Friday, May 20, 2016

The Dreaded Birthday Chicken

My father and I went to Dugan's Pub the other day so I could get my annual celebratory Buffalo chicken sandwich in honor of my upcoming birthday. This isn't a long-standing tradition. I discovered the sandwich somewhere in the last decade and, knowing that eating it on a regular basis would shorten my lifespan, have assigned it formal designation as a birthday treat.

The sandwich is a model of perfection. A full breast of chicken, butterflied, deep fried and Buffalo-ized in an amazing spicy, yet flavorful, red-orange sauce, covered with melted Swiss and served on a bun butch enough to hold up under pressure. Since I was already throwing caution (and several major arteries) to the wind, I went ahead and ordered the beer-battered fries as my side and didn't forget the bleu cheese dressing. It's Buffalo chicken, after all. Any other condiment (with the possible exception of ranch) is un-American.

The end result of eating the Dugan's Pub Buffalo chicken sandwich should come as no surprise. Sensations of burning, bloat and discomfort are immediately visited upon you, and again several hours later when the alien vacates its host body. Sweating, congestion, tears of shame and joy -- all the things you hope for when over-indulging in your favorite flavors and seeking a satisfyingly trough-like experience, leaving you emotionally drained from overwhelming satisfaction and self-loathing.

This year, all the effects were magnified exponentially.

Not only am I growing older, finding myself slightly less capable of tolerating such unbridled over-eating with the passing of each year, My Lovely Wife and I have also been making an effort since the start of 2016 to eat less like hormone-charged teenagers and more like responsible adults interested in meeting our grandchildren. Since January, I've lost close to twenty pounds and dropped two inches from my waistline. Shirts have gone from extra-large to large and I'm as close to not having a pot belly as I've been since graduating high school. While we have cut back on certain foods (I'm looking at you, breads and starches!) and reintroduced ourselves to daily portions of fruits of vegetables, the biggest factor for me has been portion control.

Left to my own devices, I'd eat and nibble and pick and peck and nosh and munch and crunch all day long on all the things I know I shouldn't be eating. Then, I'd sit down to a table three times a day and stuff myself. Even during past diets, I'd replace pretzels and chips with apples and carrots, yet I'd still cram those healthy items down my pie hole like a starved hyena gulping down a baby gazelle. This time around, I'm taking it seriously. Meal portions are reasonable, snacking is down to a bare minimum, water consumption could flood a small Texas town, exercise is more strategic, and foods and sundry ingredients are chosen with greater care.

Which is exactly why Dugan's Buffalo chicken sandwich and beer-battered fries were such a delicious, spice-coated, deep-fried offense to the senses. I've always known fries weren't good for me, but this was the first time in 48 years I could recall ever wishing I had ordered the broccoli florets or fruit cup instead. Not that the fries weren't awesome -- they were, and I ate every last one. Not that the chicken sandwich didn't meet my expectations -- it did, and I smiled and snorted all the way through it and went home with a red-orange tint around my mouth and finger tips. It's just that I was uncomfortably full for several hours.

You might be wondering what lesson I learned from this experience. As I'm fairly dim, with a memory that can be measured in nanoseconds, the answer is: probably none. Next May, I'll go to Dugan's Pub and order another Buffalo chicken sandwich. I might think about a healthy side, but that insanity will pass before the waitress arrives to take my order.



© 2016 Mark Feggeler

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