On food: I ate breakfast — and lived

Originally published July 12, 1991

There has been a lot of discussion, not to mention a Time cover, recently regarding the fact there's not much left we can eat without taking serious health risks.

Red meat causes cancer. Chicken and pork aren't safe. Seafood isn't inspected well enough. Everything that's good contains too much cholesterol.

Avoid caffeine, sugar, sodium, butter, anything that's fried, exotic sauces (I presume gravy comes under that) and never eat white bread.

Basically, that leaves broccoli as the only thing left to eat, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend the rest of my life eating only what looks like the Jolly Green Giant's brain stem and has all the taste of a house plant.

I think a lot of this comes from some doctors and researchers who have a lot of free time on their hands. When I get free time, I go play golf. When some doctors and researchers have time to spare, they sit around and think of ways to make our lives less enjoyable.

Having always been something of a rebel (I never bought a leisure suit back in the '70s), I decided recently to test these new nutritional theories and go out and have a meal of everything that is bad for you and see if it, indeed, killed me.

I went to the Waffle House for breakfast. I love the Waffle House.

The food is consistent, they don't serve anything you can't pronounce, and the grease in the air cuts down on the amount of mousse I must put in my hair to keep my GQ look.

Here's what I ordered: Steak and eggs. One T-bone steak, cooked medium well, and two eggs, sunnyside up. I also had hash browns and white toast, heavily buttered. I had a cup of coffee - leaded - as I awaited my meal. I had a Coke - The Real Thing - with it.

The waitress, Margie, said to me, "I'll be glad to bring your order, but first you'll have to sign a release."

"A what?"

"A release saying if you eat all this and drop dead in the parking lot, we can't be held liable."

I signed the release.

The meal came.

It was swimming in grease and butter. There was enough cholesterol there to clog up the arteries of four grown elephants, if there are four grown elephants left.

I ate it anyway. Ate the whole thing. That was 10 days ago. I still feel fine.

I know what you're saying, "Well, just having one meal like that won't hurt you."

That's not the point. The point is, you've got to take a stand somewhere. If we don't say to health officials, "Enough is enough, " they'll keep digging until they take all our pleasures away, Waffle Houses all over the country will be forced to close, and everybody will become vegetarians, and every vegetarian I ever met was pale, wimpish and without humor.

Not only that, but all those cows and pigs and chickens we used to eat will be running all over the place, becoming a nuisance to traffic and leaving a lot of stuff on the sidewalk we'll be stepping in.

To be perfectly honest about it, I'd rather give up a few extra years eating what I please than to live to be a miserable 106-year-old vegetarian who is always getting a lot of smelly stuff on his shoes.

All the Waffle House waitresses watched me as I walked into the parking lot after my meal, incidentally. When I didn't drop dead, they cheered.