I presented two talks at a conference on Preventive Medicine in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, and awoke the first morning to discover that my black tights had not made it into the suitcase. This did not jive with my plans to present myself as a black-tights-wearing professional. Ugh. Shortly thereafter, at approximately 6 o’clock in the morning, I left my hotel room in search of a new pair of black tights.
The first place I stopped was at the sundry store near the entrance to the hotel. Two friendly women directed me to the pantyhose, and I was delighted to see a large display of stockings in all the usual colors.
So here’s what you need to know about me: I am small. Really quite small. Think of me as the Dr. Ruth of Food. If I stand up very, very straight I can claim that I am 5 feet tall. Nearly. Most of my clothing is size 4 or 6. I hope you’re getting the picture.
Back in the store, I began to scan the stockings for a pair of Size A black stockings. To no avail. To my rising horror, there were no A size stockings at all. Just B and Q. I am obviously not a Q, and the B’s were a long shot. I turned back to the shop clerks, a feeling of panic beginning to rise in the back of my throat, and asked whether I might be missing the size A stockings. They recommended I try the Walgreens across the street. I ran out of the shop.
But there were no size A black stockings in the large display across the street either. Well, that’s not exactly true: There were two pairs of size A “nude” stockings on the bottom shelf in the back. I didn’t want nude. I was looking for black stockings.
As you may already have surmised, this post isn’t really about stockings. It’s about size. The size of Americans, to be more specific. Is it really okay with you that Americans have grown so large that some stores no longer see a need to carry size A stockings? Is that okay with you? Of course it isn’t. And this post isn’t about stockings.
This is a post about enormity of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, gout and arthritis, heart disease and strokes, and all the associated diseases, including a whole bunch of different types of cancer, most notably breast, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancers. It’s about growing old and infirm instead of old and vibrant. Because if there are no size A stockings in a major drug store chain, then we’d better be prepared to spend a lot more money on medications, cardiac bypass operations, dialysis, and nursing homes. We’d better be ready to spend our days as caregivers to parents with dementia brought on by long years of poor nutrition and inactivity.
I don’t know about you, but it sure is not okay with me.
Here’s how the story ended. I left Walgreens carrying a little bag with a pair of B-sized stockings, which bagged slightly around my ankles. A little while later, as I related the story to a small group of friends, I was serendipitously rescued by a colleague’s daughter, who had coincidentally purchased an extra pair of Size A black stockings the previous afternoon at a local outlet. The stars lined up that day. But next time I’d rather not leave it to chance.