Eat the yoghurt Brian
Why does anyone care what I eat?
He asked her. Everyone cares she said. Really? Really. He scratched his beard. It wasn’t even his beard. Just the one he wore on stage. People cared what he ate. How odd! He didn’t even care. He was feeling more apathetic about more things every day and food was one of them. He did used to care. At least he thinks he did. He definitely loved a good steak at some point and hated rice pudding. Now he wasn’t sure and would probably eat either if they were put in front of him. He was the same with women.
It will only take a minute she told him. People were always telling him that but very few things actually took a minute and things seemed to take him increasingly longer to do now, like taking a shit, or getting out of bed or getting some waiters attention, or some woman. There used to be some women, now there were none. Like an Agatha Christie novel he once read when he still read. Now he just read lines people handed him and ate whatever those same people put in front of him.
What’s it called he asked. 24 hours on a plate she said, reading it off her clip board. He wondered what she would look like without her clipboard but he wasn’t allowed to think of her like that. And he genuinely wanted to be better than that so he was always glad she had her clipboard. He knew if he stepped over any lines she could always whack him with it and that would be fair. He wanted to live in a fair world after all.
24 hours he thought. Once upon a time he may not have eaten anything in that time period. He had been known to exist on cigarettes and whisky and people would never have dreamed of asking him what he ate knowing damn well the answer was nothing. Eating was something mere mortals did. Not Hollywood actors. Being photographed eating a greasy burger was the beginning of the end, the paunch and not the pay cheque. The seductive powers of bacon transcended celebrity status.
Ok, fine, whatever, just tell me what I have to do he said. You just have to write down what you eat, just for one day. What day? Any day she said. Today? If you want. He didn’t want. He had not eaten yet that day but had already drunk 2 beers. He might have had a piece of gum but he wasn’t sure if that counted or if that was even today. He had also manhandled a limp salad in the canteen but decided against it. He didn’t think anyone needed to know that. No, he wanted it to be another day. He needed it to be another day. A day when he was proud of what he put in his body or at least not ashamed. He wondered if that was what it was like to be a woman every day.
Tomorrow? Whatever you want she said. It's good publicity. It is? Yes, that guy from that show you like did it last week, it was fascinating. Was it? Yes. Although I don’t know if I really believe that’s what he’s eating. You mean he lied? Probably. I just don’t think he looks like a goat cheese kind of guy you know. No. He did not know.
So he could always lie then. But then that directly conflicted with his whole trying to be a better man thing. Or better still a better person. Why had he made that stupid resolution anyway? Her clipboard was taunting him now. It was all that stood between him throwing it all to the wind and just being the shitty washed up actor he was at heart. The one that would sleep with his assistant if it meant he didn’t have to think for a few minutes, not just about what he ate that day but about the play he was in that he wanted so badly to mean something but turned out meant nothing and what that meant about life in general. He wondered why he had stopped at two beers but then felt oddly accomplished at that
If you want you can just tell me what you ate yesterday and I’ll note it down and get it back to them, it will only take a minute she said again.
Ok, sure, that sounds harmless he said because in a random flash of paranoia it seemed everything was trying to harm him and she had that clipboard still and he couldn’t stop thinking about her hitting him with it and wondered if it was going to be a problem.
Another one he didn’t need.
He was confident that yesterday he definitely ate something. He would check the garbage when he got home. Only it wasn’t home. It was some god awful mid-range hotel and the maid would have changed his garbage by now and he was not going to rummage in the dumpsters round the back, not again. Not since those photos emerged.
I think its fine as long as you don’t say you ate Burger King or children she said. He laughed. But he couldn’t check his rubbish to know that for sure. He looked in the mirror and wondered if he looked like a goats cheese kind of guy but he had no idea what that looked like and came away feeling deflated and took that to mean he was probably just a regular Jack kind of guy.
They always sound like they’re too busy to eat she said but if they can they grab like a bagel then go out for drinks but usually they’d have like egg whites and kale. He didn’t know if he knew what kale was but being a good assistant she said it’s like spinach but with a bigger ego. He laughed. She was going to need a bigger clipboard.
