Yesterday I put on a pair of trousers and I noticed that they were a little tighter around the waist than they used to be, so I drew the only logical conclusion: my housekeeper has been washing my clothes using the wrong water temperature setting.
I'll have to speak sharply to her about that. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's washing clothes using the improper temperature which results in trousers that pinch and strain at the waist.
It's either that or all of the bread I've been eating. The Christmas holidays have come and gone, the New Year's Eve feast has been eaten and cleared up, and the only evidence of either is, frankly, the sharp little anguished squeal that escapes me involuntarily when I get to the top button of my trousers.
So, yes: it's probably not the housekeeper's washing machine techniques. It's the eating - the bread especially. Bread - any complex carbohydrate, frankly - is my downfall. I'm powerless before a baguette. I'm putty in the hands of a bowl of pasta. The deepest and most profound love affair I've ever experienced was between me and a pain au raisin.
Over the past few months - from, roughly, the beginning of the holiday season to this morning, when my jeans staged a minor uprising - there has been an increase in the consumption of breads and carbohydrates (and no, I couldn't phrase that any more passively) and so when I felt that uncomfortable waistline pinch, what could I say but, "Uh oh".
I wasn't surprised, of course. I knew when I started to slide the trousers on that a difficult personal moment was on the way. It's sort of like when you use a credit card you're pretty sure is maxed out - you hand it over and have the waiter or the shopkeeper slide it through the thingy, and then you wait apprehensively for the machine to beep and start printing the receipt. But when it doesn't, you don't think, "Well, that's a surprise." You think, "Oh yeah. The bank noticed that I haven't paid it in a while."
But I squeezed into the trousers anyway, hoping that a combination of stretching and body heat would do the trick, and an hour or so later I met up with a colleague who said, "You look good. Have you lost weight?"
Now, there are two ways to interpret that. The first way - and, I confess, the way I chose to think about it initially - is, simply, that this person is trying to destroy me. They prefer me bloated and tired and pre-diabetic and they're trying to trick me into thinking that I'm actually svelte so I keep ballooning up, and, I suppose, make a very competitive business slightly less so when I suffer a massive coronary occlusion.
But what I think was really happening was this: he just noticed a change in my body shape - a slight change, to be fair — and couldn't quite decide which direction I was moving in. Was I fat and getting thinner or thin and getting fatter? He knew something was different, but he couldn't quite remember exactly how I looked a few months ago, and arbitrarily decided to come down on the losing weight side rather than the gaining weight side. He chose to think I was getting better, though I know I am getting worse.
This kind of thing happens a lot in business, especially my business. A script or a presentation or a strategy memo goes through so many changes and revisions that it's impossible, at a certain point, to know if it's getting better or getting worse.
I'm in the middle of writing the second draft of a script for a large television network. Early last month, after delivering the first draft, I had a long series of conversations with the executives there who peppered me with thoughts and notes and comments for the next draft. So in between gorging on sugared breadstuffs, I've been making script changes.
Most scriptwriting software automatically places an asterisk next to each change, and I have yet to meet an executive who won't just barrel through the second draft, skimming along the pages for the asterisked changes. They don't bother to read the whole thing again. They just check to see what's different. Which means they have no idea if it's a bad script getting better or a good script getting worse. It's a change, so it's probably good.
You look different, so you've probably lost weight.
Only I know that I'm a fat guy with a bad second draft. And, to be totally honest, I'm keeping that to myself.
Rob Long is a writer and producer based in Hollywood
On Twitter: @rcbl