Cook: (v)  to prepare food by the use of heat.

Traveling on the road doing musical presentations with my family, which bounced us often from poverty to temporary riches, I discovered that our little gathering of souls required—every day—to eat.

This became an interesting situation, because we stayed in motel rooms before these establishments began offering microwaves and funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
refrigerators. Since there was no refrigerator to keep food cold and no microwave for cooking, I purchased two—count them—TWO electric skillets, for the purpose of preparing meals for our family band.

Everything had to be cooked in these two skillets, and food that was perishable needed to be purchased daily. My wife had no desire to become the chief cook, and even turned down the position of bottle washer. I didn’t blame her. She was busy being Mama to the kids and helping out to secure our arrangements for gigs.

So I took the job on myself, and began teaching my nine-year-old son, Jerrod, to be my fellow-cooker. Some people might consider this to be cruel or unusual—asking a child to figure out how to make hamburger helper, vegetables and a side, using two electric skillets, for eight people. But honest to God, this kid was great. I don’t know whether he just enjoyed working with me, or actually found it intriguing, but by the end of the summer he had taken on the entire responsibility as the chef of the motel room.

Because the front desk at these establishments did not want cooking in the room, he had to be careful that smells did not escape, and that his washing of the pans at the end of the experience wouldn’t clog up the sink. Even though I cannot tell you I would do the same thing again—either traveling across the country with my family or asking my nine-year-old son to be in charge of the galley—it turned him into a dynamic young man who grew into a fabulous human being, married with two children of his own, and still continues to cook with glee.

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Cake: (n) an item of soft, sweet food, baked and often decorated.

I don’t like cake, I like frosting.

There are times I was willing to eat a little cake to get the last portion of frosting. I have gone to weddings and parties and observed people
who eat the cake and leave the frosting. They feel very pious about this. They will even crinkle their nose and say, “The frosting is too sweet.”


It is so sweet that you can taste the granules of sugar in your mouth.

Because of this yearning for frosting, I have learned not to eat cake. People offer it to me all the time at receptions and I turn it down, even when they tell me it’s sugar free.

The frosting is never sugar free. The frosting is delicious. The frosting is like devouring the living organs of the body of sweetness.

It is magnificent.

They even make frostings that have different flavors, textures and of course, coloration.

I cannot think about cake without musing over frosting.

When I was a boy, I once encouraged my mother to put less frosting on a birthday cake so that she would have half-a-can left, to place in the refrigerator, so I could sneak in later and slurp it up.

This required a rehab.

So let me say, part of my twelve-step program is to never eat cake because it’s tenderly caressed by irresistible frosting.


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Bushed: (adj) tired out

“Be zealously affected by a good thing.”

What does it mean?

Allow ourselves to become emotionally stimulated, involved and energized by the fact that we’re pursuing something that has value.

There are two reasons:

First, it’s a lot easier to be successful when you’re excited about your pursuits.

But secondly, it quickly establishes the projects that have value and bring happiness, and those that don’t. If we decide to treat everything the same in our lives, we soon feel bushed–totally exhausted, carrying ourselves like a leaden weight from one mishap to the next.

There has to be a difference between the pleasure of going to a grocery store and buying food to eat, and cleaning the underneath of the refrigerator. If both evoke the same weary reaction, then you have accidentally turned your life into a grindstone instead of a merry-go-round.

Added onto that old adage of “being zealously affected by a good thing” should be the closing remark, “and be gloriously, deliciously tired over a sense of accomplishment.”

This is human life. This is why we are here.

Otherwise, our facial expressions and lack of passion simulate a premature death.

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Breakfast: (n) a meal eaten in the morning, the first of the day

It is part of the “wearing a coat” syndrome.Dictionary B

When I was a younger man, I often walked out into Ohio winters in a short-sleeved shirt, portraying to those lads and lasses around me that I was so engorged with virility that my body was nearly aflame.

Every attempt by adults to get me to wear a coat was eschewed as being “weak,” comically unnecessary.

I had much the same feeling about breakfast. Although I was a fat guy, I never ate breakfast. So all my food consumption fell within an eight-hour period–from noon to eight o’clock at night. Then I would go without any consumption of treats for sixteen hours.

It made me grumpy and actually ended up causing me to overeat–because once I was unleashed at the noon hour, I was a consuming hellion.

I don’t know why I didn’t want to eat breakfast. It was just that cool kids did not sit down in the morning in front of a plate and have their mommies make them bacon and eggs. I could have eaten cereal, but that would have required a bowl and retrieving milk from the refrigerator.

It was easier to walk out of my house coatless, nearly freezing to death, on an empty stomach–to prove that I was truly a beast of the wilderness.

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dictionary with letter A

Ap·pe·tite (n): a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.

I stumbled across a conversation on the Internet between two women, arguing with one another about food.

Each of them had posted a picture of herself, so I had a quick visual of the combatants.

The extraordinarily slender woman was piously offering advice on better food choices that her “friend” might want to select to escape the rigors of obesity.

