I can’t even count the number of times I’ve asked myself: “Why wasn’t I born an obese mouse?”
Of course, there have always been plenty of reasons for wanting to be a pudgy rodent, including that it’s socially acceptable for these critters to eat an entire cheese ball at one sitting.
A more compelling reason to want to be a fat ball of fur is the chance to lose 40 percent of your body weight without dieting, exercising—or deciding: “What the hell! I’ve really been meaning to get rid of a few internal organs anyway.”
Perhaps you remember the news announced in the Journal of Science, a magazine that even the publisher admits rarely outsells its competitor, Babes and Beakers.
The excitement centered around a bunch of portly mice, which, despite their own claims—“We have no idea who ate the 50-gallon drum of peanut butter”—weighed three times as much as average mice.
Then, scientists started injecting them with a genetically engineered hormone called leptin, a term derived from the Greek word “leptos,” which means, “Where’s the forklift? No way I’m picking up this mouse.”
After two weeks of daily injections, something amazing happened. The tubby mice began to eat less, burned more fat, and ended up losing almost half their body weight.
As scientists basked in the glory of their successful experiment, a behind-the-scenes tragedy began unfolding. In fact, it’s my understanding that many of the formerly obese mice have found it profoundly difficult to transition from “Hey! Look at the cute, chubby mouse” to “Yikes! Call the Orkin man.”
For example, one mouse, who now goes by the name Cyndee, has become really stuck-up and obnoxious. She has disowned all the mice she used to happily scrounge around with in the dumpster. She now spends her days sipping expensive tap water with a bunch of mindless aspiring actress/model mice who, everyone knows, have unnaturally perky tails.
More tragic is the story of Alice and Bill. She had been his loving mate for three years, and the mother of their 47 children. When she lost all that weight, he left her. His excuse was: “Now, the cat’s gonna want to eat me instead of you.”
But Alice believes Bill was threatened by her newfound independence, and that more than one mouse has intimated he wouldn’t mind a “good roll in the insulation” with her.
Alice has moved on, though, having found happiness with a mouse who is self-assured, sensitive, and loves romantic walks on toxic beaches.
Bill, according to some accounts, is now living in a trailer park with an oversized, furry throw pillow.
The most heart-wrenching story of all, however, is that of Jimmy.
Growing up, Jimmy always knew he was different. The other mice avoided him like the plague, which, in all fairness, he may well have had. Forced to be a loner, he spent his formative years nibbling on a discarded case of government-issued “cheese-food.”
After the leptin study, though, Jimmy thought for sure his life would finally turn around. And it has, although some believe it has been a turn for the worse.
Many say Jimmy has sold out—that the once-sweet, lonely mouse has become a money-grubbing opportunist. While he claims his only goal is to “hug every overweight rodent on the planet,” the consensus is that he’s just out to make a buck.
Rumor has it that a “Slim Down With Jimmy” infomercial is in the works, and that he’s about to introduce a line of fat-free cheese-grain-paper scraps snacks. There’s even talk of a five-picture development deal in which Jimmy would star and direct in a series of films that are thin on plot, but feature both gratuitous sex and violence.
The old Jimmy would never have agreed to such a deal. And it makes you wonder: Is Jimmy’s post-leptin life really a better one? What price are we willing to pay for the magic cure for permanent weight loss?
It’s certainly something to think about. But not on an empty stomach!
This Thanksgiving, I’m off to my friend Randy’s sumptuous all-the-trimmings buffet. He’s promised to serve his famous port wine cheese balls rolled in walnuts.
Personally, I’d prefer government cheese-food balls rolled in grain and paper scraps, but, hey, consider the source.
Bye for now.
Happy Thanksgiving, and eat hearty!