• Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Hey, Matt:

Are you skinny or fat? And if you’re fat, are you on a diet? Everybody I know is on a diet. And some of them aren’t even fat. Who was the first person to go on a diet?

— Just Right, via email

Until recently the history of mankind has been a story of famine, so your average Middle Ages dude wasn’t having trouble zipping up his jeans. But if we look at rich people back then, maybe we can find one or two who qualify. The most famous trailblazing dieter — that is, a person who modified his/her food intake specifically to lose weight — was William I of England (William the Conqueror). The story goes that by 1087 he had eaten himself into a condition where he was too fat to get on his horse. And since his whole kingly image was based on the idea of a mounted William leading his men into battle, it was pretty humiliating when he couldn’t get a leg over Dobbin. Popular history says William’s solution to the problem was to lock himself in his room, eat nothing, and drink only alcohol. (Alcohol in the form of ale or mead was pretty much the common drink of the day. And hardly a good plan for losing weight.) No record of how long he endured this regimen, but subsequent history indicates that he must have had some success. That same year, William died when he fell off his horse.

Around this time, about the only thing known about weight loss is that if you throw a guy in a stone tower and feed him bread and water, he eventually becomes a skeleton. Doctors considered obesity among the common man incurable and somehow a reflection of low moral character. “Fat” and “bad” would continue to be linked to this very day.

The next diet milestone is attributed to Englishman William Banting and his doctor, Mr. Harvey, in the 1850s. William wanted to lose a little girth, perhaps to upgrade his moral standing in the community. But it was another disease (unnamed) that put him on the path to slimness. Whatever William was suffering from, his doctor’s Rx was a diet free of sugar and starches. In no time, William was a shadow of his former self and the girls were flocking to his gate. The world needs to know about this, Banting exclaimed. So he wrote what is probably the first diet book, Letter on Corpulence Addressed to the Public, a treatise on the value of the low-carbohydrate diet and a worldwide hit.

By the late 1900s, people had much better access to more food, science had figured out calories and other basic weight-control facts, industrial America had begun to see fat people as an untapped market, and the era of diet pills, loony fad menus, snake-oil slimming elixirs, and diet books had dawned.

Matthew Alice:

What happens to the penis that a transsexual trades in for a vagina? And how the heck is a vagina created?

— Hmmmm, Encinitas

According to staff quack Dr. Doctor, they all go into the big international penis bank. That’s where people go to pick out their favorite to be sewed on during the opposite kind of sex-change operation. Really. It’s the truth. Have we ever lied to you? Yeah, we have. Plenty of times. Like now.

We’re all glad you didn’t go to med school, Hmmmm. You don’t just chop ’em off and throw ’em out. A male-to-female trans trade is more artful than that. Actually, there are several approaches to the problem. This is just the most common. The tissue and vessels are removed from inside the penis, the glans is removed, and the remaining penis skin and vasculature is turned inside out and put into a false vagina created in the male’s pelvis. The brand-new vagina is made from the old, despised penis. The glans can be made into a clitoris. In another procedure, after the testes are removed from their skin sack, the skin can be shaped into labia. So the whole process is the ultimate in recycling.

More Duck Stuff


There is even a 100 mph tape that we used in the Navy. I think it was green.

— jott


My cousin Pablo, a San Diego Fire Department mechanic and a racing fan, said that in the American racing business, duck/duct tape is known as “200 mile per hour tape” for its staying power while resisting speeds up to 200 mph on race cars. My dad used to wrap it around his wrists while working on his cars in the backyard. I don’t know why he did this, but to me he looked like a modern-day Mexican backyard mechanic Hercules.

— Sandra, San Ysidro

  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


EmilyGrrl July 2, 2008 @ 2:27 p.m.

While your description was accurate regarding GRS (genital reassignment surgery), the way you described the result as a 'false' vagina is extremely offensive. My vagina is as real to me (and my partner!) as the vagina anyone else would be born with, and fully functional sexually, too!


Just_Jennifer July 3, 2008 @ 9:54 a.m.

I have to agree, referring to it as a "false vagina" is highly offensive, as is referring to it as a "male's" pelvis. The vagina is quite real, and I no longer think of myself as remotely male.


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader