Nancy Roman

The Evil Trickster

After twenty-two years of loyal service, our precious scale died just before Christmas.  It stayed the loving companion to the end – expiring with the sweetest gesture a scale has ever delivered.  With its last dying breath, it said I weighed 87 pounds.

My husband buried it in the cellar – because he can’t throw anything away, and someday he might fix it, or it may miraculously recover.

We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond for a new scale. Bed, Bath & Beyond has a lot of Bed and Bath, but a plethora of Beyond. It was difficult to rein in my husband from the mixed nuts to concentrate on the scales.

There were twenty-one models to choose from. In one display.  Around the corner were six more, just in case you needed more choice. Prices ranged from $19.99 to $99.99.

They had analog and digital, stainless steel, glass, and wood. They had body composition analyzers and weight tracking units. One played music too. I’m not sure what song, but probably not “Sixteen Tons.”

I wanted the weight tracker.  It stored information for two people, named A and B. This would be very convenient because our blood pressure machine calls us A and B. (I’m B, but not because I’m less important or anything).

My husband thought $99 was too much for a scale. But I didn’t want the cheap ones with the needle that never stops wiggling. We settled on $39.99.

So we took the four possible selections off the shelf and tried them out. One was not a good test, since it didn’t have a battery. One had a tiny readout that you cannot read unless you crouch way down. One said that my husband had gained 18 pounds, and I then refused to give it a try. The last had a nice big readout – in a bright blue face. And it was pebbled glass, and so it would not be slippery. I guess this was in case you want to use it in the bathtub.

So we took it home. Once we opened the box we saw that the battery was corroded. I think this should have been a warning that the scale was evil.  But in our naiveté, we just went back out and bought a new battery.

We set it up in the dressing room, right where our old scale was. But the room is carpeted. Our old scale didn’t seem to mind the carpeting, but the new scale refused to cooperate. So we moved it to the bath, where the scale reluctantly turned itself on and gave us each a weight, which was within an acceptable range of what we thought we weighed. It did not memorize these weights or call us A and B. But my husband assured me that we would still be able to determine whose weight was whose, since my weight would only show up when I got on the scale, and his weight would only show up when he got on the scale. Yes, he’s logical.

Our old scale had a button you could use to set it to zero. So you could tweak it just a little. Now I am not a cheater, but it is reassuring to know that you can make sure the scale is at “-00” and not at “+00”, since you certainly wouldn’t want to add that plus thing to your starting point.

But our new scale has no set-zero adjustment. You just have to trust that it is being fair.

And I don’t think it is.

I think our scale is malicious. Or at a minimum, it has a nasty sense of humor .

Things started out okay. It gave me the same weight for four days – the same to the tenth of a pound, or 1.6 ounces. I thought that was a little unusual. Because I think my weight might vary by 1.6 ounces once in while. But now I see that the scale was just trying to lull me into complacency.

And then it hatched its scheme. Its scheme to  make me crazy. I can eat pecan pie in front of the TV all day and lose 1.4 pounds. Or I can go to Zumba and eat yogurt and carrot sticks, and the mischievous scale tells me I have gained 2.6 pounds.

Once I got suspicious I started weighing myself at night. This was a mistake, because I found it hard to sleep after being told I had gained 3.1 pounds during the day.

My husband says it’s normal to weigh more at night. But that means that sleeping makes you lose weight. I don’t think a nap is a good substitute for aerobics.

I have tried to catch it in the act. I get on and off the scale repeatedly and it won’t vary. But if I give it some time, it acts up. Just yesterday I lost 0.8 pounds in the shower. I was a little dirty, but perhaps not 12.8 ounces worth.

I got dressed and weighed myself again. I had 2.7 pounds worth of clothes. Then I got undressed and held my clothes. I had 3.1 pounds worth of clothes. Maybe clothes are heavier when you carry them than when you wear them. Maybe because you flex your muscles holding them in one pile.

Last night I got up at 3AM to pee. (If you are younger than me and snickering right now…. just you wait). Anyway, the scale was beckoning me, taunting me. I got on. I couldn’t help it. But I forgot I wasn’t wearing my glasses and so I only saw a vague blue glow. But I think it told me I weighed my husband’s weight.

This morning I told my husband I want a new scale. He says he likes this one. He loses 0.2 pounds every day.


  1. Helen

    So funny!! You had me at the beginning. My late husband kept everything… the basement, in the attic, in the garage, in his shop! I have had some of those experiences
    with the evil scale as well….just not as much fun!


    • He keeps everything. He’s very sad his mother threw away his old model airplanes.


  2. What is it with those guys? My husband never tosses a thing either. He has every insurance policy he’s ever been issued, every canceled check, every gas receipt and lottery ticket from 2003. Now I’m scared. Think I’ll check the attic for a scale. Excellent writing and funny piece.


    • He keeps the receipts from the cat food. Food my cats digested many years ago.


  3. This my friend is why there is nary a scale anywhere in my house, not one. They are malicious soul suckers.


    • I don’t own one, either. They lie in wait (weight?) and then they pounce.


