I never knew that eating could be such a difficult thing to do. Eating the so-called ''right way,'' anyway.
It's my fault, I know. I sorta, kinda forgot to exercise for a day or two. Or possibly the last three years. I forget which. It's so hard to tell about that sort of thing.
Then I happened upon a business offering fresh, warm, wondrously gooey chocolate-chip cookies, three for a dollar. Oh. My.
I suppose the reason I didn't notice the gravitational increase was due to the significant lightening of my pockets. The weight exchange canceled itself out. For a while. Until my ''big pants'' shrank a tad or two.
Next thing I knew, somebody pushed me onto a set of bathroom scales - possibly my wife, but again, it's so hard to tell about that sort of thing. I looked down. Well, stepped back and bent way over, really. I never saw that number before. I never learned to count that high.
It was time to do something. I suggested going for a three-pack of cookies, but that, I was informed, wasn't what I wanted to do. I had been sure it was. It's so hard to tell about that sort of thing.
I found myself signed up for the Tribune Chronicle / St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Fitness Challenge weight loss competition to benefit charity.
''It will benefit more than charity,'' the Voice of Reason said. ''It will benefit you. Also, we can't afford to buy you new clothes.''
''A pack of chocolate cupcakes with the filling sure would help my motivation,'' I reasoned.
The Voice of Reason resounded in my head: ''It would not. Eat a pear. You'll be so much happier.''
It can be tough being married to the Voice of Reason. She harbors a bundle of crackpot theories about nutrition.
I bit into the pear. I nibbled a little further. I held the pear up to the light and studied it from all angles.
''Where's the cream filling?'' I squinted at the fruit. ''How can it be nutritious if there's no cream filling?''
''That's why it's nutritious,'' the Voice of Reason said.
''Really? I thought that's where all the vitamins and proteins and stuff were stored.''
It's so hard to tell about that sort of thing.
''Let me fix you a nice, hot bowl of steel-cut rolled oats,'' the Voice of Reason said. ''It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.''
''My cholesterol's fine.''
''Your blood pressure's up.''
''Of course it's up. I get cranky without chocolate chips and cream filling.''
My blood pressure dipped and my hopes soared when the Voice of Reason passed me a chip dip holder.
''Where's the dip?'' I asked.
The Voice of Reason locked onto my eyes before shaking her head. ''Nope, too easy. Just eat your celery stick.''
''Eat it? C'mon, I've been to parties. This is the green scoop thingy the hosts fill with peanut butter, chip dip and creamy goodness. You suck the filling out of the middle, then dig into the chip dip bowl for more.''
''You've never eaten a celery stick?''
''I didn't even know that sort of thing was supposed to be edible.'' I nibbled at an edge. ''Needs sugar.''
''It does not!''
So far, I've lost five pounds. I know where I can find them again, but the Voice of Reason sounds more and more unreasonable every time I suggest a trip to the cookie store.
I wonder if I should suggest that she have some oatmeal for her blood pressure. It's so hard to tell about that sort of thing.
---- Follow the exploits of the Fitness Challenge on Tuesdays in the Tribune Chronicle. Send Burt cookies at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.