Want one of my rings?” my husband asked.
“No thanks. I’m off wheat,” I replied.
“It’s an onion ring, not a burger.”
“Not meat. Wheat. I’m off wheat.”
“Of course you are. Weed makes you stupid.”
“Could you be anymore deaf? Not weed, WHEAT! You know, amber waves of grain?”
He popped the onion ring in his mouth, his brow furrowed.
“You’re gluten intolerant now?”
“No,” I said, matter-of-factly. “I’m reading a book called ‘Wheat Belly.’”
“Oh, God. Here we go ... ”
“It’s written by a cardiologist who says cutting out wheat can reverse diabetes and high blood pressure, even slow down aging. Did you know the glycemic index of wheat is 12 points higher than sugar? AND modern wheat isn’t the same wheat we ate when we were kids. Today’s wheat has been engineered to be addictive, just like tobacco. Why do you think we can polish off a bread basket in 10 minutes flat?”
“So, you’re giving up sandwiches and pasta? Lasagna? Pad thai? That’s your go-to crisis food.”
“Yep,” I said, munching on my crouton-free salad with vinaigrette dressing. “It’s all about getting rid of the visceral fat. It’ll kill you, you know. You’d be amazed at how many foods have wheat in them. Your ranch dressing, for instance. Even beer.”
“You’re off beer?! I don’t know you, anymore,” he said, in dead earnest.
There was a pregnant pause as he bit into another crispy, deep-fat-fried “o.”
“What about Scotch? You’re not giving up your Scotch, are you?” He was obviously concerned at the prospect of me without the sedating effects of my evening cocktail, with two months of winter ahead.
“The blended stuff has wheat,” I explained. “Single malt’s OK, but it’s too expensive. I’ll be all right. Don’t worry.”
We continued to eat in silence. I could tell he was formulating an argument. A defense, if you will, of his wheat-full existence.
“OK,” he said, finally. “On a scale of one to 10, how committed are you to this ‘Wheat Belly’ thing?”
“Definitely a 10,” I answered without hesitation. “I’m all in.”
“And what was the number on, say, that diet from Duke you were all gaga about last year?”
‘Six. Seven, tops,” I retorted, knowing full well where he was going.
“And the Sonoma Diet? South Beach? What about that thing when you drank a quart of apple cider a day?
“Eight. Seven? And, it wasn’t a quart; it was 2 tablespoons. But it’s different this time...”
“How about that crazy meditation kick you were on when you’d bang a gong for an hour every morning? Or that menopause hoo-ha from the chick on the show from the ’70s. The blonde bimbo?”
“It’s called mindful meditation. That was a five,” I sighed. “Her name is Suzanne Somers, and they were bio-identical hormones, thank you very much.”
“SHE SELLS THEM ON QVC!” he cried.
“IT’S SHOP NBC, FOR YOUR INFORMATION!!”
Several burger-joint patrons turned to stare.
“All I’m saying is, you’ve been down this lonesome road before. I’m completely supportive of you improving your health, but you’re not a drastic-measures kind of gal.”
I took another mouthful of romaine.
“It’s not that drastic. It’s just giving up wheat,” I said.
“So no toast and honey with your tea on snowy Sundays?”
“No enchiladas on Cinco de Mayo? No carrot cake on your birthday?”
“It won’t be that bad,” I insisted.
He snarfed another onion ring, wiped the beer batter flakes off his beard and took my hands.
“OK. Then I’m all in with you,” he said.
“You’ll go off wheat too?” I asked incredulously. “That’s fantastic! Because you’ve got a little visceral situation going on yourself...”
“Hell no,” he laughed. “But I promise not to tempt you. Like with this last onion ring, for instance.”
(Was I starting to drool? I distinctly detected salivation.)
“And I won’t complain when you make dinner and there’s no penne or crescent rolls or stuffing on the plate,” my spouse added.
(Oh my God, no stuffing?!?! I never thought of that.)
“You’re a prince of a guy.”
We finished our meals without more ado and climbed into the car.
“So, I guess the cupcake place is out of the question,” he said.
(Did he say cupcake? How bad would one mini-carrot with orange frosting be?)
I sighed deeply. A lump formed in my throat.
“No, but swing by the liquor store. I’ve always wanted to try single malt.”