Nancy Roman

Oh, The Irony!

Yes, my husband complained about the hardships of preparing a sandwich, while I was cooking dinner. (“Let’s Put It In Context“)

But writing about that little incident reminded me that my husband isn’t alone in failing to recognize bad timing.

Let’s go back a few years… forty to be exact.

(Oh yeah, I still remember. It’s a scientific fact the tiniest little hurts go into a special place in a female brain that saves them forever.)

My last year of college.

I lived in a dorm that many years earlier had been a sorority house. The building was a bit bedraggled, but there was a vestige from the sorority days that was rare and wondrous.  We were in possession of a fabulous cook.

Our cook made Lobster Newburg for lunch. Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding was standard fare for dinner. You wouldn’t find me going out for pizza. (I had no money, but that’s not the point.)

Most kids gain weight in college because no one supervises how much junk food they are eating. I gained weight in college because, although not a member of any sorority, I had joined one organization – The Clean-Plate Club.

I never missed a meal.

Until one day. I stayed late after my Mark Twain class (the professor was cute in that elbow-patched way), and I missed lunch.  That had never happened. I ran back to the dorm as fast as my wooden hippie clogs could go without shooting them off as dangerous projectiles.

Kids were finishing up in the dining room, but the food had already been cleared. I went into the kitchen and asked our crazy but talented chef if there was anything left. There was not, but she made me a sandwich, which I devoured right there in the kitchen. (I’m a fast eater. I think it stems from my oldest sister always wanting to ‘neaten up’ my ice cream cone.)

The chef had more bad news. Not only had she made cheeseburger clubs for lunch (my favorite), she had made brownies for dessert. And they were gone too.

“But here,” she said, “Hold out your hand.”  And she poured me a good handful of walnuts.

Back in the dining room, there were a few stragglers still hanging around, including my friend Franny and her boyfriend.

I sat down with them and ate my walnuts.

“Geez, Nancy,” Fran said, “Do you know how many calories there are in those walnuts?”

And she picked up her books and went off to class.

I was embarrassed and guilt-ridden. As I said, I had never missed a meal that whole year. And I had gained weight. My friend was telling me that I was getting fat. Yikes.

(Yes, I had gained weight. I had gone from a size 5 to a size 7.)

God, I felt terrible.  Fran was so slim and gorgeous. She had no ass at all.  And she had a tremendous boyfriend. Whereas I had a tremendous ass and no boyfriend at all.

Still sitting across from me, Fran’s tremendous boyfriend laughed.

“Ironic,” he said, and I was humiliated yet again by his laughter.

 Until he explained:

 “I don’t think Franny realized she was brushing off her brownie crumbs when she said that.”

1974. Getting fat on walnuts.


  1. I ate cookies through my freshman year of college, for mental health. I am still working them off. Love your humor.


  2. Love it! Thanks for the laugh and the reminder that sometimes people just have bad timing.


  3. A size 7 tremendous ass? You should have sketched that as I can’t quite picture it.


    • There’s no explaining the workings of a self-conscious twenty-year-old woman’s brain. I just recently saw this poster: “I wish I was as thin as I was when I thought I was fat.”


  4. I could eat like a horse when I was in university and not put on a pound – thought I would be like that for the rest of my life – boy did I get an awakening –I am not big by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I thin–I took those days so for granted


  5. I loved this story. Totally brought me back to my own time in college, only I was eating at a cafeteria that served pure rubbish on a plate.

    “I stayed late after my Mark Twain class (the professor was cute in that elbow-patched way), and I missed lunch. That had never happened. I ran back to the dorm as fast as my wooden hippie clogs could go without shooting them off as dangerous projectiles.” This paragraph was superb!


    • Thanks… those shoes were really hard to keep on! Especially with slippery socks.


      • I had shoes just like them — wooden soled clogs, which I wore with Daisy Duke shorts. *cringe* I went through a 70s phase in college right after the movie Dazed and Confused came out!


        • Yup, my fabulous fashion sense back then is nostalgic and quaint today. But I was Woodstock all the way.


  6. midlifemeg

    I love all your posts. I read them aloud to my coworkers sometimes. Today I read the ass/ boyfriend line. Genius.


  7. Hey, he was a tremendous guy.


  8. Oh my god, those meals sound so much better than the cans of beefaroni and bags of ramon noodles I ate to avoid the “food” in the cafeteria. They couldn’t even get the cereal right.


    • That dorm had some of the best food I ever ate. Since it used to be a sorority house, we had handsome guys serve us at dinner, in return for free meals. We had a waiting list for these non-paying waiter jobs.


  9. ass/boyfriend line. best. ever. (till your next best ever.)


  10. Wow, this sounded so familiar, even down to the wooden hippie clogs, only mine were the wooden Dr. Scholl’s sandals I wore even when there was snow on the ground. I gained weight my freshman year. Once I ate a whole loaf of raisin bread while studying. Um…I think I could do that again if I allowed myself some leeway.


  11. Michelle Gillies

    Oh, I do love the irony. I also love this…”(Oh yeah, I still remember. It’s a scientific fact the tiniest little hurts go into a special place in a female brain that saves them forever.)”
    All these years I have been told that I was the only one!


    • It’s been well-documented. (at least by me)


  12. I read ‘tremendous ass’ to mean you had a great ass and simply no time for a boyfriend.

    Was I wrong?

    As normal you have put me in the best mood for the morning, sometimes I am glad I am late to the game.


  13. Great story! I also never forget a slight, and wait years for a “so there!” opportunity. Thanks for a good laugh!


  14. You were just ahead of your time! Because we now know, of course, that the fat in nuts comes from heart-healthy oils. (Not that I needed that information in order to enjoy a nut-enriched diet).


  15. Ah, university, that fine institute of higher learning. That’s where I learned it’s not actually possible to eat and drink absolutely everything in sight without gaining weight. Shocking, I know. Thirty years later, I’ve finally managed to get back down to approximately the weight I was when I was at my fattest in university…


  16. Hilarious. I lived at home during university so didn’t get to experience institutional eating. I wonder which was better.


    • I think we were the only dormitory in educational history to have wonderful food. The only other person I know who liked the food at school was my mother. She went to nurses’ training after high school. Her parents were Polish immigrants and she had never eaten much American food. Her mother boiled every piece of meat they ever had. She thought hospital food was absolutely delicious. Go figure.


  17. I think I would have felt the strong desire to marry Franny’s boyfriend.


  18. pharphelonus

    College food. Yum. NOT. Great stuff Nancy.


  19. Thank you for the laughter this morning! What a great read


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