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Perfect college diet calls for one serving of AFC, lifetime supply of Hot Pockets

I recently realized that a health craze now rules everything in our society. Everywhere you look there are gyms, or people working out in gyms, or people on their way to the gym, or home gyms, or guys named Jim, or guys named Jim who work out in gyms and own home gyms. You get the idea.

All of the people I know are watching their weight and watching each other's weight. When you go to the movies, you can't even ask for hot fudge on your popcorn without people looking at you funny. And people point at you when you're on the treadmill and happen to be eating a bacon cheeseburger with a side of chicken-fried steak. It's really gotten out of control.

But I must admit I've given into the health insanity as well. I'm on a diet, but it's great. It consists of all-you-can-eat junk food, Pop-Tarts and cheap pasta with sodas to drink. It's called "college."

Every University student knows there are certain staples to the college diet, the most important one being ramen noodles. I'm pretty certain that if there were no ramen noodles, the majority of college students would die of starvation.

You can almost see the two detectives trying to uncover why the college town is deserted:

Rookie: "It's sickening! There's nobody left alive. What could have possibly caused such a horrible tragedy?"

Veteran Detective: "Ramen noodles."

Rookie: "What?"

Veteran Detective: "They ran out of ramen. I've seen it all before. When will they learn?"

Personally, I'm glad college is based on microwave-ready dinners and $0.99 hamburgers, because I can't cook, and, more importantly, I hate to cook.

I just can't convince myself that all the shopping, preparation, preheating, measuring, mixing, slicing, dicing, stirring, timing, baking, heating, grilling, frying and serving is worth it. And even after I've done all that, my toast still comes out too spicy.

The truth is my cooking skills consist of remembering to take the wrapper off the microwaveable burrito. But I still consider myself a good cook because I have many friends who nuke the burrito with the plastic wrapper on and then complain it's too chewy. Plus, there are countless people in this country who avoid cooking as actively as I do. (Actually, there are four.)

One reason I avoid cooking is that - even when I do cook - it doesn't come out right. For example, I recently got up the energy to cook a gourmet chicken dish with a light wine sauce, and despite all my time and effort, I forgot about the chicken and just got plastered off the wine.

I guess my disinterest in cooking stems from my mom's less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward it. Don't get me wrong, my mom does have some things she can cook well. Her pecan pie is among the best, although you can gain close to 300 pounds from one serving.

However, some of my mom's other cooking does not turn out so well. Once during my sophomore year of high school, she baked cookies for a class party, and they turned out to have the structural integrity of granite. I don't know how she did it, but these cookies could have withstood nuclear testing.

In fact, when the students had a food fight, my mom's cookies were off-limits because they might hurt someone. Then someone dropped one of the impenetrable balls of hardened dough out a third-story window, and it didn't so much as dent.

There are basically two reasons my mom's cooking comes out wrong. First, I don't believe my mom has any sense of taste, so everything seems good to her. I think all adults lose their sense of taste as they get older. When you're little, you can't stand the taste of things like mustard because they're too strong. Then, by your 30s, you put mustard on everything because otherwise you can't taste it. And just a few short years after that, you have to set fire to your tongue just to know you're actually eating something.

The second reason my mom's not the best cook is that she's always on the go. So if she doesn't have an ingredient she needs, she'll substitute whatever else is handy. If the recipe calls for creamed corn, and we don't have any, she'll substitute corned beef. Or if an ice cream pie recipe calls for chocolate syrup, and we've run out, she'll instead use dog food.

I can't really blame her because I don't like devoting much time to cooking either. If - at the final stages of cooking a meal - I find out I don't have a crucial ingredient, I usually throw the food at passing motorists. So obviously I've inherited some of my mother's traits.

I guess we should just stop denying it - as college students, we are inevitably going to gravitate toward greasy junk food and sodas. How else can we explain the lines out the door at Littlejohn's every Friday and Saturday night? As far as I can tell, we're not going there for the atmosphere, although hanging around dozens of drunk people depressed from a bad party night does make me feel warm and fuzzy inside ... or maybe that's just the meatball sub.


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