At a surprise birthday event this week a large beautiful sheet cake was presented beside a stack of little plates, napkins and plastic forks. A feeble rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung with no one hitting the high note – nothing unusual there. So the cake was cut and plates began to be passed around the table – and around, and around the table. “No, none for me….”, “my diet…”, “I’m not eating carbs…”, no thank you, no thank you, no thank you. Well, until the cake got to me. A few of us had cake, but the big diet thing was hanging over us like a disapproving cloud. Savouring my first forkful of cake with fluffy icing, I felt like I could have been drinking wine out of a styrofoam cup at an AA meeting.
I’ve lived through a whole lot of diets with colleagues. The cabbage soup diet the entire office was on had us walking around farting like livestock. I’m pretty sure there’s a hole in the ozone above that office building.
The grapefruit diet that had everyone pretending to LOVE grapefruit. The no carb diets, the only-eat-one-c00kie-a-day diet, the diet that will give us the bikini body for the beach and so forth. I’ve seen diet miracles giving new healthier lives, and I’ve seen diet failure and I don’t underestimate how hard both are, but the commonality is in the little bit of smugness – the smugness of “I’m doing more for myself than you are – you cake eater, you”. At least that’s the guilt I pick up on imagined, or real.
So be a bit kind when we have cake. It’s a tribal custom that brings us together in so many ways. And judging from how the cake disappeared piece by piece from the coffee-room as the day went on, a lot of people are part of the tribe.
Don’t hate me for eating carbs. Life is short – sometimes, just sometimes…..eat the cake.