The “friend” in this case, who was a plump lady with a big smile, lamented in her diatribe about people who judge her by her appearance, offering way too much advice on how she could become more attractive and meet their standards.

It fascinated me in this day and age, when people are so convinced that we are “born a certain way,” that we excuse all of our prejudice against one another based on the necessity of consuming food.

For I will tell you this–because I am a fat man, I know more about calories, good food choices and what is healthy than twenty skinny people. I can tell you exactly how much I overeat, and how those particular carbyhydrates or sugars affect not only my plumpness, but also my mood.

There is no chubby person in America who couldn’t apply for a license to become a dietitian.

The sooner we realize that our appetites are primal, if not genetic, the better we will be able to address them, bringing them under our scrutiny if not our control.

I have the metabolism of a sloth, so I also have to fight to escape having the exercise regimen of the same creature. In other words, I would much rather hang from a tree by two claws than fall to the earth and run about hunting bananas.

Add to that the fact that I do not eat because I’m hungry. I tend to eat because the refrigerator has not yet been emptied. It seems to be my mission.

I don’t expect someone who’s thin and burns calories by looking at a book to comprehend this dilemma. But I do think one of the more cruel aspects of human prejudice is to squint at the weaknesses in others as we smirk at our own.

Appetites are what confirm that somewhere along the line we had a merger with the jungle. Addressing them, acknowledging a problem and controlling them is what confirms that we have a divine lineage.


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by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abstemious: (adj.) not self-indulgent, especially when eating or drinking. “We only had one bottle.” “Very abstemious of you.”

It’s not fair.

Well, of course, it IS fair. It’s just more powerful to begin an essay like this with an obtuse proclamation of disparity.

I can go into a restaurant and watch somebody eat a total of three thousand calories at one sitting (being a fatty, I have total awareness of the calorie count of every known food) and watch as that individual, who has consumed this humongous amount of food, stands up and leaves, appearing to be as thin as a razor.

I, on the other hand, can meticulously consume twelve hundred calories in an entire day, and not shed one single ounce in the process.

I do not know if it’s some great cosmic joke. I am not sure if it’s some sort of genetic foible. It could be that there is a missing link in my own thinking that needs to be inserted, or a demon which needs to be driven from my deep, dark, fatty soul, to allow me to walk in the “thinness of life.”

But last night I ran headlong into the situation. Finishing up my evening, having not yet consumed my dinner, I was hungry. Now, understand–as a fat person, I don’t need to be hungry to eat. Matter of fact, there are nights when I’m watching television when I am quite full, but still am taking a mental inventory of the contents of the nearby refrigerator.

But last night I had actually expended energy and was famished. Yet I wanted to remain faithful to some unseen code of behavior, which would allow me to be considered a “fatty-in-retreat” instead of a plumper, charging ahead for more gain. So I ordered myself a twelve-inch veggie sandwich from Subway, brought it home, purchased a small bag of chips and ate it. Although quite delicious, when I finished it, I began to look around the room to find out where my dinner had gone.

They tell you if you wait twenty minutes after eating, you will feel full. I’m sure this is true, but twenty minutes might as well be three days unless you put me into a coma. I am going to start looking for alternatives. What can I further consume which will make me look righteous in my pursuit of weight loss, but still satisfy the little fat boy who live in the basement of my house?

I’m sure I did poorly.

Can I tell you?–I’m tired of doing poorly. It’s not that I am tired of pursuing upright eating. No, it’s just that sometimes I feel like I’m going against the natural order of my existence in an attempt to look better or buy more time in the calendar of my years.

Don’t get me wrong. I will still be here today–parsing my calories and analyzing my food.

Abstemious–choosing to avoid certain things.

Because it’s my lot. Some people can’t do what I do, and I can’t eat three thousand calories at McDonald’s without having someone roll me out the door in a wheelbarrow, doing chest compressions.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abs: (n.) the abdominal muscles

I was so relieved.

I cannot tell you how worried I was, especially when I was seeing people like Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and even a bunch of women on the movie screens, all of these individuals possessing this strange conglomeration of a knotty formation right in the middle of their stomachs, which now is commonly referred to as a “six-pack.”

I was a little concerned mainly because I did not have anything resembling this particular formation.

But I was informed by my doctor–or at least I interpreted this from her words–that I was just not born with them. Isn’t that terrific? Because if that were NOT the case, it would mean that I was lacking in some way or that it was necessary for me to learn how these outstanding specimens of physical health had achieved these configurations. But as it turns out, I do not possess the ability to acquire this.

(Now, what my doctor really said was, “You’re so fat that the muscles can’t be seen.” But I realized that she was just sending a subliminal thought to me, and I translated to, “Relax, Jon. You have other gifts besides abs.”)

For you see, my friends, we can spend our lives lamenting our lack or celebrating the party being thrown in our heads. I am overjoyed to know that by God‘s design, I am abless.

Where some people have a six-pack, God, the Father has given me … a refrigerator.