I have just returned from another funeral. i suppose i had better get used to it. I'm aging, my friends are aging, my parents are aging. My father once told me that he goes to a viewing or something once a month.

I don't like putting on a suit and tie nearly that much.

But this is not about mourning, the dearly departed or the existential nature of death. It's about food.

You, see in an attempt to limit my personal growth I've put myself on a diet. Not the Atkins diet, or any of the stylish diets. Not even my favorite the 'see food' diet, but the boring plain policy of eating less, cutting down on fats, substituting water for sugar and other stuff that you don't have to buy a book to accomplish.

All you need is willpower.

But as Hamlet once noted, therein lies the rub. Willpower is not always somethng i have in surplus. If I had a ton of willpower I'd be skinny now, my house would be clean, and I'd have finished my third novel and be on literary tour, hoping for groupies.

Worse, i have well trained my body to crave sugar and fat. Consider this transcript of an actual conversation I had with my inner voice.

Bad TM: You're really hungry.

Good TM: Of course, I'm hungry. I'm on a diet. If you're on a diet and not hungry, you're slipping or turning into Bugs Bunny. I know i'm hungry, and i don't need reminded of it.

Bad TM: But there's a Burger King just ahead. On the left. See the sign?

Of course I saw the sign. And I had no intention of admitting it. Then my stomach decided to add it's point of view, with an inner quake and a contraction that made me know that it felt like some poor, starving puppy

Bad TM: See, you really are hungry. But you don't have to be. Just one quick left and you could be tasting a nice, juicy, flame-broiled whopper. And fries. Just think of how wonderful a king-sized order of fries would taste, dripping in ketchup.

stomach contraction

I kept my foot on the gas and my eyes straight ahead. Focus on the road and ignore all those enticing fast food signs. But Bad TM's voice gets ever louder, and faster as i refuse to lift and engage my turn signal.

Bad TM: It's close. We're almost there. And we're soooooooo hungry.

Good TM: Gritting Teeth I don't need a hamburger, don't need a thing.

Bad TM Now very shrill, an with same note of desperate pity Sally Struthers has when showing you some starving Somali children. You're going to miss it!

Good TM: Must go sraight. Drive down road. Think of ice water. Imagine celery.

Bad TM; No, you can't! You're going to misss it. That whopper they made just for you!

Good TM: I am not hungry! I am not hungry!

Bad TM Stop! Turn now! You can still make the corner.

Good TM; Almost past . . . .

Bad TM: Nooooooo! You drove right on by! Now we shall starve! Sssstarve us you will!

Good TM: Whew

Bad TM; We're going to die, slowly, just like Bobby Sands. But wait, what's that i see up ahead? Could it be Wendy's?

And so it went for four and a half miles!. My inner voice carefully pointed out every single item on the menu of every single restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. The monologue was unrelenting and reduced me to grunts and moans. But i did not yield to my temptation. I made it home. I ate the carrot. I drank water.

So today i found myself at a funeral. If you've been to a funeral you realize that everyone in America believes that the bereaved are in immediate danger of starvation. Death leads dozens of people to fire up their ovens, determined to provide butterfat in their loved one's time of need.

And so it was immediately after the funeral when we were ushered into the parlor for a reception. And to my left, sat a cornucopia of sugary goodness. Carrot cake, spice cake, lemon cake, chocolate cake bundt cake. Brownies with chocolate icing. Brownies with chocolate icing and pecans. Brownies with vanilla icing or no icing at all. Cookies of all shape and form. Apple pie whose crust glistened with juices.

I closed my eyes and kept walking. They would have coffee All churches have coffee. Not a single calorie in caffeine.

I made it. i found a group of friends and i took my seat, careful to turn my back to the siren song of pastry that beckoned to me from behind. I sipped my coffee. I smiled and talked about the primary. i shook hands. I networked

And i held on, unti the last handshake and hug had been shared. I had done my duty, and it was time to depart. I ran into Ned, the deceased's brother on my way out. Right next to the dessert table.

He thanked me for coming and we shared some yuks I like him, he's good people. It's a shame to have to meet him under such sad circumstance. But all the while I kept stealing glances at the frosted goodness.

Eventually i made it out the door, safely, with diet intact. My stomach is still quaking in protest. I wonder if it will ever forgive me.