  4. pharphelonus

    If the bathroom floor is tiled, the scale probably doesn’t like that either.


    • I will try it on the hardwood. I may make a nice conversation piece in the foyer.


      • pharphelonus



  5. I have the same scale!! And let’s not even begin to talk about the discrepancy that can exist between its reading and the one at the doctor’s office.


    • I always leave my shoes on at the doctor’s office. That way I can rationalize that my shoes weigh 11 pounds.


  6. I don’t think the $99.99 scale would work any better


    • For that price, it should subtract a pound or two… the same way really expensive clothes are sized so that you can wear a low number.


  7. I, too, have one of those scales. I can gain or lose as much as 2.5 pounds over a few hours (whether I eat or not, wear clothes, or hold my breath) and no matter how hard I’ve tried to lose that last pound (to reach my 10 pound weight loss goal) it simply refuses to display a 0 based round number (I’m beginning to think there is no ‘0’ at the end, just 1 through 9!) Maybe if I stand on one foot …


  8. My scale is also weird. It only had even numbered digits after the decimal point. Nothing ever weighs 10.5 lbs. It would either be 10.4 or 10.6. Odd. Great post.


    • I hope that machine is rounding DOWN. Or wait… if it is rounding up, then you are lighter than you think… and that would be good too!


  9. Scales are evil. I don’t use one at home; I weight myself twice a week at the gym. And it’s exactly as you say: the week I shovel down extra helpings and desserts and beer, I lose two pounds. The week I control my portions and eat nothing but healthy food, I gain two pounds. I’ve given up on the whole thing. As long as I hit somewhere in a 5-pound range (and the 5-pound range isn’t going up), it’s good enough.


  10. I got really worried when my bathroom scale told me I weighed 59.8 kilos. But then – don’t ask how – I discovered that it was adding 2 kilos, it never actually went down to zero. Imagine! Overnight, I shed 2 kilos! Amazing! Now I love that little 8@5t@rd (lol).


    • I could switch mine to kilos…. (there’s a setting for that), and then I would get a much lower number, but the word “kilo” itself seems so HEAVY.


  11. I just went to the doctor this morning and it was five pounds lighter than the one at my home. Yippee! I knew something was wrong with the scale at home, but my husband didn’t believe me. Treated myself to frozen yogurt to celebrate.


    • I would keep your scale forever. That way whenever you weigh yourself, you can be reassured that you are really lighter than that.


  12. I think all scales are evil. Of course it could be a case of “the truth hurts”. I swear I hear an audible groan and then “hey lady, one at a time!” every time I step on one.


  13. we recently replaced our scale with a $19.99 scale. it’s kinda like the man at the fair that guesses your weight. sometimes it’s fairly close to reasonable. sometimes it’s just nutty. you never know what you’re gonna get.


  14. I enjoy a good scaling like the next woman, but mine, while accurate — or what I assume to be accurate — most of the time, sometimes reads 148, then 170, then 155.

    You can guess which weight I prefer. 🙂



  15. I have two scales I want to return to BB&B (which has a forever return policy). They are possessed, both of them. My husband and I were suspicious about which was more accurate of the two. So we devised a test.

    I am currently going to a dietitian. She weighed me. I raced home, and nothing passed my lips. I weighed myself wearing exactly the same amount of clothing, no shoes. One scale showed .5 less than the dietitians. The other 8 lbs more. Obviously the first was the good one.

    But it doesn’t always work. I can gain 5 lbs by farting. I can lose it by blowing my nose. We now have the two scales side by side. They never say the same thing. They are always different from each other and from the amount that came up two seconds earlier.

    I fear returning them to BB&B because I have an old friend who works in the returns department. She tells the funniest stories of people and what they return. Imagine the stories the clerk I get will tell about the fat woman who returned TWO scales!


    • I think there may be a scientific explanation on the farts. Gas is lighter than air, right? So you are lighter when you have gas. When you let it out…. you gain weight. So as a corollary – if you eat enough beans, you could float away.


      • They are strictly off my diet. Because I try to be a dream wife.


        • I wish my husband was trying to be a dream husband.


          • I’m pretty sure there aren’t any. Nightmare husbands, yup, plenty of those. Dream husbands? Nah. I just went for the smart one that makes me laugh.


          • I chose the one who could fix my car.


          • Good call. Everything around here is falling apart and I get nervous when John picks up a hammer. He once destroyed a door that needed a little jimmy in the hinge when he for some inexplicable reason, hit it with an axe. When this huge crack appeared, mid-Connecticut-winter, natch. he was shocked. My husband has an advanced degree from Harvard.

            Should have gone with the guy who could fix my car. You are smarter than I am Nancy.


  16. So funny. And tragic. Hey Nancy, would you be willing to write a post for my Guerrilla Aging blog ( You can contact me at Thanks so much!


  17. I’m laughing out loud again, and believe me, I need to right now. Even though my evil scale is telling me I lost 4 lbs. in starvation mode from the flu, I still don’t trust it. It rarely cooperates – even when I remove rings, watches, and any other little thing that could tip it in the lower direction. Funny funny post! 🙂


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