The Omelette Parlor on Main Street is one of the many places that I like to have business meetings. I’ve been going there for over a decade. Over the years I’ve had many an occasion to have breakfast or lunch served up amid the memorabilia of times gone by. From the autographed poster of one former body builder and governor, to the historic pictures of Santa Monica, the entire environment is warm and inviting with a nod to a gentler time. The omelets are named after local luminaries and have a kitschy feel that adds to the warmth.
I like the portions and high quality of the food. It’s not greasy and oily like other breakfast spots. There’s one place in town where the egg white omelet was swimming in oil, which rather defeats the purpose of having an egg white omelet.
Last week I was at the OP with my writing partner. We were discussing the final revisions to our book, which deals with co-parenting a pet with an ex. As we were checking out, I look up and there is this very large picture of the Santa Monica beach in 1946. It is covered with people sitting on towels and they are close to each other and you can imagine the partying that was going on and the vibrancy of youth as they enjoy the summer.
Looking at that picture, everyone is fit. Not fit in the Abercrombie & Fitch model way, but fit in the way that Americans used to look. It was a time when most men sported the Don Draper look of a tailored suit, and women wore clothing that accentuated their natural curves. It was a time when men had broad shoulders and women had hourglass silhouettes.
The contrast between the beach of 1946 and 2011 had never struck me until that moment when my partner pointed it out to me. That afternoon, as I was walking my dog on the Santa Monica Pier, I was acutely aware of the level of obesity in Americans today. It was truly shocking to see the comparison of America 1946 and 2011. In a mere 65 years, essentially an average lifetime, we have gone from a country that was fit and trim to one where two-thirds of our country is overweight or obese.
I’ve known these numbers for years now, but the old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words totally came true for me last week. It was a real eye opener for me. Because of the historical context of the picture and the contrast with the reality of the pier and the families that were on the beach, I saw what I hadn’t seen before.
The saddest part is not the adults that are overweight, but the number of children that are not only overweight and obese, but learning horrendous dietary habits. On the one hand it is easy to claim that McDonald’s Ray Kroc and the fast food industry that he helped grow are the culprits. Lots of people want to blame high-fructose corn syrup for the evils of the obesity epidemic, but that really exonerates the parents and the individual from taking responsibility for their behavior.
Now I’m no saint in this. To begin with, I don’t have a child, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of fast food, and huge portions of linguine alfredo. I’m a big fan of pizza and there are few things in this world that a good In-N-Out Double-Double and a chocolate shake wont make me feel better about. But I can’t blame the restaurants for what I put in my mouth.
Lots of us know what we are supposed to eat, and we choose the cheeseburger over the salad, even though it leads us to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. In the 1946 picture the people were very likely to be smokers and heavy drinkers. Not healthy behavior, but as a nation we have recognized that smoking is bad for our health and most of us are now non- or ex-smokers. Many of us have quit drinking or severely curtailed our consumption.
The next big area is going to be our food intake, both the quantity, and the quality. Seeing a chubby baby at 5 months is one very cute thing. Seeing an 8 year old who is morbidly obese is not. It’s a travesty. It’s borderline child abuse in my book.
In one lifetime we’ve gone from healthy to unhealthy. We can change it back in a lifetime also.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.