My friend, the late Dick Cosgrove, erstwhile newspaper advertising manager and erstwhile columnist for The Citizens Voice, had a quip for every circumstance. If I’d wad up a sheet of paper, toss it at a waste paper basket and miss, he’d say, “You couldn’t hit Texas with a bale of hay from a balloon.”
Sometimes he’d mix it up and say, “You couldn’t hit a bull in the arse with a snow shovel.” To that one I’d answer, “Why would I want to?”
When I attempted to grow a beard one winter, he took one look at me and said, “You’ve got to start standing closer to the razor in the morning.”
When I began to lose my hair, he sympathized with, “Ah, I know the feeling. You find yourself washing more and more face every day.”
Among my favorites was the one he’d come out with if he saw a corpulent fellow with an ample belly straining the seams of his business suit and dress shirt. “That guy’s trousers should throw a party,” he’d say, “and invite his tie down.”
It’s lack of sensitivity was unlike Dick, but it sure was funny.
After washing my hands in the men’s room near my office recently, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and there between the tip of my tie and the top of my pants, was a good six inches of white shirt stretched across an ample belly of my own. The joke now applies to me.
Every guy knows — well, every guy except the one in the White House — the sartorial standard is for the tip of one’s tie to touch the buckle of one’s belt. And that’s exactly what mine does when I get dressed in the morning. Unfortunately my belly, my new-found belly I hasten to add, must have its way these days, and before long the top of my slacks settles into a position considerably lower than the one I observed in the mirror before leaving the house. By mid-morning, the buckle of my belt can no longer even see the tip of my tie, let alone touch it.
I’m calling it my “new-found belly” because it seems to have crept up on me overnight. It’s probably more a matter of denial than reality, but I could swear my pants fit a lot better just a few months ago.
What’s killing me is that for most of my adult life, I was considered thin, if not downright skinny. In fact, that’s the nickname the late Chucky Giardina had for me: “Skinny.”
I wore the same size pants, 32 inch waist, 32 inch inseam, from the time I was 22 til the time I was 50.
My suit size was a 40 regular, but that came with 34 inch pants which fell off me if I didn’t have them tailored. I’d take those 34s in a minute now.
My sister’s mother-in-law Millie Kern always wanted to fatten me up. Well, if she’s looking down from Heaven I hope she’s happy.
The frustrating thing is I hit the gym regularly. And I hit it hard. Which has me wondering how big I’d be around the middle if I didn’t.
But I’m afraid the gym alone is not going to get the job done. Neither is praying. So I’ve finally accept that if I have any hope of making this belly go away, I am going to need some help.
I’m talking to you, Mike Augello.
You have to take that penne pasta with peas dish off your menu at The Gramercy.
And to you, too, Fred Marianacci. Stop making your meat sauce and ladling it over a half pound of rigatoni.
And for God’s sake, can you both tell your wait staff to stop putting baskets of Italian bread on the table?
Fred’s wife is not off the hook either. How about cooling it with the homemade pies already, Patti?
Will somebody at Anthony’s in Old Forge tell me white pizza is a terrible choice as an appetizer? Will somebody at the donut shop on Laurel Street go ahead and hide the raisin squares when they see me stopping by for coffee? And can the folks at Tony’s Pizza just lock the door when they see me coming?
That goes for Bobby Delvin and the Cebula’s crowd too. Lock the door, douse the lights and pretend you’re closed.
Culprits who brought me to this point abound. Many of them have this habit of filling up my beer glass as soon as it’s empty. This has to stop.
I’m begging you, all of you, show me some mercy.
Without your help, my only recourse will be to start wearing my ties Donald Trump-style.
Spare me, please, from a future of Trumpian ties.
And from hearing Dick Cosgrove’s voice every time I look in the mirror.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.