The minute she promised became 10. 15 at tops. Women always seemed to lie to him. He was trying to be a better person though so chose to conclude that all people were always lying to him, not just women. She said it was a fluff piece. Filler. That the guy off that show he liked had done it. She said it was good publicity. That they would put a little note at the bottom about the show and where to get tickets. All he had to do was tell them what he ate. He could say anything she said. No one would know. No one would know then but for some reason everyone cared.
It wasn’t like he had food issues and secretly ate whole cakes alone in his hotel room. Or worse ate a slice then threw it out only to eat it out the bin in the middle of the night, catching his reflection in the mirror then crying himself to sleep vowing tomorrow would be different. No. His diet was quite good. Normal even verging on boring. The days before when he existed on cigarettes and whisky he felt rotten. He was strung out but desirable. No one cared what he ate. People wanted to know who he was screwing or what jeans he wore. He had never been bothered either way about food. He had people who reminded him to eat. She said she would get some other peoples food diaries for me to read but I wasn’t interested. She said she would get them anyway and leave them in my dressing room.
I put something together between acts. It wasn’t a big deal or that hard and I maybe gave it 8 minutes. I was quite keen to tell her that. I was honest and didn’t think it looked that bad. I hadn’t looked at the others. I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted mine to be authentic. If my life had come to this, to doing fluff pieces to save a dying play I thought would reinvent me, I could at least do one last true thing, for Hemingway if not for myself.
The reviews were in. It was not good. The nutritionist slated me. I did not take it well. A friend pointed out that maybe it was more about the dying play and career rather than the food diary but I wouldn’t have it. I had to speak to this woman.
After having to explain who I was she told me she was just saying I could have had yoghurt instead of cheesecake. I said ok but I didn’t. I had the fucking cheesecake. She said ok but I could have. She was very calm and didn’t even object to me swearing at her. This only made me madder. Another time, maybe have a yoghurt she said and I could detect a sense of pity in her voice like she had seen the play and it was more about that or worse had seen into the future and seen that I was only one cheesecake away from diabetes. I could not be a washed up actor and have diabetes. Who was this cruel god?
I told her I probably wouldn’t. She told me I could at least think about it. I told her I wouldn’t. She asked why. I told her that if there’s cheesecake I will almost definitely have cheesecake. I wasn’t going to say no and go get yoghurt. She said ok. Like she had just pictured me going to the fridge in my underpants and getting a yoghurt and was disgusted. I said ok then just to get the last word but I was not done with this woman. How dare she suggest I eat yoghurt? Didn’t she know who I was? No.
The next night I was having dinner with friends. When it came to desert I made a point of having seconds. This point was lost on the friends I was with so I felt compelled to phone the nutritionist. She didn’t seem to care that I had definitely not had a yoghurt. She did care though that I had phoned her up at night and at home. She said I needed a yoghurt and boundaries.
My assistant was concerned. The nutritionist assistant had phoned her to tell her to keep me away from her boss.
Don’t you have a little voice inside your head telling you what you should or shouldn’t do she asked. No, nothing I said. Really? I don’t mean like a cartoon devil or anything, I just mean like a normal voice? No, nothing. Oh she said backing away like she just realised she may be working for a psychopath. She had not seen the dumpster pictures.
This is why it’s so unsettling I said, trying to explain. Right she said. Still not buying it and trying to think if she knew of any other less psychopathic actors with openings for assistants.
I mean this woman has infected me I said. I feel violated. She could see that I was clearly distressed so moved forward but clutched her clipboard tighter.
And it’s not just with food. This morning when I went to put my socks on I heard her questioning my sock choice! Do you really think you should wear the blue ones with your calves?
She looked down at his calves
That is disturbing she said then do you need socks? Always the assistant
And I’ve never even met this wretched woman but there she is, popping into my head, more than I let my own mother… although to be fair that did takes years of therapy
His assistant was wondering if she needed to call his therapist but knew not to call his mother, she made that mistake only once before.
