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By Bill Mead
Columnist Emeritus 

To hell with healthy food

The Overall Picture


Today, We Honor The Overall Man Classic Bill Mead

Reprinted with permission

I’m sure it has already occurred to you that we don’t age at a steady rate. We go along for years feeling good and looking presentable and then all of a sudden the passing years gang up on us and we start feeling unfamiliar pains and gasping at our images in the mirror. It seems to happen almost overnight.

I was still hiking all over the mountains in my early fifties. Now a stroll around the block leaves me wheezing. When I ride a little too far on my bike, I have a muscle around my left hip that starts begging for mercy.

All that pales alongside the fact that my arteries are hardening. When I flunked my last stress test the doctor turned me over to a cardiologist who gave me a long list of stuff I’m not supposed to eat anymore. The forbidden list includes nearly everything I like.

Naturally I have gone back to eating a lot of the things that supposedly made me what I am today, a walking mass of solidified cholesterol.

Now that I have turned atheistic about healthy food I’m not sure I’ll have anything to talk about at parties because most small talk these days focuses on calories, cholesterol, and carcinogens. Clark Gable spoke for me when he said,”Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I believe he said that after Scarlett suggested he lay off the southern fried chicken.

From now on I will eat whatever I please without a twinge of guilt. I have this sneaky feeling that most of the talk about what’s good for us to eat is mostly baloney (which has too much salt, is high in cholesterol, and may cause forms of cancer). Furthermore, I don’t believe that eating stuff that tastes like oat hay can stretch out our lives enough to make up for the misery. If it does, why don’t we see any 90-year-old horses?

At my age it’s too late to do right in the chow line anyhow so there is no point in avoiding decent food on the slim chance I’ll survive a few days longer.

Did anybody mention Boston cream pie?

If you don’t know Bill: Bill Mead was the longtime publisher of the Tehachapi News, along with Betty Mead, his wife and partner of more than 50 years. Known for his keen wit, which could be gentle or scathing or somewhere in between but was often self-deprecatory, Bill’s writing won him a wide following among News readers. His column “The Overall Picture” ran in the News for more than 25 years, and in 1999 he published a collection of his columns in a volume entitled The Napa Valley Outhouse War. His book is currently available for sale at the Tehachapi Museum for $10.

Bill had a remarkable mind and because of his intelligence, humor and appearance he was regarded by many as Tehachapi’s Mark Twain. As Betty used to remind him, he was “older than the oldest Model A Ford” and his wealth of life experiences and rural upbringing allowed him to bring a thoroughly American, 20th century perspective to his reflections and musings on the everyday.

Bill passed away in 2008 but his writing lives on.

[Publisher’s note: I read Bill’s articles during the 80s and 90s and 20s and I am grateful to share them now with our current readers. I hope you enjoy this touch of nostalgia as much as I do.]


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