Andy Berke, If I Have a Heart Attack, It’s Your Fault

Ha, I could totally use my cow to squirt milk at Andy Berke, who is sending me emails all about what fat slobs we are and how we’re ruining Tennessee with our fat slobbitude. And lately, he’s even asking me to knock the cake out of fat kids’ hands.

Berke, life is hard enough for kids as it is. They don’t need some strange lady with a cow she uses to squirt people who displease her stealing their desserts. Think about the trauma such a scene would cause.

Berke says

In the long run, all of us spend more money to treat people with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other health problems caused by being overweight. At a time when kids should be more active and in better physical shape than at any time in their lives, they are heading down a dangerous health path.

Interestingly enough, these attitudes–that fat people are ruining it for everybody–may actually be physically harmful to fat people.

Heavy people may face discrimination in medical settings, too. The authors of the review, Rebecca Puhl and Chelsea Heuer, cite numerous surveys of anti-fat attitudes among health care workers, who tend to see obese patients as ugly, lazy, weak-willed, and lacking in motivation to improve their health. Doctors describe treating fatties as a waste of time, and the staff at teaching hospitals appear to single them out for derogatory jokes. Unsurprisingly, many obese people avoid seeing their primary care providers altogether, and those who do are less likely to be screened for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. (That’s true even among those with health insurance and college degrees.)

These data points suggest a rather simple approach to America’s obesity problem: Stop hating. If we weren’t such unrepentant body bigots, fat people might earn more money, stay in school, and receive better medical care in hospitals and doctor’s offices. All that would go a long way toward mitigating the health effects of excess weight—and its putative costs. But there’s an even better reason to think that America’s glutton intolerance is a threat to public health and the federal budget. Recent epidemiological research implies that the shame of being obese poses its own medical risk. Mental anguish harms the body; weight stigma can break your heart.

Also interesting is this phrasing Berke uses, “all of us” spend more money on obesity related conditions.  And yet, most of us are obese (two-thirds, according to the Slate article these last two paragraphs are from).  So it’s a little disingenuous to act like the money we spend on health care costs related to obesity are being wasted by us on someone other than us.

I’m trying to keep this light-hearted because I really like Berke, the subject is difficult, and I find Berke and Burks’ position to be cruel and calling someone who is on your side on their bigotry isn’t actually that fun.

But I would ask Berke and Burks to consider how obscene it is that at least 300,000 children in this state are at risk of hunger. There are roughly 1,600,000 kids under the age of 18 in this state, which means that roughly 400,000 of them are obese.

So, when you decided to take up a cause to “help” kids, you could have helped roughly the same number of kids (and let’s not forget that many of these kids are in both groups) either by oversimplifying the obesity issue into “they just eat too much” or by feeding kids who need it.

And you continue to choose to focus on how we can all “help” kids by increasing our scrutiny of what they do with they do with their bodies, which will surely make them feel terrible about their bodies, but has not been shown to actually make most people thinner.

I’m going to assume you just haven’t thought through how cruel this is.

6. Dodge City

Chuck Anderson lived through this. I should say that up front. He was young, six or seven, and his brother Antwane was twelve or thirteen.  Their mother worked at the grocery store across from the projects there on Murfreesboro Road, just past where it changes names from Lafayette.  The three of them lived in one of those low brick buildings that look more like barracks than homes and Antwane was charged with watching his brother after school, making sure they got next door to Mrs. Alexander’s for dinner, and that, after dinner, they did their homework before watching TV.

This had worked well, without incident, for years.  Not many, though longer than their mother could bear.

“Don’t answer the door for no one,” she said.  “Don’t play outside unless Mrs. Alexander is watching.  And don’t be hanging out with those boys on the corner.”

They never did.  They were good kids.

They were boys, though, and they horsed around.  And one day, they were chasing each other across the couch and then leaping from the couch into the chair and then onto the pillows stretched out across the floor, stepping stones across the hot lava.  Around and around, at least a half a dozen times, successfully, and then Chuck lost his footing, jumping from the couch to the chair, and he slipped, and hit his head on the arm of the sofa, and fell, limp, to the ground.

Antwane stopped immediately and ran to his brother.  He yelled for help.  He ran outside.  He knocked on Mrs. Alexander’s door.  Nothing.  He ran back inside.  Frantic, he died 911.

Long, long, rings.  Finally, an answer.  “My brother’s been hurt.  Please, send help.  My mom’s at work.  It’s really bad.”

“What’s your address, son?”

And he gives it.  And there is a long, long pause.

“How far in are you?”

Antwane can’t understand what he’s hearing.  “I’m in the kitchen.  My brother’s in the living room.”

Another long pause.

“Can you carry him?”

“I think so.”

“Okay, you need to lift him up and carry him to Murfreesboro Road.  The ambulance will meet you there.”


So, he does.  It takes him ten minutes, at the most.  So, when the ambulance is not there, he doesn’t think anything of it at first.  but it doesn’t come.

And it still doesn’t come.

And Antwane, by now is crying and he’s waving his arms at the passing cars, begging, “stop, please, stop.  My brother… Hospital…”

But no one stops.

Finally, one of the boys from the corner comes over, to see what’s going on.  He yells at someone to get a car and they load Chuck into the back seat and take him to the emergency room.  One of them even goes back and gets Antwane’s mom.

And, like I said, Chuck is fine.  He lives up around the corner from me and has some tech job I don’t understand, but lets him afford a big house with a nice yard.  His mom lives up in Springfield with her sister.

Antwane died a while back, of cancer, but before that, he was an accountant.

Here’s why Chuck will not drive down Murfreesboro Road.  Because sometimes, a young boy, twelve or thirteen, will dart into traffic, waving his hands, begging cars to stop.  The look of terror on his face scares most of them, and they roll up their windows and speed up.  Once or twice a year, though, a person will stop and the back door will open, and two young children will get into the back seat.  But by the time the car gets past Purity Dairy, the driver will find the back seat is empty.

“I know why he’s there,” Chuck tells me, one night, over beers.  “He never could let go of it.  He’d say, ‘If I had a gun, I could have made someone stop,’ or ‘If I were white…’ no offense… ‘If I were white, someone would have stopped for a couple of white kids, if one of them was hurt.’ Hell, if we were white, we wouldn’t have even been living there.  I know why he can’t get past that.  It makes sense to me.

“But they always see two kids.  What am I doing there?”

It’s Raining

Um, yes, so I had a lovely lunch with nm and we settled on some important gardening matters.  We saw literally everyone–my neighbor Jason, Ginger and her daughter, Peter Cooper, um… I think Nate Rau. And then I left and it was only sprinkling.

It started to rain more heavily. So I hid under a bush.

And then the skies opened up.

And now I am soaked.  Clear to the skin.

Except, fortunately, my underpants.

Because, let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than trying to pull on and off wet drawers all day.  As it stands, I’m having to go barefoot until my shoes dry.

Edited to add: And Ginger confirms that was Jack White sitting two booths behind nm. So, even more of everybody.

A Star in My Yard

This morning, I saw something bright yellow on the ground next to the shed. I mean, a bright lemony yellow, noticeable from across the yard. And I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I went over to it and it was a yellow five-pointed star.

It took me longer than it should have to make sense of it, considering that just this weekend I was marveling yet again at the green starry leaves right above the hammock I always commandeer.

But damn, it was beautiful.