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Those Five Words

By January Gordon Ornellas

My husband, Steve, used to utter his famous catchphrase, “Have you thought of dinner?” about 30 times a day. The first few times he’d ask, I’d nod, with a faraway look in my eyes, as if gourmet meals were dancing in my head.

By the 20th time, I wasn’t nodding anymore, and the look was less faraway, and more murdery.

For 30 years, this was our routine.

Then a few months ago, I broke my ankle, and everything changed. Now that I was no longer mobile, Steve was quickly promoted to Top Chef. 

Congrats, Buddy.

“Have you thought of dinner?” I’d call from the couch.

“We’re having chicken thighs, brown rice and a Greek salad,” Steve answered.

Apparently, he had.

For three straight months, Steve prepared and served delicious meals.

Not going to lie, I contemplated smashing my other ankle.

But now that I’m out of my boot, and finally mobile, I was reinstated as Top Chef. (I did not vote for myself.)

A few weeks ago, Steve sauntered into the kitchen around 4, which is prime time “thinking about dinner time.”

I braced myself for the inevitable five words.

They never came.

Instead, he shook his head at the container of Feta and said, “I’m on Whole 30.”

For those of you not familiar with Whole 30, it’s a nutritional plan with strict guidelines.

In literary terms, what you CAN eat is equivalent to a sad haiku:

Fruit, veggies, seafood,
Unprocessed meats, seeds, and nuts,
Black coffee, yum, yum.

The list of what you CAN’T eat is comparable to The Odyssey.

To make matters worse, my daughter Quincey and her husband, Colby, were doing Whole 30 with Steve. When the three of them got together, all they did was talk about how great they felt. Then, they’d eat gross food and pretend it was good.

“Delicious,” Quincey said, munching on roasted kale.

Steve took a bite and nodded. “It tastes like French fries.”

Kale (roasted or otherwise) does NOT taste like French fries!

You know what does taste like French fries?


As if leafy greens and positive attitudes weren’t bad enough…

Steve was losing weight and telling me about it.

“Honey, I’ve lost 7 pounds,” he called, as he stepped off the scale, smiling.*

“And it’s only been a week.”

For the record, the last time, I lost even close to 7 pounds was because a baby was removed from my body.

But, really, I’m happy for him.

“It’s because I’m doing Whole 30,” he explained.

Steve thinks the more one talks about Whole 30, the more weight one loses.

He may be on to something.

Two weeks in, Steve was down 10 pounds and feeling great. Not surprising since Whole 30 promised increased energy, better sleep, improved digestion, blah, blah, blah.

“You know,” he said, “this is the first time in my life, I’ve ever dieted. It’s kind of fun.”

I wanted to bludgeon him with the bathroom scale, but since I wasn’t on Whole 30, I didn’t have the energy.

Last week, while out on a walk, we ran into some neighbors.

“How are you guys doing?” they asked.

“Great,” Steve smiled. “I’m on Whole 30.”

I gave the neighbor a sorry my husband hates added sugars look.

But the neighbor replied, “I love Whole 30.”

Then they talked about sweet potatoes.

Spoiler alert: They can be used as a Whole 30 dessert!

But here’s the good news…

It’s been almost 30 days.

Steve talked about extending his Whole 30 another month, but I reminded him it’s not Whole 60. Enough is enough, Buddy.

It’s time to enjoy a Costco hotdog and ask me if I’ve thought of dinner.

*Yes, this is an oxymoron

 — January Gordon Ornellas

January Gordon Ornellas is a comedy writer whose stories include everything from colonoscopies to triathlons (equally torturous). Her article, “Rookie’s Triathlon Lessons,” appeared in the LA Times (June 2019). Two of her other stories, “Gobble, Gobble” and “Almost Taken,” were recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Laughter is the Best Medicine (April 2020). She is currently working on a book, Confessions of a Crazy Softball Mom. January also enjoys writing for her blog (, traveling and spending time with her husband and two adult daughters.

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