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Diet Help: Fast Food Fat Counter at

The Farewell Tour

by Mark Andel

     Two weeks post new year, my wife Linda recommended having a "Farewell Tour."

    That was enough to strike fear into my post-divorce heart, but what she

meant was saying good-bye to the fast food establishments we've known and

loved over the years and begin an austerity program. But not before having a

gluttonous celebration with them and spending some "quality time" with their

cheese sticks.

    We would spend the weekend visiting our favorite fast food restaurants

one more time - make absolute pigs of ourselves - and then at the end, we

would slide out of those orange plastic chairs, scrape incredible loads of

paper products into trash bins by the door from our plastic trays, and bid

them adieu.

    It seemed like a plan: so much better than going cold turkey (but if

you've ever had the cold turkey at Erik's Deli on Oak Park Avenue - I

digress). It was going to be tough. Not only would we eat meals out, we would

watch a few movies and load up on Milk Duds and popcorn, and Twizzlers - and

then say good-bye to those as well ("My sweet!"). I did happen to find a

Hershey with Almonds in my coat pocket yesterday, which I still haven't told

Linda about. I have to wait for the right moment. I fear slipping in one

night to find her at our well-lit kitchen table holding that sleek silver

wrapper with the chic block letter brown jacket and saying, "Is there

something you need to talk to me about?"

    For breakfast, it was going to be the bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit at

McDonald's. Ounce for ounce, it's a real contender in the fat-'n-calorie

festival that our Farewell Tour was all about. For lunch? Two slices of

Gigio's sausage pizza, the one near Broadway and Lawrence. Painted on the

window of this small joint under the el tracks is this line: "Best pizza in

town!" For years, no argument from me. "Buonissimo!" And now, "O Solo Mio!"

And dinner? We were watching "The Sopranos" on HBO, and in every other scene,

someone was eating pasta that looked gorgeous - with the emphasis on "gorge."

I had to get the meat ravioli at Napoli's. My wife had an Italian beef. And

it was over.

    It is over.

    Farewell and adieu.

    And now? The places that were left out play on my mind like scorned

lovers: the saganaki at Central Gyros ("Ooopahh!" it seems to cry out to me),

the steak-and-eggs at the Alpine on Irving Park, the barbecued pork chop

sandwich at U-Dawg-U on Touhy, the char dog at Flukey's on Western Avenue,

with the pickle relish that's as green as a field of clover, the warm  pecan

pie with whipped cream at Baker's Square.

    Farewell, old friends! We'll meet again.

    (Just not when my wife is with me.)