Posts Tagged ‘sweet potato’

The Bar

February 4, 2010 1 comment

I had promised myself I wouldn’t go back until April 8th.

But I usually have a discussion group, once a month, and the Lazy Boy.  I’d forgotten to change the venue.  The minute I walked in a few acquaintances cheered.  “Father, what’s up?”  Stanley, a chef, said, “they’ve got some amazing brews, a few wonderfully heavenly hoppy concoctions.”  He smiled and stretched back, eager to share this discovery.

“Sounds amazing.  Unfortunately, it’s seltzer and a lime for me tonight.  I won’t be tasting for a while.”  And for a long while.  Beer is off limits until the 8th of April.  “Got a meeting and I’m off the hooch for another 20 days.”

“Really?”  He was intrigued and amused.  Clearly I’ve spent way too much time here.

“Yes.  I’m undergoing a cleanse.”  That’s the only way I’ve discovered I can describe the diet without horrifying people.  “No alcohol.  No sugar.  No dairy.  No grains.  No legumes.”

“Well, that’s cool.”  This is code for, you’re crazy and I’m not sure if I want to talk to you any more.

My co-leader arrived, and I said goodbye to the barflies as we made our trip to a table.

I had expected to find it difficult.   I’m in a familiar environment, one that gives me warm feelings, one where there is society and friendliness, one that has plenty of visible pleasures (I’m thinking of the beer, not the bartenders).

I’ve got a long relationship with beer.  When I’d come back from college, my dad would fill the refrigerator with a six pack of Sam Adams as a sign of affection.  My cousins were both beer distributors for microbreweries in the late eighties, so when I was in my twenties I went to a fair number of beer festivals, and poured at a couple.   I’m an accidental connoisseur.  Paleo asks me, “is it worth it?”

There is a greater issue at stake.  I’m an admirer of civilization.  If our culture is derived from agricultural society, then there are some practices worth keeping.  For some, beer is why there is a civilization.  Someone accidentally discovered the enjoyable properties of mead and decided to cultivate the ingredients for a more consistent state of mental bliss.  After all, that is how early bureaucrats got paid.  In beer.  (I’ll let someone else to the fact checking on this).

Actually,  being there wasn’t bad – I’m habituated by this point, to say no to everything.    I’m also seeing results.  The other evening, a friend said, “your face looks thinner.”  She was the type who is fairly … obsessed with bodies and body images, so I took it seriously.    I admit, there was some mental preparation I was doing instinctively.  There was no question about what I would do.

I ordered an Angus, grass fed burger with sweet potato fries.  It was the first time I’d ever willingly substituted sweet potato fries for regular fries.  But like the other replacements I’ve been using, it has been easy to make that switch.  Sweet potato fries will never be like Belgian frites, but it will do, and it will do permanently.

I’d asked them to keep the bun, but they still served it to me, not because they wanted to sabotage my diligence, which could be the desire of some, such as grain worshiping vegans or shills for ConAgra, but because they were not in the habit.  I pushed the bun to the side.  I used to take the bun off but still eat it just because it was there.  I’m training myself otherwise.

I did write the owner the other day, “consider paleo!”  He wrote back saying he’d look into it.

I shared my experience with Crossfit with my colleague’s husband.  “Stamford?”

“Yes, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”  I gave the outline:  high intensity; bodyweights; pure exercises.  It’s not a gym, but more like a dojo.  It’s like a philosophy.  “It’s a cult,” I joked.

Let me be careful here.  I’m using this word in a very technical sense.  For most people “cults” are where there is a charismatic leader that leads people to kill themselves.  It’s pejorative.  But the more precise definition is, a cult is a religion that requires initiation and commitment.    Granted, there’s no worshiping, except for the ideal of a strong healthy body.  Still, in order to join, you need to be dedicated, and those who are more committed will be invited into learning more of the faith’s secrets.

It’s nothing like being an Episcopalian.  We’re like, “hey, come whenever.”  We don’t care.

Crossfit is “Look, if you really want to be strong, you have to go through the ritual.”  The ritual, in this case, is the WOD.    Crossfit asks, do you want to be like the all the lazy, unhealthy schlubs in the rest of the world who can’t save some one from a fire, pull themselves up from the edge of a cliff, or who can’t run from bears? Do you really want to be like that?  Really?    Well, that’s OK.  We’re for motivated people.

And I, padre old stone, want to be part of that.  I’m realizing it’s clearly not for everybody.

“You should join,” I said.  “It’s been great.”  He’s strong and a good athlete.

“I’ll go!  Take me.  It sounds like my kind of workout.”

“I  think you’ll need to get in touch with them yourself.”  It’s his journey.