Chick Wit | The frequent-flier diet, effective, expensive (and deadly?)

Posted: April 01, 2007

I'm on the greatest diet in the world. I'm losing weight like nobody's business and I don't even exercise. All I do is sit on my butt and eat everything that's put in front of me, no matter what time of day or night. The only drawback to this diet is that it's incredibly expensive. It's the frequent-flier diet.

Frequent fliers are the only people with any shot at losing weight, because airplane food is the only real portion control. I've been flying all over recently, on a book tour, and have lost almost 10 pounds in three weeks. In one cross-country flight, five hours in duration, the most I got to eat was two bags of peanut-and-sesame things. The total for the peanut grossness was only 80 calories. Plus the little silver bags are impossible to open, since they're made of Mylar from the toughest party balloons ever, or maybe NASA space suits. All that struggling with the bag increases your metabolism, so you get to factor that in, too.

With my peanuts, I usually drink Diet Sprite, which has zero calories, including complimentary preservatives. Sometimes I get up the nerve to demand the whole can of diet Sprite, even though I only paid $1,200 for it. One flight, I kept hoping they'd serve actual food, so I tried to get the attention of the flight attendant, to ask her. But she was too busy griping with another flight attendant about how much they hated their jobs. At one point, the copilot came out of the cockpit and he joined in the griping. I'm not making this up. I heard every word, and all of my senses were on high alert on account of my advanced stage of malnutrition.

See where I'm going with this? All I have to do is keep flying around, and $50,000 later I'll be at goal weight.

I know you're thinking I should plan ahead like all the other grown-ups and bring food on board, but I had connections to make and didn't have the time for a supermarket sweep of the food court at Terminal B. I was starving when I got on one late-morning flight, where the people around me were scarfing down "Philly cheesesteaks" from the Atlanta airport. You can imagine how hungry I was that I wanted one. In fact, I would have settled for sucking the ketchup packets. But the guy next to me, who hadn't had lunch either, solved the problem another way. He ordered two vodkas - "a double."

Yikes.

OK, to be honest with you, I thought the man was attractive - until he asked for his double. And then, I admit, I decided there was something wrong with him. What is it about being in the air that makes people think it's OK to drink two vodkas before noon? Wasn't he embarrassed? And of course I'm speculating wildly (welcome to my column), but I have to believe that a man drinking that much that early wasn't having his first snort of the day.

Then I started to wonder if he was going to be driving home after this short flight, on two vodkas and a sesame stick.

A few days later, I read a news report about a man from Santa Fe, N.M., who had been drinking on a US Airways flight and drove home drunk. The man steered his pickup onto the wrong side of a highway, where he collided with a minivan and killed four of five members of a family who were coming home from a soccer tournament.

Of course it wasn't Double Vodka Guy. It didn't have to be. Every day, all over the country, airlines have stopped serving food on planes, because it costs them money. But they're more than happy to serve hard liquor, because it makes them money. Obviously, something has to be done.

You can't have it both ways.


Lisa Scottoline is a best-selling novelist, most recently of "Daddy's Girl." She can be reached at www.scottoline.com.

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