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Added: 21 September 1999

Busy Mr. Stupid

There once was a man who was so busy that he hated eating meals. "What a waste of time," he would think, resenting every bite.

He would try different things to use mealtime more effectively. First, he would read the newspaper over breakfast. Over lunch, he would make a shopping list. At dinnertime, he would watch the news on television. Still, he was not satisfied. He knew deep down that he was still wasting time.

One Sunday he had a brilliant idea. "If I could eat all my meals in one day, I could save lots of time by not cooking during the week. Think of all the work I could do then!"

Right away he started cooking a huge feast. Seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and seven dinners in one day. He scrambled fourteen eggs, fried up fourteen sausages, toasted fourteen pieces of bread, and gobbled them down with fourteen cups of coffee and fourteen glasses of orange juice. By the end of the giant meal, he was slowing down and near to bursting. But he satisfied himself in the knowledge that he had enough hearty breakfasts for the whole week inside him, all in only one day.

By the time he finished breakfast, it was nearly lunchtime. "Can't stop now," he thought. "I've got the whole week to think of."

Taking a deep breath, he stood up and went slowly to the larder. "Sandwiches," he thought, seizing a loaf of bread. He immediately set about building a sandwich of gigantic proportions.

First came a layer of pastrami and dill pickle, on a thinly spread bed of mayonnaise and mustard. Then it was bologna and gorgonzola cheese. Next came a layer of tuna salad and sprouts. Then, in order, it was peanut butter and jelly; coronation chicken; corned beef, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing; and finally, cream cheese and plump black olives. "Seven layers for seven days," he thought smugly. He wasn't the least bit hungry, but he stubbornly pushed the whole sandwich into his mouth, bite by determined bite. As the last mouthful forced its way down his gullet, he emitted a low groan, and stumbled from the kitchen.

"I need a nap," he thought.

When he woke up several hours later, it was dinnertime. He felt awful, but he was not about to swerve from his plan. If he could eat seven dinners now, the whole week would be free. Setting his jaw, he strode purposefully back into the kitchen. From the refrigerator, he took out two whole chickens and three T-bone steaks. Turning to the pantry, he fetched five potatoes, a couple of onions, and a healthy handful of brussels sprouts. "Hmmm," he mused before grabbing a sack of turtle beans. "That should do it," he said grandiloquently.

He turned on every bit of the cooker. All the burners on the stove were burning, and the oven was fired up on full. Even the microwave was called into duty, for the potatoes. While everything was cooking he washed the dishes. "I won't be wasting my time doing any of this during the week," he grinned.

Now came the hard part. He was less hungry than he'd ever been in his life, and he was facing his biggest meal yet. Remembering the week of freedom ahead, however, he entered into battle with his dinner with all the gusto he could muster. It was pretty slow going, but he refused to leave the table, and by midnight his plate, though cold, was nearly empty. After one deep breath and one powerful belch, he defeated the final forkful with some determined and scornful chewing. "That's me set for the week," he groaned, proud and bloated.

The next morning went rather well. He felt neither hungry nor stuffed, and with no breakfast to prepare, he was able to read the entire newspaper, cover to cover. He went to work feeling more fully informed than he had ever been. At lunchtime, when all his co-workers went off to find something to eat, he instead took the opportunity to clean his desk of clutter, organize his files, and update his Rolodex. By the time his co-workers came back from lunch, he was able to view them with a feeling of well-earned smug superiority. Come dinnertime, he was feeling just a little bit hungry, but he refused even to enter the kitchen. Instead, he settled into his chair in the den, and wrote a long letter of complaint to the newspaper concerning the state of the city's sewage system, and a brief note to his mother, which read as follows:

Dear Mom,

Thought I'd just sit down and say hello, since I have a bit of time at the moment, thanks to having already had dinner, yesterday. How are you? I am fine. Well, talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Your son,

By the next morning, the hunger was beginning to make itself clear. He furtively glanced at his box of cereal in the cupboard, but he narrowed his eyes and stubbornly refused to consider the matter any further. Picking up his newspaper, he found it just a little hard to concentrate on the headlines, and angrily turned past the recipe of the day, which seemed to leap off the page at him in a most annoying fashion. All morning at the office his stomach rumbled, a minor aggravation that he assumed would pass in time. At lunchtime, he thought about starting a novel that he had been interested in reading for some time, but found he was not in the mood. Instead, he examined his files to make extra sure they were properly organized, and looked out of his window at all the people wasting time getting lunch.

The afternoon was a washout. He was having a great deal of difficulty concentrating on his work, and spent most of his time trying to avoid thinking about how hungry he was getting. Unfortunately, the harder he tried not to think about food, the larger it loomed, until silly thoughts like this desk has nothing to do with food began to dominate his mind.

On his way home from work he thought about what he wanted to do with his free dinnertime period. The possibilities should have seemed endless, but he felt oddly short on enthusiasm, and ended up mowing the lawn and feeling vaguely bitter. At bedtime he consoled himself and his hollow belly with reassuring thoughts about efficiency.

By the fifth day, things were getting pretty dire. He struggled in to work and flopped into his chair, and did little but stare slack-jawed at the walls. When he was invited by several co-workers to lunch, he snapped at them, saying "No! I'm too busy! Thank you no!"

All day Saturday he laid on the couch, overcome by lethargy. All he could do was think about tomorrow. Sunday. Food day. By evening, concerned at his lack of productivity, he dragged himself up and set about the long-delayed task of organizing his stamp collection. He had barely gotten as far as opening the heavy collection book, however, when he fainted, face-first right into a series of Alderney 150th Anniversary stamps celebrating the Channel Islands' only working railway.

When he woke up, it was Sunday, and there were "Garrison Island" stamps celebrating the railway's role in fortifying Alderney stuck all over the left side of his face. "Fuck this!" he realized. "I've been such a fool!"

He enjoyed his meals much more after that, and gave up stamp collecting in favor of going to the races.