I need to know who this woman is I said
Ok, sure, right, I’ll see if we can set up a meeting, a lunch maybe, no, scrap that
I just hope I’m getting paid for this
You got paid she said but then looked down at her clipboard and admitted I didn’t get paid. It was just for the publicity.
I seriously doubt more people are going to come to this god awful play just because I eat the same toast they do I said. They might she said. Should I do a shout out to toast tonight? She laughed but I could tell she wasn’t sure if I was joking or not.
She felt proud thought at how she had coped with the situation. The nutritionist’s assistant did not sound as competent. She was still unsure how to could keep the situation from escalating further though. She would drown her sorrows in bin cake later. And still make sure to ask around about any possible job openings.
A few days passed and I had still not met this woman. I hadn’t even seen a picture of her. Yet here I was drunk dialling her to tell her I had just eaten two slices of chocolate torte instead of a yoghurt. No one needed to know that.
It was by chance that we actually met. I say met. Someone I was with pointed her out to me. That’s that woman who told you to eat yoghurt he said laughing. Again I didn’t know what was so funny about the idea of me eating yoghurt. I wasn’t particularly fat. I have eaten a fucking yoghurt! I wanted to scream. Could my mum or an ex-girlfriend verify this I wondered? Where was my assistant? She could do that surely? What were they teaching these kids these days if not to hack everything?
The woman was across the street talking to someone on a bike. Course she was. She was friends with people that rode bikes and ate yoghurts instead of cakes and who probably knitted their own clothes out of hemp.
Hey I yelled. I hadn’t meant to yell but I wanted to get her attention. Hey I yelled again. When she saw me she rolled her eyes and I could see her saying something to the man on the bike.
I got up and ran over to her. Hey I said a little less shouty and more like a hello.
Hey she said
Ok, bye I said running back to my friend
What was that about he asked. I don’t know I said.
I was in a bar later that week and saw the guy who did the food diary thing the week before me. For some reason I had to call him out on his two breakfasts. He had said that he had eggs then granola. I accuse him of being a liar. Who has two breakfasts I yelled at him. Fat people I said, not people that eat granola. His people had me removed from the bar. My people didn’t understand any of it. I skulked home intending to eat a yoghurt in my underpants but there wasn’t one in the fridge. I didn’t want my good intentions to go unnoticed thought so I went out on my balcony and asked the universe to see me and my suffering. The universe did not see me but my neighbour heard me and politely told me to shut the fuck up.
Then I saw the woman again and I shouted at her. I asked her what she had for breakfast. She rightly ignored me. She wouldn’t even humour me by shouting back a reply. I was hoping she was more game and maybe offer up a shit sandwich or bowl of whoop arse. But nothing. She didn’t even wave this time. Spoil sport.
My therapist is called but I won’t see him.
I will only see my assistant
She tells me that people don’t really read the verdict. The people that read those sorts of things want to know if z list celebrities eat the same things as them, as mere mortals, and if there’s a chance they will bump into them in the cheese isle in the supermarket. No one cares what the nutritionist says. They know full well that they should be eating more green things and less white things.
Really? I said, surprised
Yes, really. And I think most people who do it just give it to someone on their staff to do; maybe they proof read it quickly just to check that you’re not saying they only eat red M n M's
Yes, or children, but that’s it. Job done. Free publicity. Next.
What’s the point then?
There isn’t any. Don’t you know that by now?
I didn’t know that but was starting to. I was also starting to really want a yoghurt but didn’t know how one went about acquiring one let alone eating one. The TV ads always showed women eating them but how was a man supposed to eat one and did they even make man yoghurts. I knew they made ones especially for women and their bowels but was it ok for a man to eat or would I grow breasts? Why did we love breasts so much yet getting our own was the worst thing? Was it worse than diabetes? Or this play? Where was my assistant? I really needed assistance.
There she is!
About the Writer
The story goes that Lucie Britsch's writing career peaked when she won a poop scoop slogan contest as a kid. Since then her words have appeared in Barrelhouse, This is Pinball, Volume1Brooklyn, The Millions and Catapult Story. Like everyone she's working on some books but mostly procrastinating by reading other peoples and realising hers are shit in comparison.