Column: Overweight people will have the last laughWORTHINGTON — As nearly as I can learn, fats and leans have lived together in peace through all the ages. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so, between the two of them, they licked the platter clean."
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As nearly as I can learn, fats and leans have lived together in peace through all the ages.
“Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so, between the two of them, they licked the platter clean.”
Although they were inclined to quarrel and to lash out at one another, fat and lean comedy teams have been an enduring joy. Oliver Hardy (fat) and Stanley Laurel (lean). Bud Abbott (lean) and Lew Costello (fat). Fatty Arbuckle was an early screen idol.
The fat ones often have been our preferred companions. No one wants to spend an evening with lean, scrawny, shriveled Scrooge. Rather, we seek out a genial old guy with a beer belly and we settle into a comfortable, tickling conversation.
There are stories from China lore and from the lore of Native Americans that young men aspired to become fat guys. Big bellies. The belly was the evidence that you were a financial success and that you could afford to settle down to meals of six chickens and six pies.
Now and again through passing years there were wounding shots fired across the broad bows.
In 1947 — a long time ago — Arthur Godfrey introduced America to the,“Too Fat Polka.”
“Oh, I don’t want her, you can have her, She’s too fat for me.
She’s too fat for me. She’s too fat for me.…I get dizzy, I get numbo
When I’m dancing with my jum-jum-jumbo…”
Arthur Godfrey (lean) also played a key role in popularizing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Huggin’ and Chalkin’:
“I got a gal who’s mighty sweet, Big blue eyes and tiny feet
Her name is Rosabelle Magee/And she tips the scales at three-oh-three
“Oh, gee, but ain’t it grand to have a gal so big and fat/That when you go to hug her, you don’t know where you’re at/You have to take a piece of chalk in your hand/ And hug a ways and chalk a mark to see where you began…”
Cruel? Surely. But the songs were fleeting and soon forgot. Neil Diamond never sang “Huggin’ and Chalkin.” Neil Diamond dreamed of “Sweet Caroline.”
In recent years — very obviously — relations between the leans and the fats have changed. There was never a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11, but the leans turned on the fats and their attacks are relentless.
Once there only had been chiding:
“Fatty, fatty two-by-four can’t get through the school house door.”
Later the assaults became cruel and relentless. Fatty left the language and the leans launched grenade attacks: “Obese! They’re obese! Obesity is an American epidemic!”
String-bean attackers are found everywhere, but especially on television. Dr. Oz parades fatties on stage and counsels them — lectures them — on how to change their ways. Oprah, who has been in the ranks of both the fat and the lean, lately is decrying obesity. There are two or three full-length, prime-time productions aimed at The Biggest Loser, the man and/or woman who can drop the most pounds.
People are fat and — what is worst of all — fat people are going to take money from Jack Sprat’s pockets. USA Today reported recently, “The (obesity) projection, warns that 42 percent of Americans may end up obese by 2030 … and 11 percent could be severely obese, roughly 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight …. ‘If nothing is done, it’s going to hinder efforts for health care cost containment,’ says Justin Trogdon, a research economist…”
I have an idea the leans are toying with danger. I have an idea the genial fats are poised to turn on their attackers. When they do — well, look out!
One fatty could hold down three skinnies. Instead of skinnies telling fatties what to eat, fatties will tell skinnies. While one fatty holds three skinnies in place on the floor, another fatty could force feed them:
“Here — six milk shakes. Swallow them and swallow them fast. You’ve got chocolate cake to eat when the milk shakes are gone. You also have a cream pie.”
It will be a bad scene. And it is all together deserved. The bean poles are going to regret the day they first began shouting, “Obese!”
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.