Diet, schmiet.

“Live every day like it’s your last.”

My dad is certainly taking that advice to heart. Which, ironically, is probably bad for his heart.

We found out about the cancer when my dad was rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. His third. While his smoking was likely the main culprit in his health decline, his eating regimen might have been an accomplice as well. My dad has always been a meat and potatoes man, minus the potatoes. What’s the point in eating those when you can just have more meat?

Since receiving his diagnosis, he has thrown all dietary caution to the wind. It began when he was still in the hospital. Because a heart attack put him there, he was placed on the cardiac diet – or in his words, the “no flavor” diet. Not to say that he could eat only fruits and vegetables; on the contrary, hamburgers, beef stew, and even bacon were on the menu. I think my dad might have set a record for ordering the most hamburgers in a row of any patient ever admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital. And the puny side salad that came with it? He would immediately shove it toward me. “You’re a vegetarian. That’s what you eat anyway.”

Once he came home, my dad made up for lost time. Now that I have become his personal chauffeur, I accompany him each time he goes on a grocery store run. If Jamie Oliver were to look into my dad’s cart, he’d cry hot, silent tears. Hotdogs. Meatballs. Frozen Salisbury steaks. Oh, and a bottle of V8. Can’t forget those veggies.

My dad’s passion for meat is rivaled only by his ardor for desserts. He doesn’t discriminate. Cake, muffins, ice cream, candy bars, cookies – it’s all the same sweet goodness to him. Unfortunately, my dad happens to be an extremely generous man, so each time he sits down with a sweet, he insists that I have some as well. I can almost hear the seams on my jeans screaming for mercy.

He used to also fancy himself quite the cook – my dad can make a mean steak so I remember – but nowadays would rather just throw a Stouffer’s into the microwave. Since I neither eat nor cook meat, he waves off any dish I want to make. So aside from his sweet treats and frozen meats, the only other culinary option my dad will consider is takeout.

It began with Jimmy John’s. Before I moved in with my father, he’d tell me to pick up a few sandwiches prior to heading over to his place. At first, I was more than happy to oblige. For some unfathomable reason, Los Angeles doesn’t have Jimmy John’s, so I was downright giddy to grab a #5 and #6 before seeing him. The store was just down the block from his condo anyway, so it took only about 90 seconds (they are crazy fast at JJ’s!) to get my sandwiches and get on my way. So convenient. Too convenient.

Apparently my father is a man of habit because one week we got Jimmy John’s about four days in a row. I didn’t think it possible, but I was all JJ’ed out. Given that nearly the entire menu is inedible to me, I soon tired of my once favorite #6. So I Jedi mind tricked my dad into going somewhere – anywhere – else. I convinced him to try Potbelly… and now we’ve probably eaten there about 15 times in the last month. My dad finds the roasted goodness of the Italian subs at Potbelly highly superior to the bland cold cuts of Jimmy John’s. I once got him to try Jersey Mike’s, but the disdain on his face when informed that the Reuben doesn’t come on rye immediately told me that we would never pass through their doors again. He hates Subway, but won’t elaborate on why. And Chipotle’s meat is too hard. Now no matter what I suggest, he asks for Potbelly. And though my belly is aching for something different, I will not say a word. If my dad is on a mission to eat as many Potbelly Italian sandwiches as humanly possible while he has the strength and appetite to do so, far be it from me to oppose his quest.

Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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