By Jacqueline Seewald
Several days ago, I said something I shouldn’t have. I transgressed. I may have even violated a moral law. We were at the funeral of an old friend when I blurted out to his widow, “My God, you killed him!”
Unfortunately, my remark was overheard by a number of the friends and family of the deceased who gasped nearly in unison. Even my husband, Sam, never known by the sobriquet, Mr. Sensitivity, looked shocked. Sam placed his hand over my mouth.
In my own defense, I believed what I said was totally true. However, I will concede that a funeral parlor is not precisely the perfect place for such an accusation.
My suspicions began a year earlier when Sam and I were having brunch with our friends, Cora and Neil, at their suburban home.
Cora and I had initially become friends when we taught at the same elementary school. We’d chat together over lunch each day. We both had children, a common source of interest.
We began getting together socially outside of school. Our sons liked playing sports together. Our husbands also hit it off as well. Neil ran a successful inherited family business, while Sam was a forensic accountant. So they also had much in common. Our children enjoyed playing together and remained friends, even when they grew older. So it was natural for the adults to remain friends as well. We often had weekend brunch together.
"Another sausage?" Cora asked, after serving up heaping helpings of scrambled eggs swimming in butter, with bacon, ham, and sausage on the side.
I wrinkled my nose. “Isn’t this a little over the top?”
“Not at all.” Cora explained the meal was part of their new diet plan.
I studied my friend. As far as I could tell, Cora was still heavy. Neil was obscenely overweight.
"It doesn't seem healthy," I observed.
"Fat burns fat. We're also losing tons of weight because we've cut carbs," Cora explained. Her tone of voice was crisp and authoritative. “Notice I’m not serving toast. No hash browns, either. See, no carbs. Makes all the difference. It’s all explained in the book. It’s the bible of dieting. I’ll loan it to you if you like.”
“Is that the fatkins diet?” I asked, arching my brow.
Cora let out a deep sigh. “Not at all amusing. Sometimes you are so close-minded.”
Neil, stingy with everything except food, kept on shoveling bacon down. "This is the best diet ever! Even better than the ice cream diet."
“Sounds like an interesting way to lose weight,” Sam commented with enthusiasm.
“No thanks,” I said. “We’re not into fad diets.”
Sam looked at me hopefully, but then shrugged when I frowned at him and shook my head.
“Suit yourself,” Neil said with a shrug of his own. “But you folks are really missing out.”
“Another helping?” Cora offered.
Neil happily accepted.
“What about getting out and walking or exercising in a gym?” I said. “Sam and I are doing that. It’s supposed to help prevent all kinds of diseases.”
“We’ll think about it,” Cora said as she passed the tray of food back to her husband. I could tell I’d annoyed her with my skepticism. The friendship cooled. We didn’t hear from Cora again for months.
* * *
It was just a year later that we attended Neil's funeral service.
“What happened?” I asked.
"Massive coronary," Cora explained.
"Poor Neil. Poor you. So sorry. We'll visit you at home," Sam said, patting Cora’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort.
"Oh, I won't be there,” Cora replied. “I'm leaving for Europe right after the burial. I’ve rented a villa on the Mediterranean.”
“Why?” I asked, bewildered.
Cora smiled. “I hear the diet is much healthier there."
I blinked and really looked at Cora. She was now slim and stylish in her elegant black dress, her hair colored and coiffed to perfection. She was no longer frumpy. She’d never looked better. It dawned on me that Cora was about to enjoy spending her husband’s wealth, something he would never have allowed while he was alive. And that was when I developed foot in mouth disease and transgressed.