He's an average-seeming sixty-something guy. He sits down in a North Carolina barbecue restaurant every Saturday night, just before closing. Every single time, he orders four complete dinners. But he isn't fat. Nor is he desperate, disheveled or demented. What could be going on here? I asked that question last month after I happened upon the man and his odd weekly habit during a visit to North Raleigh (and to the Barbecue Lodge). I asked readers to hypothesize.
More than 200 did. About half figured the man eats extra meals on behalf of three people who once meant a lot to him but are no longer alive.
"Perhaps he has lost a spouse and two children," guessed an e-mailer named Bp383. Roxanne Wooten of Forestville guessed that the defunct family of four used to go to dinner every Saturday, and papa bear is keeping tradition alive.
Allan Toole of Woodbridge surmised that the mystery man served in Vietnam with three men from the Raleigh area. He made it home. They didn't. In their honor, he "orders a meal for himself and each of his departed comrades, and enjoys it all in their memory," Allan writes.
Dan Freedman figures the man "lives in some BBQ-deprived region -- say Washington, D.C." He misses the classic vinegary form of barbecue (you can find it only in eastern North Carolina).
So the guy hops in his car on Saturday morning, makes tracks to the Barbecue Lodge, stuffs his face, spends the night in a motel and drives home on Sunday, "fully satisfied," Dan theorizes.
CCarrnDC, an e-mailer, made me guffaw with this theory: "Perhaps it's his wife's bridge night?"
In the same church, but a different pew, was William Klein. He figures wifey-poo is a vegan. "He shudders just thinking about what's in store for him at mealtime," so he tanks up on the Real Deal on his way home from work, says William.
"I bet he's a marathon runner, and Saturday is his main training day," writes Catherine Langrehr of Burke. "Most marathon runners can eat huge amounts . . . and never get fat."
Fil Feit has this clever guess: The guy's writing a book about serial gorging.
He eats four ribeyes each Sunday, four huge stacks of pancakes on Tuesday and so on, Fil says. "If he makes it to 80," he'll be sure it's because of his diet, and the book will be a hit, Fil predicts.
Joan Roscoe of Annapolis has a guess that agrees with mine: The guy has an eating disorder.
"Maybe this man is bulimic and throws up after each meal," she guesses. "That would account for his ability to eat so much and stay thin."
Herschel Finch's take: The guy is a salesman whose territory includes Raleigh. He fills up every Saturday on his way home.
An e-mailer named Laura was very upset that I publicized this story. She feels I'm invading the man's privacy. "You must have accidentally stepped into a wormhole in space, which resulted in your brain being switched with the brain of Jerry Springer," Laura thinks.
Not guilty, milady. Privacy doesn't come into play here because the man is ordering (and eating) his four meals in a public place. Besides, the waitress who told me about the guy said he's already well known among staff and clientele.
Finally, an e-mailer named rmason178 warns that he and the Barbecue Lodge guy are aliens.
"We are busy preparing for our full-scale invasion of this rotten planet and just can't afford the time to eat every day. You're the first writer to notice us, so prepare to be eaten."
Hold the vinegar, okay?
Wasn't Election Day six weeks ago? Doesn't D.C. law require all candidates -- winners as well as losers -- to take down their campaign materials within two weeks of the election?
But many (most? all?) haven't done so. On a fact-finding jaunt the other day, here's what I saw:
* Multiple Eleanor Holmes Norton posters in Rock Creek Park, along Military Road NW.
* A bedraggled Eugene Kinlow poster at North Capitol and P streets NW.
* Adam Eidinger at 13th Street and Missouri Avenue NW, Vincent Orange at Harewood Road and Taylor Street NE, Ben Bonham at South Dakota Avenue and Gallatin Street NE, Carol Schwartz all along Riggs Road NE.
Come on, gang. You made the beds. Lie in them. Cut down the posters. Now.
Are you stuck for a gift idea for one of your children's teachers? You just got unstuck. Why not make a contribution to our annual fundraising campaign in the teacher's honor? If you supply us with the teacher's name and address, we'll acknowledge the gift. This always paints major smiles on teachers' faces. Thanks for considering it.
Our goal by Jan. 24: $1,000,000.
In hand as of Dec. 7: $85,323.
TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to
Children's Hospital and mail it to
Bob Levey's Campaign for Children's,
P.O. Box 75528, Baltimore, Md. 21275-5528.
BY VISA OR MASTERCARD:
Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a
touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S,
or 5437, and follow instructions.
TO CONTRIBUTE ONLINE:
Go to www.washingtonpost.com/childrenshospital and follow instructions.