Monday, April 28, 2008

The sexes and the scales of injustice

Published April 21, 2008

"I'm just calling to remind you of your appointment tomorrow."
I regularly get that phone reminder from three places: My hairdresser, my doctor and my dentist.
I don't mind getting those calls from the hairdresser. They just give me a chance to look forward to a couple hours of pampering and girl-talk. The only stressful thing about hair appointments is worrying whether I have enough money in my account to cover the cost of them.
Oh, but that same reminder message from the doctor's or dentist's office ... gulp! Panic and dread.
I guess everyone dreads the dentist, and that's unfortunate because, think about it, when is the last time your dentist hurt you? Actually, if anything, it's the other way around. You hurt, and he makes it stop hurting. But it's just the sound of that drill and all that poking and prodding that goes on. Not quite the same as looking forward to getting your hair shampooed or your toenails painted.
And then there is the appointment reminder from the doctor's office, the call that trumps the others as the King of Dread - and the one I got last week.
Why is it so scary to go to the doctor?
Because the doctor does something that neither the dentist nor the hairdresser does. He weighs me. Well, he doesn't weigh me; his capable assistant does. But those numbers she sees on the scale are recorded in my file and the file is handed over to the doctor.
And then he opens up the file and looks at it - and it's time to face the music.
On the rare occasion those numbers from the scale are smaller than the ones she handed him the last time I was in his office, life is good. He's proud of me and he tells me so. I feel as if I just told my dad I got all A's in school.
But, oh brother, if those numbers got bigger, I feel as a dog must feel when he gets caught ripping up the garbage.
Sometimes when the doctor's receptionist calls to remind me of my appointment, I ask her if I can reschedule it for next week, the thought being that I will eat like a bird and exercise like a horse until then.
Of course, I never do that, but who lets past behavior influence renewed resolve? Not me.
In the midst of all this irrational getting-weighed-at-the-doctor dread, I read about a study that was done by researchers at the University of North Carolina.
It seems that some women are so self-conscious about their weight that they put off really important doctor business like cancer screenings. It seems not all doctors tuck their scales away in a corner as mine does. Some are in high-traffic areas and the women are ashamed.
The study also found that some of these obese women are afraid that the hospital gown they are given to put on will be too small.
Men don't act like that. They weigh what they weigh - good, bad or indifferent.
A co-worker participating in the newspaper's version of "The Biggest Loser" was actually going around the newsroom looking for heavy objects to put in his pockets before the initial weigh-in.
He didn't care what the scale said. He just wanted to weigh-in heavy so that the next time he was asked to step on the scale - pockets empty - it would look as if he lost weight.
And he probably would have gotten away with it, too.
If only he would have filled his pockets with teeny little iron pellets instead of big old office staplers.

Homework not the only thing dogs eat

Published April 14, 2008

"I'll be a little late coming to work," a co-worker told me when she called one recent afternoon.
"My dog ate an ant trap, and I don't want to leave him alone," she explained.
"Your dog ate an ant trap?" I asked, a little alarmed.
"Yeah, he seems to be all right, but you wouldn't believe what I had to go through.
"I wanted to make him eat salt so he would throw up - but I couldn't catch him," she said.
She finally got him, but only after enlisting the aid of her 4-year-old daughter.
It seems some of them will eat anything, no matter how pampered and well-fed they are.
According to what I've read, this eating of non-food items can be either a medical or a behavioral problem. I guess that means you should take your dog to the vet to make sure there isn't a reason he feels the need to eat socks or rocks - or ant traps. If there isn't, you just have yourself a bad dog.
A friend of mine once had to rush her dog to the 24-hour (very expensive) animal emergency room in the middle of the night because her dog was having seizures. Thinking he may have been poisoned, the vet pumped his stomach only to find it full of Styrofoam packing "peanuts."
No, the dog wasn't being mailed anywhere, but I have a feeling my friend fantasized about it once she got over worrying that he was going to die.
The bearded collie we once had ate the light bulbs out of a bunch of those electric candlesticks that we had put in our windows at Christmas time. He must have gone from window to window like Wee Willie Winkie when we weren't looking.
That was the last Christmas we had candles in our windows.
Sophie, our late and beloved Old English sheepdog, had such a sweet tooth that she didn't let things like wrappers or plastic Easter grass stand in the way when she could smell chocolate.
One Halloween, my husband went to grab the bowl of candy bars off the coffee table for the trick-or-treaters at the door but found it was empty. Sophie had eaten them all.
Unfortunately, we forgot that had happened the following Easter when the bunny left a basket full of chocolates on the floor. Sophie licked it clean, Easter grass and all.
So, anyway, back to the ingestion of the ant trap. As my co-worker talked to me, I typed "dog ate ant trap" into the Google search. I read about a lot of dogs that had eaten ant traps and lived to shed another day.
Actually, it looked as if dogs could eat just about anything without it killing them.
I found stories of dogs that had eaten underwear (that seems to be a favorite) and shoes of all kinds, especially flip-flops. They ate stones and loofah sponges, ropes and string, chains and knives. I was surprised to find that my dog wasn't the only one to eat light bulbs. In fact, they seem to be a popular non-food item among dogs.
My co-worker's husband finally got home to spell her on poison watch, and she came to work.
"Well?" I asked her.
"Oh, he's fine. The vet said the trap was so old it probably wasn't even poisonous anymore," she said.
I guess she should be thankful he's not one of the "gourmet" hounds I read about.
Those dogs wouldn't look twice at an ant trap. They only eat expensive things like iPods or Uggs boots, or even whole couches.
Kind of makes me glad I have a cat.
He won't eat anything.