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March 5, 2008

The Problem of 35

Filed under: American Food,Dieting,Food and Fashion,Take Out — Mr. Henry @ 10:05 am


At age 35 the male metabolism changes. Between 35 and 40 Mr. Henry gained two pounds per year. At his annual check-up he asked his physician what to do. Dr. K’s immortal reply was “Quit eating!”

Clearly this is sound medical advice, but as in financial, political, and sexual matters, sound advice is difficult to follow.

Today Mr. Henry faces another problem of 35. Blue jeans are manufactured in graduated sizes of 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34-inch waist. After 34 comes 36.

The problem of 35 is that it isn’t there.

Faced with a sinister plot, Mr. Henry’s mind, unlike the darker minds of political reporters, federal prosecutors, and religious fanatics, does not immediately leap to conspiracy for a solution.

Regarding the problem of 35, however, hearsay evidence points to a world-wide conspiracy of skinny fashionistas – black-clad eaters of take-out salads with creamy dressing, spicy tuna rolls, Thai peanut noodles, and cheese-flavored corn chips, all of which are secretly laced with MSG.


Their collective goal is to prevent gracefully aging men from wearing the one worldwide signature garment of youth – blue jeans that fit.

When walking to the dog run Mr. Henry dons a ancient pair of 34’s unwashed since late 2007. Rips at knees and cuffs are not a deliberate style statement. The fabric is spontaneously shredding and simply will not withstand the rigors of a washing machine.

His replacement 34’s will not yet yield to the fundamental argument, and Mr. Henry refuses on principle to buy a pair of 36’s.

Thus diet dominates life. Like a train wreck, the expanded waistline collides with the blue jeans which in turn degrade personal hygiene and shatter self-respect. Not just the jeans lie in tatters.


The solution? Mr. Henry’s Dietary Dicta prescribe no carbohydrates at dinner. It seems he must cease playing by winter rules and face 35 days of fasting in the desert, or at least 35 days of fasting without dessert.


  1. Indeed, I have the same problem with my preferred inseam being 29.

    Comment by mkb — March 5, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  2. I’m afraid this happens to those of us of the other sex. I’ve had to restrict myself to no more than 1200 calories per day and at least four hours of exercise per week.

    Comment by Little Red — March 5, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  3. May I suggest Banana Republic jeans. I buy them for my lovely husband in size 35 X 34. And they look neither too young nor too old.

    Comment by CBOT — March 7, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

  4. The road of low carb is the road of tears, my friend. I have many friends who swear by low carb diets. Many fat friends.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 7, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  5. Yes, yes, but those are fat-binging friends, no doubt.

    Mr. Henry resists carbohydrates only for the evening meal, which is not such a chore, really. And he doesn’t stuff himself during the day, or so he claims.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — March 7, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  6. There is a less painful option available. I stopped wearing jeans altogether sometime in my early twenties.

    Comment by Fccg — March 8, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  7. The Anastasia only skips the carbs for lunch and has a salad or a miso soup instead. So she eats carbs at dinner and bends her knees to the rhythm of Billy’s Bootcamp.
    If she only learned to hate the Ben & Jerry, the chocolate and the Walkers cookies, she’d probably be skinny like The Moss by now.
    But she still looks like the woman of Rubens who loves delicious things.

    Comment by Anastasia — March 9, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  8. I’m sure when Mr. Henry says he avoid carbohydrates at dinner, what he means is, he’s avoiding foods made with flour and sugar. I can’t imagine Mr. Henry eschewing a lovely salad or other delicious vegetables or fruit.


    Low carb diets are the only ones that work for people with damaged insulin metabolisms. I eat a fair amount of carbs but nothing like that in the standard American diet. If I were to eat that way, I’d be a type 2 diabetic by now. Best thing about a good low carb diet is, if you follow it properly, you’re never hungry.

