By ALEXI VENICE
I complimented my boss at work, telling her she looked like she had lost weight. (I know, right?!) She laughed and said, “1970’s Diet.”
Oh, do tell. I had to compare the food on my boss’ diet to the decade-long diet I watched my mother follow during my formative years from ages 5 to 15.
Here’s the new diet trending in 2018. Talk about a Throwback. The phrases in bold italics are mine.
Actual claim that precedes the diet: When on the three-day diet, these foods work together chemically and trigger a weight loss reaction of up to 10 pounds. I condensed Days 1 through 3 because there’s a lot of repetition.
The following shows in precise measurements how the three-day diet should be followed.
Breakfast: Black coffee, water, or tea; half of a grapefruit or pink grapefruit juice; and one slice of toast with 1 or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Lunch: Black coffee, water, or tea; 1/2 cup of water-packed tuna; and five saltine crackers
Dinner: Black coffee, water, or tea; 2 hot dogs; 1/2 cup carrots; 1 cup cabbage; 1 cup vanilla ice cream; and 1/2 banana
Midnight: Pace floor from drinking coffee at dinner. Fitbit steps!
1am: Take a Zantac for hunger pangs and coffee burning in your stomach. Eat five more saltines with butter on them.
2am: Stare into refrigerator for guilt-free snack. Curse the dog for not understanding and for looking fit and trim in his furry jumpsuit. Eat a box of vanilla wafers while staring at the microwave clock. Toss a few to the dog, so he can be your partner in crime. Go outside with the dog to get fresh air and pace around the yard. Cave in and drink a beer to counterbalance the caffeine.
A few things that differ from my childhood: I recall that chocolate cake was substituted for the vanilla ice cream, and I don’t see slices of pineapple mixed with cottage cheese on a bed of iceberg lettuce. How about a whole tomato cut into a blossom with cottage cheese in the middle? Salt and pepper to taste. Yum!
The hot-dog and cottage cheese garbage gut was supposed to be supplemented with a six-pack of Tab and a pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes. I can still taste Tab cola on the tip of my tongue. That aftertaste was designed to last at least 50 years. Carbonated toothpaste. BLECH! If given a choice, now I’d smoke the heater over drinking the Tab any day.
The woman in that photo actually resembles my mother in the 70’s, or at least something she would’ve worn back then. I love the tagline, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Really? That sounds like something Trump would say to a reporter during a press conference. Anyway, I was 10 in the below pic, which means my mother was 37. Let’s not discuss how I was hamming it up in my bathrobe, though. Ugh.
If the women who hung out with my mother found themselves getting too antsy from the caffeine and nicotine rush, while starving, they were expected to iron their husbands’ shirts and watch a soap opera. (I recognize that not all women were doing this. Just my mother and her buddies. And, I have nothing against her. She was a terrific mom in the 70’s.)
I specifically recall the soap, “The Dumb and the Senseless,” and a character named Victor Newman, who has been played by Eric Braeden since 1980. (I was close on the decade.) Victor (Eric) is still on this soap today. He has to be one of the longest performing actors ever on a soap. It’s strangely reassuring for me to see him when the soap is advertised. Presidents come and go, but Victor is still playing the businessman-cad 38 years later. Basically, Victor is a more palatable version of Trump than Trump.
In addition to watching soaps and ironing—and raising children—what else did my mother and her friends do in the 70’s? They suntanned! After smearing baby oil all over their bodies, they unfolded silver reflective mats and baked. While baking, they read scandalous novels like Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan. She also wrote THE LOVE MACHINE!
I haven’t read this book, but I noticed there are pills on the front, which seems appropriate for the Valium-popping women of the 1970’s. That was apparently a thing, but I didn’t see my mother do that. She was more into martinis and beer. Schmidt beer to be exact, which traveled well, because she and her friends tossed empties out of the car window without a conscience.
(Recently, just to get a reaction from my daughter, I tossed my empty bottle of Vitamin Water into the grass while we were standing on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Her head snapped around quicker than you can do a Google search, and the look in her eyes was priceless—mortified and disgusted with me! It was so worth it. I’ll have to do that again sometime when she least expects it. Maybe toss one in the lake this summer while we’re swimming. Yes, of course, I picked it up. You know me by now. Geez Louise!)
Back to the 70’s culture. What did my mother and her friends do for entertainment? She had a rich friend named Sylvia. (You have to pronounce it “Seelveyahhhh.”) She was slick and cool. A petite woman, she had bouffant-style black hair that usually had a colorful, thin, rayon-polyester scarf tied over it to protect from the wind flowing through her lavender convertible. Yes, a lavender convertible! Sylvia wore long, red leather gloves with a cigarette wedged between her index and middle fingers when she and my mother drove to auctions all over the great plains.
Sylvia and mom would take off in that outlandish car—wearing their Jackie O sunglasses and scarves—listening to Tom Jones singing “Pussy Cat” on the radio, thinking they were going to get a bargain at an auction when they arrived in that Expensive. Car. Wearing. Haute Couture. Imitating a fabulously wealthy First Lady! Haha! I’m sure the farmers saw them from a mile away and immediately agreed among themselves to bid up the highfalutin’ Jackie-O-wannabees.
Like aliens who landed in a corn field, Mom and Sylvia chatted up the farmers, ate sloppy Joe’s and drank coffee (spiked with God-knows-what) then got a rush out of raising their hands or tipping up their chins to bid on old shit that the farmers were happy to get rid of. I’m sure they overpaid, but it’s all relative, right? Everybody won that day. (You don’t need Obama tax policy for wealth redistribution. Bored wives and alcohol can do that.)
After a long day of driving fast and buying “antiques,” mom and Sylvia met their husbands at the supper club for martinis and a steak dinner. Maria Muldaur sang “Midnight at the Oasis” over the speakers. Groovy music. Groovy times.
I also recall coming home from school one day per month to a house full of women playing bridge—the card game. Not just ordinary bridge, but duplicate bridge, so they could evaluate each partnership regardless of the cards dealt. (They rotated through the tables playing the same hands.) It’s actually a fun game, but there’s a steep learning curve and quite a bit of strategy involved. I remember hearing that more than one couple divorced over an evening bridge game.
A memory pathway for me is music, and I can recall the music my mother played in the living room during afternoon bridge—Bert Kaempfert and his orchestra. Listen to the first few minutes of the below YouTube video. When going down memory lane for this post, I realized I have this entire album memorized. Can you imagine the trauma of getting home from school to a living room full of middle-aged women playing cards, smoking, drinking martinis in coffee mugs, and listening to this music? Yes. You read that correctly. They disguised their martinis in coffee mugs. LIKE WE ALL DIDN’T KNOW ANYWAY?!
After greeting my mother and dutifully appearing for the bridge players, I was expected to retreat quickly and eat the snacks my mother had prepared for me—homemade chocolate cake or apple pie—and watch Gilligan’s Island, Hogan’s Heroes and/or Bewitched until the bridge tribe left our house in their behemoth cars, unbelted, and a little drunk. It’s a miracle I didn’t become a beach bum hippy after witnessing all this nonsense. Oh, that’s right, I did. Someone help me find my coffee mug–the white one with #FabulousAsFuck written in red on the side.