August 3, 2001
After ten excruciatingly long years of sitting at what I previously considered to be a dangerously close proximity to my co-worker BC, I have finally thrown in the towel on our long-standing feud because I think I may have matured. Actually, if you’ve ever worked in an office comprised almost completely of women, and you’re not a stalwart feminist, you know how hard it is to “just get along”. If you’re a man, other than LA Fire Inspector Joe Gould that reads my column, be happy in the knowledge that you will never know what truly exists between female co-workers. (It’s not all about bloating and chocolate cravings!)
Let me first start by giving you a mental picture of BC. She is about twenty years older than I am, wears little makeup and keeps her straight brown hair neatly parted down the center never reaching past her earlobes. She is at least a foot shorter than I am so she’s of what some refer to as normal height. To me she will always be that rarity that shops in the petite or boys department.
BC keeps her athletic physique by swimming five times a week, not willing to share her “lane” with anyone daring to trespass, at a gym that supplies her with soft terry robes and a cabana boy to boot no doubt. She invests in the stock market, sharing her portfolio advice to anyone that will listen. (Eddie has not stepped up to the BC “plate” for that one yet.)
She was an adorable baby to loving parents, a hip happening chick in the sixties and seventies, a warm aunt to her beloved niece, has several lifelong friendships and has been rewarded admirably well with good looks, a well tended and cared for body and continued quick wits on the job. The payoff from her healthy lifestyle, as you’ve guessed it, has become more appealing to me. And with that came the biggest difference between BC and myself, a very reluctant change of diet for the Eve of Destruction.
Anyhoo, since BC and I had been getting along a lot better recently I was more open to her suggestions for a change. Like the mentor in the old Karate Kid movies, she had been bestowing little tokens of her “wax on, wax off” wisdom to me. And I was finally listening.
First came her advice on which old and new films I should see. She’s read many film star biographies and knew the “inside scoop” on several classic films. (Our other co-workers, younger than the two of us, think we’re speaking Greek when comparing the dramatic films of Kirk Douglas to the even lesser known films of Montgomery Clift.) She’s also an avid reader of The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, I of Escape and whatever else is handy in the john.
She knew the reviews for the new film The Score were great; I knew that Marlon Brando was naked from the waist down during his scenes due to the heat and had be directed by Robert Deniro because he called Frank Oz, of Muppet movie fame, Miss Piggy. The film’s exciting pace turned out to be the best fist, teeth and buttock-clenching workout that I’ve ever had outside of my gym. BC’s advice was right on the money!
In recent months I also took notice of BC’s new wardrobe that flattered her figure and contributed to her youthful look. She told me that the new retail-clothing store she had discovered a few blocks from our office offered us a discount. She recommended that I buy the turquoise “fancy pants” that she herself had recently purchased. I’ve since noticed that two other co-workers have also followed suit and Fancy Pant Friday has now taken over Casual Friday. (Although I’m not too sure if that’s a good thing.)
And, now here’s the kicker, for the past ten years she’s recommended her diet to all. It was the last of BC recommendations that I had yet to accept wholeheartedly. And I was to find that her eating habits were the one habit that I had to adopt if I wanted to look good, and feel healthy, for the next twenty, or more, years.
Her homemade food, if that’s what she wanted to call it, I had always referred to as “bark”. She was constantly offering me things that couldn’t possibly taste any better than they looked, or smelled. She spoke onto my deaf ears for those years about good and bad fats. The polyunsaturated fat in my almond croissants, the hydrogenated oil/fat/whatever in my chocolate chocolate chip muffins, too much refined sugar in my favorite Junior Mint afternoon snack and the amount of whole milk in my 24-ounce latte.
“Have you tried soy milk instead? It’s so yummy.” She said this at a particularly weak moment of mine; I was so bloated by the number of fat free potato chips that I had had that I was feeling, and looking, pregnant and was decidedly uncomfortable. “Okay, okay I’ll try it. Write down your entire diet and I’ll go shopping already!”
Here was said “DIET”, in a walnut shell, so to speak: Breakfast: health food store cereal, walnut pieces, cut fresh fruit, orange juice. Lunch: fat free plain yogurt, walnut pieces and the same fruit. Dinner: steamed veggies, maybe a small piece of poached fish or chicken and chocolate soymilk for dessert. For “snack” yogurt cheese (can’t do it yet, may never get there, I know I’m weak.) and more soymilk in her coffee, soymilk in the cereal, possible a little soy sauce when she allows a little sushi on in her diet. I found that above all else, I could handle the soymilk the best.
Truly, the other reason that I started this column was to talk about this soymilk craze. If you drink soymilk you won’t need any more sugar or fat in your diet because this little health food wonder is incredibly sweet and FILLING. In fact everyone at Starbucks was ordering soymilk drinks just last Sunday. I could picture BC at her own local haunt imbibing with a glistening glass of her fountain of youth after a few laps through the chlorine. I found myself spouting off about my youthful looking friend to the gal next to me waiting for her soy latte. It turned out that she was ten years older than I would have guessed, attributed it to her soymilk and told me I wouldn’t have the cold I now had if I didn’t just start drinking soymilk and my “toxins” were trying to escape. I think she was joking. But between her and BC and heck, even Marilu Henner is looking too good to ignore, I believe it’s time for me and my pal Marlon Brando to step up to the soy plate! Thanks for keeping at me for ten years BC! Now what’s with the walnuts and the bark?