, too.
Whoever expected the freedom of adulthood to morph into more restrictions than being bossed about as a child?
Once again, I choke down beets, nauseate on asparagus and ralph over radishes. Because I’m a grownup. Who gets to eat whatever he wants. My bones, joints, spouse and doctors inform me exactly what that is.
Hint: I could have sworn I craved Cap’n Crunch. I’ve been informed that no, I don’t. Just like when I was a kid begging for a third bowl before “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour.”