MEMORIAL DAY is the unofficial start of summer, and, despite my best efforts, I am not prepared for my hot weather debut.
I blame my wife.
She spent much of the winter and spring baking bread, and forcing me to eat it by allowing the aroma to waft through our house. Perhaps if it were just the bread, I could handle it. But LaVeta played dirty, and she played for keeps.
She used a stand mixer to whip heavy cream into homemade butter. Then she sat the butter in front of me, along with the warm, crusty bread. Thinking back on it now, I know what she was doing. She was fattening me up so that the young hotties wouldn't look at me this summer.
She couldn't have a buff 40-something guy leaving the house every day for work. Not in the summertime. Not when there are so many young women desperately seeking a man with a job and health insurance. No, sir. LaVeta wasn't about to let some vixen half my age lust over my six-pack, so my wife did the only thing she could do to protect our marriage and family.
She turned my six-pack into a keg.
In truth, her plot to make me fat didn't start this past winter. It started years ago, when she began watching cooking shows and trying out the recipes on me. There was the lasagna with seven cheeses, and the chicken pot pie made from scratch. There were cookies the size of my daughter's head, and cakes rich enough to have bank accounts. She made spaghetti with sausage, pasta with clams and served Italian bread with everything.
Like a fool I ate it all. I even asked for seconds. And LaVeta? She served me with a smile. At the time, I thought she was smiling because she loved to see me happy. Now I know she smiled because I'm fat.
I should've known her intentions. There were clues along the way, like the time she told me I should skip the gym stuff and work out closer to home. I thought she said that because she genuinely wanted my company. Thinking back, though, she wanted a slightly plump husband who could help her watch the kids.
To make sure her diabolical scheme was successful, she bought an ice-cream maker. The maple butter pecan was the clincher. It was so delicious I knew I could never turn back. I was committed to eating scrumptious food, and doing so all the time.
Oh, sure, there would be times when I'd wake up from my calorie-induced stupor and say, "Where am I, and why am I so fat?"
LaVeta would just stuff another cookie in my mouth to keep me quiet, and once I started chewing it, I'd forget about my latent desire to eat healthy.
This was especially true last winter. Every time it snowed, LaVeta would cook some sinfully delicious meal and stare me down, waiting for me to break. I couldn't give her the satisfaction of seeing her victory, so I'd wait until she went to bed. Then I'd sneak into the kitchen, look fiendishly over my shoulder and wolf down a hunk of bread slathered with homemade butter.
I thought I'd gotten away with it. You know what they say, though: What's done in darkness always comes to light. And now that Memorial Day is almost upon us, the high beams are on and I can no longer hide the results of my transgressions.
My wife has succeeded in feeding me so well I can't possibly go back to my six-pack. In truth, though, my six-pack days were gone even before I met LaVeta. However, I didn't think they were gone for good.
I always dreamed that I would someday go back to that svelte guy from my early 20s. I imagined I would emerge triumphant from the bonds of winter gluttony. I'd victoriously walk down the street striking random bodybuilder poses one summer. I thought this would be my year.
That dream is a distant memory now, and in some ways I'm glad. Now I can focus on the homemade ice cream my wife will make this summer. I can eat the food we'll barbecue this weekend without regret. I can embrace the roundness of my stomach, love the taste of my food and enjoy my homemade meals.
This Memorial Day I can finally have fun again, and for that, I blame my wife.
Solomon Jones is the Essence best-selling author of 10 books, and an award-winning Philadelphia columnist who has been covered by NPR and CNN Headline News. Visit his website here.