Popcorn Diet

May 11th, 2012 input via mattcolville

This post original appeared on my old site. It’s not the usual gaming/culture stuff, but variety is the spice of thing.

My doctorb (“The extra ‘b’ is for ‘bargain!’) is awesome. I love Dr. Brunner and I always look forward to seeing him.

I say this because, as a guy, going to the doctor is notable. There’s a difference between men and women. At least one difference. Possibly more, but for the purposes of this post let’s stick with this one difference: guys don’t see doctors. Not as a rule.

Women see doctors. That’s the difference. A friend of mine said “I don’t understand why none of you guys ever go to the doctor!” I esplained.

“Larra,” I said, for such was her name, “you have to imagine what it’s like being a guy and 18,” which is when most of us learn this.

“First, there’s nothing wrong with you at 18. You feel great. You can do pretty much anything, for pretty much as long as you want, and then eat whatever you want or, alternatively, nothing for days and you don’t notice either way. Why on Earth would you go to a doctor?

“Also,” I said, because I really talk like this in person, “you’re going to live forever. You’re basically invincible and essentially immortal and you look at your Dad and he looks, you know…he looks like he’s been rode hard and put away wet, but there doesn’t appear to be anything critically malfunctioning. You look and your Grandpa and he’s active and happy, and then he drops dead unexpectedly and you look at your Dad and you both shrug and say ‘Huh.’” That “Huh” means “that was weird. Probably a freak occurrence. Million-to-one odds.”

The point is that guys tend not to teach their sons good habits when it comes to this stuff. We put off dealing with mortality as long as possible until going to the doctor scares the crap out of you because it’s been 30 years and God knows what kind of stuff is wrong you never knew about. Dad’s not fine, by the way, there’s all sorts of stuff that hurts that didn’t used to but he keeps his mouth shut because usually whatever it is just goes away. Usually.

To give you an example: I burst a blood vessel in my eye a couple years ago. Never happened before, and if it’s never happened to you, let me explain. It doesn’t hurt. You don’t notice it, you can’t feel it, you have no nerves on the surface of your eye. But holy shit does it freak the people out who look at you. Which is a great way to freak YOU out. “Hey Matt, what’s the timeline like on the OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYE?”


Everyone sends me IM’s and emails to links explaining that I’m ok and it’s no big deal. My best friend who sat on the other side of the cubical wall gophered up to intone, insightfully:

“Yeah, but it never did that before, did it? You gotta wonder…what’s different now?” He’s not saying that to freak me out…or rather, he’s not only saying that to freak me out, he’s saying that because that’s exactly how he thinks. How we all think. Stuff’s kinda, you know, winding down. But by God we’re not going to see a doctor! A woman would see a doctor. Really, she doesn’t have to “see a doctor” about a burst blood vessel, she only has to make a note to talk to the doctor about it the next time she sees him. This is an alien experience for a lot of us on the spear side.

The first time I saw Dr. Brunner, it’d been 25 years since the last time I saw a doctor and it took 3 hours for me to infodump on him everything I could remember that, had I been a woman…that’s right, I just said that…he’d have been getting all along. This is something called your “medical history” apparently.

So what’s the difference? As you probably know, the difference is: guys don’t have plumbing. Girls have plumbing and apparently they need to get their pipes rotated once a year or something. I cherish my ignorance on the subject.

The point is starting around, say, 12 years old, give or take, Mom takes you (and here I’ve switched who “you” is, so if you’re a guy don’t freak out) to the special girl doctor who doesn’t call himself a girl doctor because that would be silly and instead calls himself a…a gynodoctor or something. A gynechiatrist? I’m sure that’s it.

Moms teach their daughters good habits, Dads teach their sons how to shoot guns. That’s literally true in my case, it’s not just a stereotype.

So my last visit to the esteemed Dr. Brunner, we talked about diet and agreed that I should lose weight. Sure. Easy. I find that if I’m busy, I lose weight. If I’m not, I eat. In fact if I’m busy enough, I’ll go quite a long time without being hungry.

