Triscuit fills you, but not with regret!
But I hope the advertising flack who wrote this panel burns in Hell.
Regret ought to be one of the heavy hitters among emotions. Like its out of fashion cousin, Shame, Regret implies not only the knowledge that you’ve done something wrong, but a genuine desire to go back and change time. This should be one of the heavy hitters in the emotional lineup.
Perhaps we don’t have a good enough word for the things that you just kind of wish had gone differently. I wish I’d gone to see the Grateful Dead when I had the chance in 1991. I wish I’d done more of the assigned reading in college. Neither of these issues really keeps me up at night, though. I’ve never blearily looked across the bar and shouted into the mirror, “You damned fool! If only you’d read Don Quixote!”
Regrets, I’ve had a few. Times I acted cruelly or pettily stand out. Times I went back on my word. Things I should have said but didn’t. These are the regrets that come around late at night. You’ll notice the lack of Triscuits, or indeed, any foodstuff.
Why do the good folks at Nabisco think I’m likely to be filled by regret by a cracker? Are they concerned that my snacking habits remind me of the inequitable distribution of food in our world? That the elegant crosshatching of a Triscuit-based crudite reminds me of some tiny kindness denied in my past?
Sadly, no. This is just one more step in the immeasurably harmful mixing of nutrition and morality in American culture. What I should regret is taking some less worthy cracker into my body, actually choosing to admit some microscopic amount of sugar and fat into my blood with every sinful bite.
The Food Nazis appeal to Regret and Shame in the hope that it will lead people to better, healthier, happier lives. They mean well, but I’m here to say that has to stop. Sure, we should all eat a good diet. Many religions and codes of ethics would even argue that it’s the “right” thing to do. A “balanced diet” doesn’t imply, though, that every bite has to be an inoffensive neutral mix, or that the occasional indulgence is “wrong.”
I think back to the young women whom I’ve seen order dessert and say they were “being bad.” They even describe their time on the exercise bike the next day as if it were a necessary penance. Ladies, it’s a piece of cheesecake. It’s not like you knocked over a liquor store.
Let’s keep some perspective, folks. We should eat well because it’s fun. It tastes good and makes us feel better. We should also eat healthily, because it’s fun, tastes good and makes us feel better. We should learn about nutrition, and we should learn about the ways we each individually like to get our balanced, appropriate, healthy diet.
And we shouldn’t let Madison Avenue or Dr. Atkins give us the idea that the brand of cracker we choose might be a shameful secret to take to the grave.
(Quote of the day, courtesy, I think, of Lewis Black: Marlon Brando lived longer than Dr. Atkins. Think about it.
In fairness, Brando did eat him. High protein and all.)