Brontë Continues Her Food Mining Operations; Carrots Threaten to Topple John’s Workplace Authority

Bunnies make terrible managers.
Bunnies make terrible managers.

Whenever I make Brontë a quesadilla for lunch, she expertly removes every trace of cheese, leaving a tortilla husk. Can’t quite bring myself to serve her a plate of melted cheese, though it would save us both some time. She views the tortilla as a wrapper for cheese, much as she views a croissant as a visually-appealing wrapper for melted chocolate.

In related news, my husband just said he is not going to buy another bag of baby carrots at the store tonight because it might give him a fart attack.

In his ongoing battle to shed his (food) baby weight, he is trying to bring healthier snacks to work. Cubicle life is rough for healthy eating. People constantly bring in doughnuts, brownies, and assorted homemade treats. Office buildings don’t tend to be well ventilated, so the appealing scents of sugar-laden foodstuffs tend to swarm the dreary scene like floaty cartoon demons beckoning you to savor naughty goods.

Even if you can resist the appeal, there is still a lot of social pressure to participate. Not eating with every one else can make you look like less of a team player. I think it’s tribal. For example, at my last state job (before I quit to stay home with the kiddos), we had a weekly meeting that always involved a giant box of doughnuts that would be passed around the circle until it was emptied. I got a lot of crap from my coworkers for only eating ONE doughnut.

I had taken the one doughnut partly so I wouldn’t look like the uptight girl on a diet that was  probably secretly judging everyone and possibly had an eating disorder and likely shouldn’t be entrusted with any valuable projects. When the box made the rounds a second time, I quietly passed it to my neighbor when the guy who had been talking about software updates (I was in IT) suddenly stopped and said, “That’s all you’re gonna eat?”

Everyone stopped an stared at me as I shuffled around, trying to come up with excuses for not eating more doughnuts. “Yeah,” I said, “I’m trying to eat a little healthier.”

A couple coworkers rolled their eyes as someone else piped up with “But you’re not fat!” I shuffled around uncomfortably, wondering why I had to make excuses for not eating multiple pastries and wanting to shout out, “But I WILL get fat if I eat a bunch of doughnuts all the time!” I couldn’t say that, though, because then it looks like I’m shaming everyone else for eating doughnuts and I could give a crap how many doughnuts anyone else eats. I just didn’t want to outgrow my clothes and would rather spend my forbidden food points on stuff like beer, cheese and pizza than a bunch of pastries.

It didn’t end there. Yet another coworker started in with, “She never eats the brownies or cookies.” See, you know how people tend to bring big platters of brownies or cookies to work and leave them out for everyone to share? People like to put those on my desk, and I don’t tend to eat them. I guess people noticed.

“Well,” I explained, “I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth. I’m more into fatty stuff like nachos and cheese.” My coworkers considered this for a moment, decided it was an acceptable response, and went back to discussing software updates. Whew!

When I walked to my cubicle the next morning, guess what was sitting on my desk? A giant platter of nachos and cheese, hand-delivered by the but-you’re-not-fat coworker. It was very sweet of him, but also a little bizarre. I’m not underweight, so why did my coworkers believe  it was so critical that I get more to eat? Sigh… I picked at the nachos all day to reassure my coworkers that I didn’t have an eating disorder and business as usual resumed.

Back to John’s office. He has no problem convincing his coworkers that he wants to partake in the culinary bounty and they find him rather amusing. He will swoop by, again and again, to shave off another sliver of cake or discuss the new servers while swiping yet another brownie from the platter. Someone regularly brings in something called “Señorita Bread,” that John finds absolutely irresistible. “I can’t stop eating it!” he will report, “It’s some ind of cornbread made with honey and butter and cinnamon and, I don’t know… it’s crazy good. I ate about half of it today. I need to get the recipe from them so you can try it!”

Why would I want that recipe!? Lost the baby weight so I can… leave butter-soaked honey bread around the house? “Nah, I’m good,” I tell him as he rolls his eyes at me.

Sheesh. So, John has recently hit his threshold/rock bottom lately, which for him is the point where he has to either cut back or buy the next belt size up. In order to better combat workplace food peril, he tries to bring healthier snacks to keep himself full. He likes baby carrots. He will buy bags of them and munch on them all day at work. I keep advising him to pair his carrots with some hummus or other dipping sauce that includes some fat and protein (to keep him better satiated), but he’s tired of my nagging and stomps out the door each morning with his bare carrots as if to tell me I can keep my damn hummus because a real man eats his carrots naked.

He loves his carrots, but there’s one problem: they give him a ridiculous amount of gas. He has come home from a carrot binge and repeatedly been angrily sent to the other end of the house until his insides calm down.

This has led to a couple embarrassing incidents at work. One time, he was listening to his iPod when another coworker started a conversation with him. John felt a fart about to escape but figured it was going to be quiet, so he slowly let it go… He fumbled to turn off his music as he was talking and suddenly heard the thunderous sounds of his bowels vibrating through conversation. His coworker waited till it was over, then resumed conversation as though nothing had happened.

Another time, John got to work early and saw that his cubicle patch was empty. Good time to let one rip, he thought, and released a long, slow fart. Just then, a coworker popped her head up from her desk (apparently, she had been digging into a bottom drawer) and said, “good morning!” Not the best way to start your workday.

I’m impressed that everyone at John’s work can keep such straight faces and play off farts so expertly. I’m positive that if a coworker of mine accidentally ripped one, I would be in absolute hysterics. I would be wiping tears off my face and trying not to point.

At any rate, the carrot fart situation does not appear to be improving and John is at a loss about what to do. I think his body will eventually calm down as it adjusts to a higher amount of fiber, but he (reasonably) is not sure he can withstand the adjustment period. It’s hard to maintain your authority at work when your butt says more than you do.

In the meantime, Brontë is feasting on melted cheese, Bridget is eating everything that isn’t nailed down, and John is trying his best not to blow the house up.

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