In my dream, the news that smoking was good for you hit like the proverbial bombshell. Almost immediately, restaurants provided smoking sections and put non-smokers back near the kitchen. In the office, non-smokers wanted to sit next to smokers so they could inhale some of their smoke, and on television entertainers once again made cigarette commercials. Boy George endorsed both Camels and Virginia Slims.
Around the same time, it was discovered that exercise was bad for you. People who ran were jeered in the street, health clubs all over the nation shut down, and Jane Fonda was never heard from again. She was last seen smoking a cigarette, eating a jelly doughnut and posing for pictures in a recliner.
In cover stories, both Newsweek and Time announced that thin was out and fat was in. Time had quotes from psychologists and an essay from Henry Kissinger, who pointed out that never in history had a thin people triumphed. Newsweek noted that Winston Churchill, William Howard Taft and Henry VIII were fat and that they not only lived a long time, but contributed greatly to their respective societies.
USA Today ran a two paragraph story saying, "We Are Fat," with a graph showing absolutely nothing, and People magazine announced that "Fat Is Where It's At!" and reported on those lucky few who get fat without even trying ("You can never be too rich or too fat," said Orson Welles). Ed McMahon made fun of Johnny Carson for being thin. The audience howled.
Tragically, the poor never caught on. They continued to remain thin, thinking it would make them appear rich. It was sad, very much like the time poor men finally got around to wearing their hair long when everyone else was wearing theirs short. Only the middle class had the time to keep up. They had been raised to believe that eggs and whole milk were healthy, that an annual chest X-ray was good and that sneakers and cowboy boots would ruin your feet. They would believe anything.
All their lives the middle class had been learning and unlearning dictums about health, all of which it took with great solemnity. Like the poor who never noticed that thin was out and fat back in, it never noticed that no matter what it did, things seemed to remain the same and that no matter what the poor did not do, their kids could still beat up kids who were raised on a balanced diet.
Things were going along so well that some people thought nothing could improve. They were wrong. Doctors at one of the foremost medical centers announced that salt was probably the best thing in the world for you. Almost instantly, people started to put it in their soup and on their meat. (Did I mention that meat was also discovered to be good for you?) The more salt you had, the better off you were, and in Soviet Georgia it was discovered that a man had lived to 112 on nothing but salt.
Still, the best news was yet to come. All vitamins were found to cause cancer. Vitamin E was found to cause cancer in people, but not in mice. Yogurt, too, was found to cause cancer and emphysema -- as was cottage cheese, margarine and Tab. Still, even people who were dying of these diseases were cured by massive intakes of HWTW -- hamburgers with the works.
In the mornings, Americans sat down to breakfasts of bacon and eggs. This was discovered to be healthy, theories about cholesterol and sodium having been disproved long ago. Even better is French toast with bacon and lots of maple syrup on top. Maybe a pat of butter, too. This not only made you live longer, but it made you fat, which is what everyone wanted.
As medical science marched on, it was discovered that salads caused AIDS. Avocado was banned by the Food and Drug Administration. Also proscribed was granola, because it was found to retard aging and almost everyone wanted to look old. In L.A., people had bags surgically implanted under their eyes, and senior citizens everywhere were actually called old. I was one, and I was happy because I could smoke and eat all the things I love.
My dreams are wonderful. It's my life that's a nightmare.