Robert St. John column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

St. John: ‘We the (Obese) People’ propose several laws of our own

My home state has made national headlines once again.

Three legislators in the Mississippi House of Representatives proposed a bill (HB 282) that would ban restaurants from serving obese people.

As a restaurateur and businessman, doing business in a state where more than 30% of the populace is obese, I am adamantly opposed to this law on many levels. As one who is considered by the government’s standards, obese, I am in opposition because I enjoy eating out, and eating out often (hence the obesity).

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What are we restaurateurs to do? Keep a set of scales at the hostess stand and weigh each customer once they walk through the door?

“Good evening, welcome to Bob’s House of Pork. Three for dinner? O.K., you two heifers come step on the scales, there’s no way you’re eating here tonight.”

If this bill passes, be assured that there will be restaurants which don’t weigh customers. All of the fat people (me included) will know where the non-weighing restaurants are located (probably all-you-can-eat buffets) giving them an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

As a kid, I knew all of the places that didn’t check I.D.s, as an adult I’ll do the same, trading pitchers of cheap beer and grape-flavored malt liquor for catfish and hushpuppies.

If HB 282 passes, I would like to propose a few pieces of legislation of my own:

HB 282A: The Hunting Law. Many Mississippians are shot in hunting accidents every year. I propose that IQ tests be administered at all locations which distribute hunting licenses. If the applicant’s IQ is not 125 or above, they have no business walking around in the woods with a loaded shotgun. Talk about saving lives. HB 282A, my friends, will do just that.

HB 282B: The Driving Bill: HB 282B would require that all licensed Mississippi drivers retake the Mississippi drivers license exam every time they travel more than 10 highway miles in the passing lane without passing another automobile. Somewhere along the way, our local driving instructors quit teaching the section in the manual which covers how the passing lane is supposed to work. It ain’t hard, people: Once you pass someone, get back into the right-hand lane.

HB 282C: The National News Media Interview Law: This law would require a minimum of a sixth-grade education and a nominal grasp of the English language before anyone is allowed to speak to a reporter on national television.

The state of Mississippi will also publish a list of approved adjectives and similes to be used in such interviews so our citizenry can come up with better descriptions than how the tornado sounded “like a freight train” or how “harshly” the alien’s probing methods were carried out once inside the UFO.

HB 282D: The Delta Heritage Law: HB 282D would require all citizens of the Mississippi Delta to limit their ancestral discussions to a minimum of 45 minutes per dining period. During the allotted time period, said genealogy buff may only go back four generations without receiving a warning citation. HB 282E; The Florence-Richland Bypass Law. This has nothing to do with the others, but while I am proposing laws, I would love to see the highway department build a bypass around Florence and Richland. I have nothing against these two communities, it’s just that it takes me 90 minutes to get to Jackson and 30 minutes of it is spent in the last five miles of the trip.

HB 282F: The Potato Salad Allocation. No more than four batches of potato salad will be allowed in any home during a funeral or wake, no more than three green bean casseroles at any single covered-dish supper.

Three cheers for good government, of the person (me), for the person (me), and by the person (me). Now pass the hushpuppies.

(For this week’s recipe, Hushpuppies, go to the blog on <> .

(Robert St.John is an author, chef, restaurateur, and world-class eater. He is the author of six books including the newly released Southern Seasons. He can be reached at <> .)