Ahead of the Curves

The United States has fallen behind other countries in some categories — life expectancy, auto-making, nuclear-weapon-building — but we still lead the pack when it comes to the production of fat people. No other nation on earth holds a candle to us in that regard. If they did, we would eat the candle, especially if it smelled like vanilla. WE WILL EAT ANYTHING.

The latest statistics indicate that if you were to take all the excess fat from every American and put it into a big, giant pot and boil it, the Americans would dip Snickers bars into it and eat them.

How fat are we? In the late 1950s, it was faddish for college students to see how many people they could cram into a phone booth. The record was 25. When a group of average Americans tried to duplicate that feat last year, the most they could fit was zero, because phone booths don’t exist anymore. Some researchers believe that this is because we have eaten them.

Alt text

Once ate a big red candle.

The point is, Americans are fat, and because of this, weight loss is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States. We may be the fattest porkers in the world, but we also spend the most money in our efforts to become less fat. This has led to an over-production of gyms and fitness clubs, some of which are open 24 hours a day, because not only are we the fattest people, and the most spendy when it comes to losing weight, but we also have the most screwed-up priorities. Why would you sleep at 3 a.m. when you could be at the gym?

The most recent development has been the proliferation of Curves For Women, a chain of gyms (gynes?) for ladies only. The idea is that women might quit being so dang fat if they had a place to work out where they didn’t have to worry about men ogling them or intimidating them or beating them up, or whatever it is they don’t like that men do in gyms. Curves For Women is a safe place, designed with women in mind. The workout benches are adorned in frilly lace and the barbells come in a variety of festive colors. The locker rooms are decorated in a tasteful blend of Old World beauty and modern functionality. The readouts on the treadmills use “bowls of ice cream” as the unit of measurement for how many calories you’ve burned.

I’m kidding, of course. I have no idea what the inside of a women’s gym looks like. It’s for women, remember? I’m not allowed inside. This makes me nervous — not because I want to join Curves For Women, but because, I don’t know, I just want the option of joining. I’m always suspicious of gender segregation, going back to the day in fifth grade when the boys got extra recess time while the girls went into the cafetorium to watch a movie about their menstrual cycles. I assume that’s what happens at Curves For Women: the women sit around and have menstrual cycles.

Alt text

Now Curves For Women is branching out into diet plans, including a line of snack bars and cereals. That’s right! If you’ve been failed by Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, NutriSystem, SlimFast, Deal-a-Meal, Atkins, South Beach, Hollywood, and all the other food products designed to help you lose weight, well, why not try the Curves products? I mean, really, at this point, what could it hurt?

I became aware of Curves’ foray into the food business when some free samples arrived with my Sunday paper last week. There was a Curves-brand snack bar, a single-serving box of Curves cereal, and another single-serving box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which was puzzling, given that Cinnamon Toast Crunch has one of the highest fat and sugar contents of any breakfast cereal. Was this a test of some kind, to see if the target market would take the bait and eat the unhealthy cereal? Sneaky devils.

So, yeah: Curves now makes cereal. Cereal for women. What does it taste like? Chocolate and cuddling?

Alt text

Turns out it tastes like honey-tinged bran flakes. I didn’t really like it, but maybe it has hidden flavors that can only be detected by tongues possessing estrogen. I did enjoy the snack bar, though, which was the chocolate-and-peanut variety, but I noticed it had 3.5 grams of fat and 100 calories, which seemed high for a product meant for people trying to lose weight. Quaker’s Chewy Chocolate Chunk granola bars have 2 grams of fat and 90 calories, and those are for everyone. I eat them a lot when I’m out of Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts (which have 5 grams of fat and 200 calories apiece and are meant for people like me who are trying to see how fat they can get).

I think a lot of weight-loss programs take advantage of the fact that the average person isn’t very smart. It says Curves on it, and it has a picture of a very happy woman leaping into the air, so surely it will help you lose weight. I mean, look at how happy and not-fat that woman is! And this is what she eats!

For some reason I get a daily e-mail from Bally Total Fitness giving me health and weight-loss tips. The other day the e-mail said this: “Do you know the difference between the Use By and Sell By date on the foods you purchase?” And I thought: If the answer is no, you’re too stupid to lose weight. Stop trying, and accept your fatness. In fact, maybe that’s a good motto for all of us. If being fat is what we’re good at, why mess with success? Please pass the candle.

Curves' Wikipedia page says that some locations allow men to join, too. Curves' own site, however, makes no mention of this, and I chose to ignore it for the purpose of this column.

A couple notes on the audio version:

- The phrase "latest statistics" is very hard to say, I found out.

- The word "gynes" as the female version of "gyms" doesn't appear because there was no way for me to say it in a way that would make sense to the listener. It's really more of a visual joke.