Dr. Vickers is on vacation this month. Heres a classic Chairside from August 1994.

Every day around noon, a fairly consistent mix of meats, breads and pickles screams toward the pit of my stomach like a pack of starving dogs, barking out dangerously incorrect ratios of proteins, carbohydrates andyum!fats to the semi-reliable body system I call a digestive tract.

Thats roughly a 10/30/60 percent mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. From what I understand, youre not supposed to eat like that. I mean youre REALLY not supposed to eat like that.

Hey, I should know. Im a doctor! And as such, I have one of the worst diets known to man.

Im not coming out of nowhere with this. As you know, I am very research-oriented.

I became this way before optometry school, back in college. Who will ever, ever forget my groundbreaking senior thesis, Kegs and Car Trunksthe Numbers Game?

Now that Im a journalist, my studies continue, and Ive progressed to the topic of lunch. (Besides, I tackled breakfast in that senior thesis.) Nutritionists preach that apocryphal nonsense that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But we eye people know that it is lunch that keeps the world turning. Why? My research team informs us:

1. O.D.s are too nauseous in the morning and cannot face food before listening to their answering machines about postponed appointments and patients ticked off about their new glasses.

2. For a male O.D., lunch is the time he can read about Sex Secrets of the Stars of Green Acres without being teased by his wife that Arnold is less of a pig than he.

3. Lunch is an opportunity to drive the UPS man crazy since theres nobody around to break his fall when he slams at full stride into the freshly locked door on his rounds.

4. Lunch is a barometer of success for many O.D.s. If youre eating a pack of Nabs between patients, youre a busy doctor. If youre eating a nutritionally balanced lunch that you made yourself, then heading to the store next door for an hour or so to look at the magazine rack, youre probably not as busy.

5. Lunch is a great time to read and marvel at the wit of that Chairside guy over a bowl of soup. (Most commonly heard comment in our study: Vickers? Hes out to lunch.)

Some O.D.s actually dont eat lunch, not even that pack of Nabs. Personally, I dont know how they do it. If I did it, Id be starving by 1 p.m. and hallucinating by 3. Hey, maybe thats why they do it. For the buzz, I mean. Cool.

Heres my typical lunch itinerary:
11:00 a.m. Laugh for the third time at dirty joke of last morning patient. That about uses up the last of my non-fat stored energy.

11:15. Check wallet for cash flow.

11:16. Ask receptionist for loan.

11:20. Bid fond farewell to staff. They cry at my passing. Hear giggling on my way out the door.

11:25. Where to eat? Chili at Big Berthas topless car wash? No, my wife vetoes. (When did she get in the car?) But dear, the car is VERY dirty. No.

11:41. Fast-food drive-thru. Get in 20-car line. Im in a hurry, you see.

12:05. Order made and received. Appears to be in the meat sandwich group. Close enough.

12:09. Wolf it, baby! Wolf it real good!

12:12. Hello, Mrs. Smith. Do your eyes always water like that? No, just since you spoke to me, Dr. Vickers. Have lunch at Marios Famous House of Garlic and Onion again?

No, but maybe tomorrow ...

Vol. No: 141:08Issue: 8/15/04