    Comment by Joan H. — March 9, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

  9. Mr. Henry tastes the potatoes for flavor and for joy, but, yes, Joan H., at dinner he eschews the starches and sugars, not the salad, vegetables, fruits, or wine. And he does so not only for waistline reduction but because he sleeps much better without those starches turning to zooming energy at about 2:30 a.m.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — March 9, 2008 @ 7:25 pm

  10. No, Mr. Henry, my friends are not fat bingers: they are people who went on low carb diets, lost water, muscle and fat (because everyone does when the body goes into ketosis) and could not stay on the diet for the rest of their lives, because no-one can. They came back bigger than ever, but because they lost weight during the eight months they stayed on the diets, they all swear it works. Of course, if it really worked for them, they’d still be on it, yes?

    If you are not restricting fruits and vegetables, though, you’re not really “low carb,” at least not enough to impact your pH, which is the whole Atkins thing. I misunderstood you. I, too, have cut back on carbs, not only because I’m not getting younger, but also because I find I naturally take in more vitamins and food nutrients when the main part of my meal is made up of fresh vegetables in one form or another. I also use bean thread noodles instead of pasta a lot, especially in soups.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 10, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

  11. You are quite right, raincoaster. Mr. Henry never drank the Atkins kool-aid. Ketosis sounded to him like a skin condition, one brought on by lack of carbohydrates, perhaps.

    If he were really restricting carbohydrates, as you rightly note he does not, he wouldn’t be enjoying the pinot noir he just opened, either. By the way, bean thread noodles is a new one.

    At the dog run today Mr. Henry heard a novel theory of why we gain weight in winter. The culprit may be SAD, seasonal affective disorder, also known as cabin fever. To compensate for the winter blues, we eat more. Sounds perfectly plausible.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — March 10, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  12. raincoaster, I must say my father has been on Atkins since around year 2000, and he intends to maintain it indefinitely. It is not for me, but a recent health scare (probably stress-related) on my dad’s part had a full battery of tests worked up; his heart, lungs, bloodwork, etc., are all those of a man ten years younger. With diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension in his family, and him being very very overweight, it was pretty imperative that he do something. I still can’t believe that it works for him but it appears to.

    OTOH, when my mother tried (briefly) to go on the diet with him, her blood pressure dropped so much her doctor ordered her off it.

    Comment by TeleriB — March 11, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  13. You think Mr.Henry’s got it tough! I usd to be able to eat a half gallon of ice cream in a week and never gain a pound, but once I turned forty, I couldn’t even take a bite without it showing on the scale. It may be true that life is a bitch, but after forty, life is a bitch on a diet!

    Comment by Deborah Dowd — March 15, 2008 @ 2:20 am

  14. As evidenced by the comments, there are many healthy ways of eating real foods that must be adapted to your own body. For TeleriB’s father, obviously Atkins has been a great thing. It is not for everyone, but I too, know people who have been on Atkins for years and are healthy; they have wisely followed the whole plan (not just the first part) and incorporated good complex carbohydrates back into their diet as they lost weight.

    I find I feel my best when I avoid starches all together, even whole grains, which breaks my heart as my husband is an excellent baker. I get most of my carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables and some legumes. I only indulge in the grains occasionally. My husband, however, feels his best on less animal protein and more grains. Different strokes and all….

    Comment by Eilish — March 15, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  15. I, too, have noticed the lack of 35in-waisted jeans. As a gentleman who was never skinny, though always fit, I can easily feel the bones in my hips but can’t squeeze a pair of 34 jeans around them. Add to this substantial legs and rear from cycling (now I sound like I’m bragging) and the current narrow, low-waist-hipster-jean trend leaves me far behind.

    I’ve found solace in Levi’s button-fly 567, size 36, but they only fit immediately after a hot wash. Sometimes by the end of the day they’re threatening to sag from my waist to my hips or below, and that is one horrific trend I will _never_ participate in.

    Comment by Schorsch — March 18, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

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