My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Murder of Grabwell Grommet

People are so worried
about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year,
but they really should be worried
about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.
~Author Unknown

Mary McDougall shared this essay at the end of the McDougall Clinic's 10-Day Live-In Program, to great acclaim. Given the common holiday (and, with alarming frequency, the everyday) unhealthy bingeing with its ruinous repercussions and standard regrets, and the typical resolutions to make healthy lifestyle changes which accompany the dawn of a New Year, this seems an especially appropriate time to pass along...

The Murder of Grabwell Grommet

On the morning of his 42nd birthday, Grabwell Grommet awoke to a peal of particularly ominous thunder. Glancing out the window with his bleary eyes, he saw written in fiery letters:


With shaking hands, Grommet lit his first cigarette of the day. He didn't question the message. You don't question messages like that. His only question was, "Who?"

At breakfast as he salted his fried eggs and buttered his toast, he told his wife, Gratia, "Someone is trying to kill me."

"Who?" she asked with horror.

Grommet slowly stirred the cream and sugar into his coffee and shook his head, "I don't know," he said.

Convinced though he was, Grommet wasn't going to the police with his story. He decided his only course was to go about his daily routine and hope somehow to outwit his would-be murderer. He tried to think on the drive to the office. But the frustration of making time by beating lights and switching lanes occupied him wholly. Nor, once behind his desk, could he think a moment what with jangling phones, urgent memos and the problems and decisions piling in as they did each day.

It wasn't until his second martini at lunch that the full terror of his position struck him. It was all he could do to finish his Lasagna Milanese. "I can't panic," he said to himself, lighting his cigar. "I simply must live my life as usual."

So he worked until seven as usual. Drove home fast as usual. Studied business reports as usual. And he took his usual two Seconal capsules in order to get his usual six hours sleep. As days passed, the man fully stuck to his routine. And as the months went by, he began to take a perverse pleasure in his ability to survive. "Whoever's trying to get me," he'd say proudly to his wife, "hasn't got me yet. I'm too smart for him."

"Oh, please be careful," she'd reply, ladling him a second helping of beef stroganoff. The pride grew as he managed to go on living for years. But as it must to all men, death came at last to Grabwell. It came at his desk on a particularly busy day. He was 53.

His grief-stricken widow demanded a full autopsy. But it showed only emphysema, arteriosclerosis, duodenal ulcers, cirrhosis of the liver, cardiac necrosis, cerebrovascular aneurysm, pulmonary edema, obesity, circulatory insufficiency and a touch of lung cancer.

"How glad Grabwell would have been to know," said the widow smiling proudly through her tears, "that he died of natural causes."

~Art Hoppe

Art Hoppe, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, died of complications from lung cancer in Feb 2000.

If we do not change our direction,
we are likely to end up where we are headed.
~Chinese Proverb

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How good it is to be well-fed, healthy, and kind
all at the same time.
~Henry J. Heimlich, MD

Wishing all of you, and all beings everywhere
a safe, happy, healthy, peaceful New Year!


  1. Very good story! I'm going to copy that & send it to people via email. :)

  2. Great post, I enjoyed it very much.

    Did you do the McDougall 10 day live-in program? That is something that has intrigued me for a while now.


  3. Happy New Year! :-)

    I'm glad you both enjoyed it! (I've emailed it a lot too, Molly!)

    Alicia - yes, I attended the 10-Day Live-In Program (or "Camp McDougall," as we fondly called it) in Oct 2007. It was a fantastic experience (and wonderful vacation!) and I highly recommend it! We'd been vegan for 7 years at the time, but I still learned a great deal plus met some fun people and had a blast. It was money very well spent and we've enjoyed many benefits, even from the relatively small changes (like eliminating added fats and caffeine) we needed to make. Some of my classmates with significant health issues (requiring major lifestyle changes) experienced amazing results after just a week. (Okay, now I'm starting to sound like an infomercial so I'll stop there, but if you have any questions about it, feel free to email me!) :-)

    Someday we hope to go on one of the McDougall Costa Rica Adventures!

  4. We know one couple that also went to Camp McDougall and similarly enjoyed the experience, and they were omni before they went. Now they are healthy vegan and avoided cardiac surgery. Really amazing I think since the hubby had 90% blockage before they went. The local doctors thought he was crazy, but it worked out incredibly well for him.

    When I have a little more time (hopefully this weekend) I am going to take you up on your offer. I do have a few questions.

    Happy New Year to you too!

    talk to you again soon,

  5. Alicia, the experience of your friend is so familiar! One of my Camp McD classmates had advanced heart disease and terrible angina, and was scheduled for open heart surgery the day our session started, but decided to come to the McD Clinic instead. Her cardiologist was furious, told her she'd die if she didn't have the surgery right then, her family thought she was out of her mind, but she flew to Santa Rosa anyway. At the beginning, she couldn't walk 10 yards without chest pain and breathlessness, but by the time we took a field trip to see the Redwoods, she was hiking through the woods with the rest of us, only having to stop and rest a couple times. And by the end of the 10 days she was going on our entire long daily walks, keeping up just fine and experiencing no chest pain. We were impressed with her courage AND her results! (Another classmate with advanced diabetes had an equally amazing experience).

    I'll try to answer your first email before you send me your second one! LOL I'm bad. But ask away when you get a chance!

    Right now I hear BW rattin' around in the kitchen, so I need to go help (or supervise, as the case may be!) with lunch! ;-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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