I “have” six children.
But I never claim that I or any male had actually birthed children.
Oddly, though I am beyond childbearing age, I have acquired something that moms usually deplore.
I have stretch marks. They are low, not high up.
I never had the “six-pack abs” rippling muscles that evoke admiring “Ooohs!” from some women.
But my “little round thing” that blocked my view of my belt buckle is all but gone. I have lost about 30 pounds within the past year.
Standing up and looking down, I now see my belt buckle without a mirror, even while wearing a loose-fitting shirt. As testament to my stylistic geezerness, I still tuck the ends of shirts inside my jeans.
“You look old!” with tucked-in shirts, exclaims my slenderized wife. She has dropped a few sizes in clothing. I am forbidden from knowing the specific number of pounds lost and pounds retained. That number of pounds is locked within her feminine sanctum sanctorum, inaccessible to males.
I find this amusing. I have no need to know her precise weight. But it is a delightful challenge to try to misdirect her into inadvertently blurting it out.
I regularly exclaim, “Down a pound!” As a result of the ketogenic diet we both now follow, more or less, she might reply, “Down a half-pound!” Her precise poundage? She merely smiles. Drat. Foiled again.
A year or so ago, our analog bathroom scale died. Before I bought a replacement, I consulted my Consumer Reports internet subscription for recommendations.
I discovered that the digital age has transformed bathroom scales. Our old one displayed a scale on a wheel, bisected by a pointer. That number is the weight. That’s all.
Today, one can buy something akin to the fitness tracker that can be wrist-worn. Stand on the scale, bend forward (the angle of the bend depends on the protuberance of the aforementioned “little round thing” cushioning our waists) and look downward.
Some scales display the percentage of weight that comes from fat. Some also calculate Body Mass Index, which measures weight in relation to height. Some scales even contain teeny wireless smartphone equivalents. They can upload the information to your smartphone or computer, so you can even, the magazine says, “share it with friends.”
I no longer even need to speak: “Hey, Joe, I weigh 155 pounds.” Joe can get a text message, probably automatically if I can ever find the requisite button in the “settings” app.
But why? I dunno. I do, however, digress. Let’s remedy that.
I thought of buying a scale that would zap my wife’s recorded weight automatically and secretly — to MY computer.
I did not do that.
I dislike sleeping in our barn. The wind whistles through the gaps, and the hay is sneeze inducing. But I did think about it, and enjoy a chuckle.
I then bought a battery-operated scale that seems more precise (it measures to within tenths of pounds) and is easier to read, with backlit black letters.
It accurately chronicled my weight loss.
To those of you who are piqued by my 30-pound loss and want to do what I did — Don’t.
About 15 pounds of that loss came as a result of previously discussed bladder cancer. I am now in remission, functioning, and not at all wishing to repeat that painful and degrading journey or wish it upon you.
But I’ll take the weight loss, and the additional 15 pounds lost because ketogenic dieting might have cancer-slowing properties, so we use it.
The stretch marks are a new phenomenon. My previous decades had been marked by gaining about 10 pounds per decade, from 130 in high school to near 190 last year. My doctor cautioned that I was developing pear-shaped metabolic syndrome, a serious health hazard. Everything sagged. What had been my pectoral muscles became my “little round thing,” but the skin stayed smooth.
That pear shape is mostly gone, as confirmed by visual exam and laboratory tests.
What remains, however, flops around.
Below my belly button are the wrinkles of my former belly bottom: Squishy, oddly shaped clumps of skin and subcutaneous fat not yet resorbed by my body.
My wife, who bore three children, advises that they will disappear with exercise, with good diet, with the application of some essential oils or herbs — and by following her advice in every aspect of what I do every day for the rest of my life.
Perhaps. Her own stretch marks have disappeared.
Mine remain, sad reminders of the bygone days of ice cream and Oreo cookies.
But, hey, they are below my belly button, not athwart it as pregnancy-induced stretch marks can be. Mine, covered by my jeans, are not pear-shaped bulges framed by “love handles.”
Noticing my new slenderness, some comment approvingly.
I milk it for all it is worth.
“Six-pack abs!” I shout, loudly slapping my side near my belt buckle.
Are they fooled? Probably not.
But then again, they can’t see whether I am a real hardbody.
That is just as well.
[Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren, and former publisher of The Leader-Vindicator. He lives near Brookville. Email: email@example.com]