Home alone part II
by Debbie Carini
As I set out to write this column, I tried to save it in my computer but the system warned me that I already had a document called Home Alone. It was a column I had written in April 2011, about being on my own, without my family, for a week.
Well, I’ve just experienced another home alone adventure and wanted to share some insights about this 7-day sojourn; I figured, if movies can have sequels (even prequels), why not columns?
The last time I was on my own, I ruminated a lot about being by myself. This time I thought I would turn the experience into a healthy, positive venture by viewing it as a week-long health camp!
On the first day of said experiment, I went to the store and loaded up on low-calorie frozen food. I figured I could emulate a spa treatment (where, over the course of an expensive stay, tiny portions are rationed out to thin, rich people trying to be even thinner) by serving myself pre-measured, pre-cooked meals.
On day 2, I ate a 100-calorie frozen breakfast pocket—a crispy shell with something oozy and yellow inside (I try not to look, just consume). For lunch I ate a high-fiber, low-cholesterol Santa Fe-style rice and beans meal which seemed to me to be lacking something—a certain crunch factor—so I added a few tortilla chips to scoop up the gloppy mess. I was off to a good start (except for the 20 or so tortilla chips I used in place of a fork). I congratulated myself and drove back to work envisioning my final meal of the day: 270-calorie Swedish meatballs with noodles and gravy, ala eating at the cafeteria at Ikea (which is actually pretty good, especially something called lingonberry sauce—and who doesn’t like to combine eating and shopping?)
On day 3, I ate the other frozen breakfast pocket and a nourishing frozen lunch called 5-Grain Beef and Vegetables because, going over the diet, I realized I hadn’t eaten a green, red or yellow piece of produce in 48 hours. I was fully set to sup on 300-calorie turkey and mashed potatoes (somewhat reminiscent of the “turkey” dinner served in the school cafeteria on the day before Thanksgiving) when my mother called to offer a home-cooked meal of meatballs and spaghetti, Italian bread and salad and sherbet for dessert. Needless to say, day 3 kind of wiped out whatever progress was made on days one and 2.
By day 5, I was starting to feel like an astronaut, consuming so many meals that were perfectly rationed and wrapped in plastic that I eagerly jumped at my sister’s invitation to go out to dinner and then shopping. After several hours of “junktiquing” (looking for treasures in thrift stores), she was thirsty and pulled into a fast-food drive-thru to purchase a drink. We were several cars back but I could vaguely make out the lighted menu where I saw “Ice Cream Sundae: 1.10/3.30.”
A sundae that was only $1.10 didn’t seem like it could possibly have enough chocolate sauce or a cherry, so I told my sister to order me and my mom, who was also in the car, the $3.30 size. Within a few seconds, a crackly voice came back through the intercom, “Um, ma’am, 330 is the calorie count of the sundae.”
I crouched down in the seat as we approached the window to pay, sure that the entire crew was waiting to see what extra-large person needed the super-sized sundae. And as we drove off into the night, soft-serve vanilla perfectly capping the day, my mother shared some news. She’d heard about a new way to lose weight—pure green coffee bean capsules (she’d seen it on Dr. Oz)—and I thought, well, maybe I’ll try that…next time I’m home alone!