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Jewish World Review July 30, 1999 /17 Av, 5759

Julia Gorin

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Econophone

Why I'm eating so much chocolate

http://www.jewishworldreview.com --
I WAS DOING SO WELL in 1996. America was still stable, and so was my weight.

Iíd managed to keep off the 16 pounds I lost in 1994 for a whopping three years. In a city where one is surrounded by so much chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, and even better-tasting imported versions of the same, that wasnít easy.

But national and international developments over the past two years have made my outlook increasingly fatalistic. I feel weíre moving toward some explosive times, just when American security is in such a compromised state. The potential for world destruction is going up, and my chocolate intake is going up with it.

Because if Iím going out, Iím going out fat.

Recently, the world learned that not only did our president know about nuclear technology leaks to China and was reluctant to plug them, but the reason he pleaded ignorance on the issue was to hide the fact that declassifying nuclear secrets has been his administrationís strategy for international security all along.

Nerve-wracking! I had to reach right for the unopened box of imported chocolate wafers Iíd picked up on Brighton Beach, and eat what was left. Then I tried to paraphrase to myself this new policy of achieving a worldwide nuclear balance: "To avoid war, we should lose our edge and share our secrets."

This is the first administration, then, to pursue the sophisticated foreign policy of, "If you love everybody, everybody will love you back," or: "If confronted by a tiger in the jungle, graciously extend your hand."

Presumably, adults came up with this. So I tried saying it to myself still another way, to make sure Iíd gotten it right: "Real security lies in collective knowledge." Especially if youíre a benevolent democracy that spent $400 billion researching breakthrough technology and youíd like to save a totalitarian regime time and money so that it can hurry up and disseminate the information to a few dictatorships.

Then the following question occurred to me: With Bill Clinton in office, who needs the Rosenbergs? That thought called for a trip downstairs to the Good Humor truck.

As I pondered my countryís precarious position, I foresaw a world in the not too distant future, in which the American Empireís days were numbered. And I got to thinking, if such a world did become our reality, then whatís my incentive to put in all those hard hours at the gym and monitor the circumference of my behind? I mean, if thereís a third world war, I may not make itóand if I do make it, there might not be an America left to look good for. This realization led me to a parfait of chocolate mousse, with a side of seven-layer cake.

My downward slide began in 1997. Thatís when I started turning pessimistic. That year the administration stepped up pressure on Israel to forge ahead with the land-for-peace plan and not take things too personally if a few bombs went off here and there. Even as Yassir Arafat, the Westís new sweetheart, made speeches to neighboring Arab states, calling the Oslo Accords a first step toward the ultimate destruction of Israel, we continued trying to appease the unappeasableóforces who like us about as much as they like Israelówhile offering up an ally and the only democracy in the Middle East as a sacrificial lamb.

That year I ate a lot of that sweet, chalky-textured Middle Eastern delicacy called Halvaóchocolate when I could find it, and marble when I couldnít. I tried baklava too, but it doesnít come in chocolate and itís got too many nuts--and I donít like when dessert has nuts in it.

Iíve gained 30 pounds since 1997. Thatís because, since 1997, the Leader of the Free World has been taken less seriously than ever before, and anti-U.S. sentiment and terrorism are at an all-time high. It is also the first time an American president has been saying things like, "America is not for an independent Taiwan," (a statement which was immediately followed by a congressional resolution affirming the countryís support for an independent Taiwan); or "I think we owe it to the Chinese government to listen to their arguments against democratic reforms."

Among the more embarrassing developments, most of which the American people forgave before they even occurred, there was a year of Monica Lewinsky.

The more Bill Clinton lied, the more dessert I ate. One day, I ran to the cupboard, but the only thing left was Count Chocula. I didnít have any milk, but that didnít stop me from eating the whole box as I forced myself to accept the popular notion that character is irrelevant in a leader (even though Clarence Thomasís and Bob Packwoodís experiences implied otherwise).

Soon enough, we attacked Yugoslavia, with a clear mission to overshadow Chinagate, a treasonous foreign policy, as well as a looming legacy of Lewinsky with its Juanita Broaddrick aftershock. In response to this most recent development, I strongly recommend Chocolate Blackout Cake, washed down with an Oreo milkshake.

Iíve always found Americaís international meddling defensible, but Kosovo put us in the indefensible position of attacking a sovereign state for putting down an insurrection within its borders. Then, as this ill-begotten and ill-fated vanity war turned into an ever bigger mess, with the "good guys" lying about their blunders while the "bad guys" told the truth, I thought that perhaps the president would sleep with Lewinsky again just to re-switch the headlines.

And now that everyone more or less spits on America, with the Russians not even checking in with the West before moving their peacekeepers into the area, Iíll have to get one of those oversized chocolate-chip cookies the diners sometimes sell. Because the way I see it, China was our warning, Lewinsky was the window of opportunity we missed, Kosovo was the consequence, and the three-scoop fudge-brownie sundaes Iíve been downing throughout are a repercussion.

And thatís not much, compared to the Mississippi Mudcake, possibly ala mode, which Iíll have to eat when America descends to the status of Most Negligible State at the international tableóif weíre still invited to the tableówithout so much as our credibility going for us.

Should the day come when our society is reduced to a post-WWIII Road Warrior-type existence, and weíre at the mercy of some less benevolent giants, and there isnít a single ice cream parlor left standing, "B.C." will come to stand for "Before Clinton," and "A.D." will mean "After the Devastation."

If I make it through to such an era, and it comes time for me to pass on, I just hope Iím not too heavy to float up to Heaven. Because it would be really embarrassing to bump into Bill Clinton in the other place and not even have him hit on me.



JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a stand-up comic and journalist residing in Manhattan. Send your comments to her by clicking here.

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©1999, Julia Gorin