Now, they’ve gone just a little bit too far!

By “they,” I mean whoever out there is trying to make sure we all look reed thin like Audrey Hepburn (females) or as buff as Ryan Reynolds (males). I mean, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for any of us, I guess, to move in that direction, but it most likely would take the entire staff and student body of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and their wands to do it. But they’re still trying. Oh, yes, they are.

Case in point: For my birthday, I requested dinner out at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. The place was not crowded and pleasantly cool after a rather warmish day. I snuggled into a booth with my significant husband and daughter, smiled at our handsome waiter, ordered a glass of pinot grigio, flipped open the menu, and felt the cold clutch of fear grip my stomach, which I knew all the pinot in the world wasn’t going to dispel.

My menu selection system, carefully honed after several decades, is this: look first at the dishes I like (which tend to be some combination of pasta and shellfish) and then at the prices, eventually coming to some sort of balancing act between the two. This time, however, there was a third bit of information thrown into the mix – the calorie count.

There are, to my mind, a few good reasons for going out to dinner. It definitely is a great way of kicking back and easing the stress of the day. You don’t have to think of what to have, how to cook it, whether they’ll like it, or who’s going to clean up after it. You can talk without interruption (except by the annoying habit of wait staff of coming back every five minutes to see if there’s anything you want. Hey, just give us a little bell, okay?). Somebody actually brings food and drink to your table and if you drop a knife or fork, you don’t have to invoke the three second rule or get up and wash it off. Just ask for a new one. The last thing I want to worry about is the bathroom scale laughing its head off the next morning.

But you can’t help it, you know. It’s right there in front of you and try as you might, you just can’t block it out. Especially when the number associated with your entree is somewhere in the vicinity of the national debt, even without the bread, butter, wine, and dessert, none of which, by the way, had a calorie count attached. I also had salad, which added another third of my recommended daily calorie consumption. Another odd thing is that the calories almost matched the price tags, minus the decimal point, but including the zeroes that came after them.

Did I enjoy my meal? Not so much. Will I go back there? Note to area restaurants: Probably not. Unless this was just a trial run and they go back to letting us eat with our delusions intact. Or until I finally get my figure looking something like Audrey Hepburn’s, which I’ve been working on ever since I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 19—oh, whenever. In other words, not any time soon.