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A Tale of the Dueling Diet Doctors

Health: It's not pretty when meat, fruit, vegetable and nutritional-liquid experts lunch.


One day a literary agent went out to lunch with four of his clients, all of whom were diet doctors.

"Be sure not to order anything with meat in it," said one of the doctors, whose book, "Vegged Out: A Diet for the '90s," was No. 1 on the bestseller list. "Vegetarianism is the way to go."

"Nonsense," said another doctor, an advocate of red meat whose book "Making Ends Meat: A Diet for the '90s," also was on the bestseller list. "Meat is the best thing you can eat."

"Sure, if you want to have a heart attack," said a third doctor, whose book "Be Fruitful and Satisfy: A Diet for the '90s," had been on the bestseller list for six weeks. "Order some nice fresh fruit. It'll clean out your system."

The fourth doctor, who advocated nutritional liquids, was the author of a book titled "Liquid Assets: A Diet for the '90s." He said, "If you want to make it to 50, order something to drink. The stuff they put in food these days is enough to kill you."

The literary agent sat in silence.

When the waiter came around, the vegetable doctor ordered a leafy green salad; the meat doctor asked for a steak, medium rare; the doctor who prescribed fresh fruit ordered a fruit cup; and the doctor who recommended liquids decided to splurge, so he ordered a glass of wine.

The literary agent didn't order anything, but asked the waiter to return in half an hour with a cup of coffee.

"Not eating today?" the meat doctor asked.

"I'm not hungry right now," the literary agent replied.

"No wonder," said the vegetable doctor. "If I sat next to a guy who ordered meat, I'd lose my appetite too."

"If you had read my book," the meat doctor sneered, "you'd know that meat is the key ingredient in a healthy diet."

"I read your book," the vegetable doctor snapped, "and I thought it was a lot of baloney."

The fruit doctor chuckled at this exchange. "Let's not get testy, gentlemen," he said. "After all, your diets are hardly worth fighting over. Mine is the only one that is a certified success."

"Says who?" asked the doctor who prescribed a liquid diet. "The New England Journal of Medicine?"

"An even greater authority," said the fruit doctor. "Publishers Weekly."

By now all four men were shouting, which didn't surprise the literary agent, who continued to sit in silence.

The vegetable doctor said that since his book was No. 1 on the bestseller list, he should be considered the diet expert.

"Balderdash!" said the fruit doctor. "My book has been on the bestseller list the longest, which makes me the expert. The rest of you guys are a bunch of quacks."

"Smile when you say that," the vegetable doctor growled as he picked up his butter knife.

The other three doctors grabbed their butter knives. "Prepare to defend thy diets!" said the meat doctor. "En garde!"

Bedlam broke out as all four doctors thrust and parried their way around the table. The maitre d', who until now had looked on in dismay, finally decided to take action. "I am afraid I will have to ask you four gentlemen to leave."

"A pleasure," the meat doctor huffed as he walked out.

"You idiots haven't heard the last of this," the vegetable doctor vowed.

When the doctors had at last departed, the literary agent settled back in his chair and surveyed the table. There, right in front of him, was a complete and balanced meal: a thick, juicy steak, a leafy green salad, a fruit cup and a glass of wine. He grabbed his fork and dug in.

A short time later, the waiter returned. "Would you like your coffee now, sir?"

The literary agent nodded. "Send the bill to the doctors," he said with a smile. "And give my compliments to the chef."

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