I thought I was stepping into the 21st Century when I bought a new bathroom scale last fall. It was one of those supersleek glass and brushed chrome things, beautiful in its own high-tech, contemporary way. Digital, of course. Tap it gently on one corner and it comes quietly to life, ready to display whatever combination of little horizontal and vertical black bars is required. It is cold, dispassionate, and very, very accurate — exactly what a conscientious weight watcher needs. Right?
Wrong. That clinical, emotionless approach doesn’t work for me nearly as well as the old analog stuff. My old scale, the one I replaced because it was at least 20 years old, was exactly what I needed. There were little movable colored markers around the dial, one for each member of the family or, in my case, for some of my former, more admirable weights. The one farthest around the dial marked my most recent weigh-in, so I could see clearly if I’d gained, lost, or held steady. All those markers, 5 or 6 in all, graphically detailing exactly how sad my situation was. (Some of my former weights were really waaay back around the dial.)
But as I think about it now, I realize the most important thing about that scale, the thing modern technology delighted in discarding, was the dancing red needle — that quivering, accusatory red pointer that couldn’t wait to swing wildly around the dial and finally come to rest on some number I really didn’t want to deal with. “See?” it seemed to shout, as it jabbed at the number. See how bad you’ve been!
Yep, for all its relative inaccuracy, the old scale put some punch into its display. It didn’t just lie there all emotionless and disinterested. It made me pay attention. I’m thinking I need to dig it out of the back of the closet and reinstate it. The new scale has let my weight get totally out of control this winter.