Tonight, for instance, I IM’ed Austin, the aforementioned best friend, and said “I think it’s been about 24 hours since I’ve eaten anything.”

“You should fucking eat something dude.” You see why he’s my best friend.

“Well, I’m not sure I’m hungry.” This is literally true. “I can’t tell if I’m hungry-hungry or bored-hungry.”

Realizing there was no insight to offer on that, he said “holy shit this is the best Dwarf Fortress ever!”

I reasoned that if I were hungry-hungry, I’d know it, and so I should maybe eat something snacky to compensate. I decide to have some popcorn. Ah-hah! The title of this post!

I bought some popcorn a few weeks ago, microwave popcorn, I think we all take that for granted, and I pulled it out to read the calories.

Now, even if the calories were clearly spelled out, I probably would have put the popcorn back down. But I confess I actually put it down because the popcorn confused me.

First, the calories are measured both Popped and Unpopped. Does this make sense to anyone? Why on earth would you want to know the caloric content of unpopped popcorn? The only possible reason someone could want to know that is if they plan on eating unpopped popcorn and that challenges my worldview.

It also measures calories in Servings. Two different measurements here. Servings popped, servings unpopped.  I am old enough to remember when a 12oz can of Coke was 2 servings, but I’ve gotten used to a  kind of sanity where “1 serving” is “one package” for anything that comes individually wrapped. Like popcorn. So one serving should be one bag.

One serving is not one bag. One serving is 3 ounces. 3 ounces of unpoppedpopcorn. How many ounces are in a serving? It doesn’t tell you. You can find out! But first you must convert ounces unpopped into cups of popped popcorn goddamn. I shit you not, you have to BOTH convert between popped and unpopped and ounces and cups. It’s a god-damned two dimensional matrix!

I give up and throw the popcorn away. I’ve probably burned more calories just thinking about how many calories are in the fucking popcorn than the popcorn has, but fuck it.

I have actual popcorn kernels, and vegetable oil. I look at the calories of that, and determine it’s way way lower than microwave popcorn and disnae require any maths.

I have never popped popcorn the, ah, natural way. Even before microwaves, we used Jiffy Pop which unlike a microwave was actually fun. I believe I understand the fundamentals however. I get a pan, I pour in the vegetable oil. I measure out some popcorn kernels into the pan, I turn the heat on medium, and I go watch Mythbusters.

If you are paying close attention, you may have noticed a critical missing element. Don’t shout it out! I’m keen to build suspense.

About 3 minutes in, I begin to hear popcorn popping. Success! Mmm…popcorn. It won’t have any butter, but that’s ok. As it turns out I won’t be having any popcorn. Jiffy Pop and microwaves both work essentially the same. Wait until there’s about 3 seconds between popping sounds, and you’re done. So I wait.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Everything is OBVIOUSLY working according to plan, requiring NO oversight on my part. There are some few of you reading this who know that while I am in some ways a smart dude, this is exactly the manner in which I am really stupid.

At roughly the five minute mark, no audible sign of the popcorn slowing, I realize something is wrong. But not with the popcorn, with the cats.

The cats are freaking out. They’re running around like it’s the goddamned catpocalypse. This is not a typical side-effect of popping popcorn. It is unusual for the cats to go screaming around at all. Often even when there are perfectly legitimate things to run around screaming about. Also, the dog is barking, at first I think at the cats.

She’s barking at me.

“Barky! Barky-bark!”

I sense something is wrong. I sense she’s trying to tell me something. She really does this.


“Barky!” *spin in circle*

“Cookie is something wrong?”

“Barky-bark!” *spin in circle*

I stand up. This is the universal Dog Sign for “We’re off! WOOO!”

Cookie sees the sign and immediately runs into the kitchen, because now we’re like hunters and the quarry is in the kitchen.

In the kitchen with the popcorn. The problem is in the kitchen with the popcorn. I begin to realize that there’s something wrong with the popcorn.

Ok, so the first thing I noticed was not the bedding of popcorn about 3 inches deep covering the floor. I can’t see the floor from my vantage point looking through the large window-like hole that allows someone in the living room to see into the kitchen. All I can see is the RAIN of popcorn, the constant fucking SHOWER of popcorn in the kitchen which continues unabated.

I failed to put the lid on the pan. I have inadvertently created what is effectively a kind of automated high-volume popcorn catapult currently sieging the entire kitchen en mass.

This is why the cats are freaking out. Their food dishes are in the kitchen which means it’s currently impossible for them to eat without being constantly pelted by popcorn raining from the heavens. I should say right now, everything’s fine. Brain is fine. No one appears injured.

I bring this up because while all the cats are running around, Brain chose this moment to leap up onto the room divider between the kitchen and living room, through the window/hole thing, and into the living room at such high velocity I did not at first recognize which cat it was.

His tail is on fire.

I’m not making this up.

Looking back, I have to assume Brain was investigating the popcorn on the gas stove, and his tail got too close to the flame. He is now tearing around the house, his claws are scrabbling on the hardwood floor, he’s making the biggest possible circuit he can, ears flattened against his head, just running as fast as his little kitty paws will take him, because he thinks he can run away from his own tail.

They say that, in a disaster, the people who make it, the people who survive, are the people who don’t freeze up. Who keep moving. Who keep thinking and trying to work their way out of the situation. I like to think I’m that guy. Certainly when the disaster is an earthquake, if keeping moving is the survival criteria, I’m going to be the most survingest motherfucker in California.

But I’m paralyzed. My brain is flooded with a cascade of conficting data and reason.

“Brain’s tail is on fire.”

“That’s bad!”

“Yeah. But how do I…how do I put it out?”

“Go chase after him!”

“Ok. Ok, yeah we could do that. What do you think would happen if I suddenly started tearing after the Brain?”

“Ahh…hang on…hang on.”

“Keep in mind, his tail is on fire.”

“Oh my god he’d just freak out more!”

“Yeah, so I shouldn’t chase after him. That would be stupid.”

“Well what’s the alternative?”

“Stand still?”

“Ok, well, that’s what we’re doing now isn’t it?”

“Mission accomplished!”

*high five*

This being really quite frighteningly close to my actual train of thought, I go investigate what was happening in the kitchen. Which is to say, I left the cat’s tail on fire. I’m normally a good kitty-daddy, please believe me.

So, the answer to your next question is…I don’t know. I don’t know how Brain’s tail got put out. It’s not on fire now. It was on fire. It was like someone stuck the Olympic Torch in my cat’s ass. But somehow, between then and dealing with the popcorn, the fire went out. Nearest I can tell, the other animals put it out. So, whatever else you may think, obviously my plan worked.

Dealing with the popcorn wasn’t really difficult, it’s just wading into the ankle-deep popcorn and turning the heat off. It was made more difficult by the fact that previously the cats were “OMG it’s raining popcorn” freaked out. Which is about a 6 on the scale of Cat Freakouts where fireworks is like a 9.

What’s a 10? Turns out a 10 is “HOLY SHIT BRAIN’S TAIL IS ON FIRE!!”

I have, I can show you, I have these large red scratches up my back and on my right shoulder. They are from the Pinky-cat. Because as I was trying to get to the popcorn and shut off the heat, she clawed her way up my back. Then, perched on my shoulder and kind of militantly purred the way only really freaked out cats can purr, I pulled her off my shoulder which caused the big red scratches there.

I turned off the heat. Considering how much popcorn is on the floor, and the countertops and on top of the fridge, and in the sink and behind the blender and inside the toaster, there’s an awful lot of popcorn kernels still in the pan.

It turns out, I put about 400 servings of popcorn in the pan. I think I figured “hey, no butter! I’m free to eat more without feeling guilty.”

And as it turned out, I do not feel guilty!

Wooo! Popcorn diet!