When Virtue Becomes Vice

Slice-Cherry-Pie-SA vice is nothing more than a virtue taken too far.

I like to remind my wife of that.

This time, we were in a restaurant when she reminded me that I was on a diet.

Dieting is virtuous, so is feeding the hungry. The former is her idea, the latter mine, but both of us struggle with turning virtues into vices.

I put on weight each winter. Minnesota weather requires it and the body responds accordingly. But this winter only required an additional ten pounds, I blew past that before Thanksgiving.

So my wife insists that I diet and of course I insist that I don’t. It is not that I am being stubborn or unhealthy rather I am merely resisting her extremism.

She always takes things too far and turns virtues into vices.

Empathy must stop at one stray cat, not a shed full.

The realm of cleanliness does not share a border with sterility.

Enthusiasm for shopping should not take flight into the irrational exuberance of dawn on Black Friday.

Her fairness should never work its way around mine.

But of all of these virtues, the one that she clearly kicks past the goal post of vice – is moderation.

You see, moderation is a strange duck. Being neither vice nor virtue, it is a hybrid that occupies a point somewhere in between.

But where?

Anything to the left of right or the right of left can be interpreted as moving in the direction of moderation. So all one must do to assume a moderate position is race to the furthest extreme of reasonableness and hop back one step.

And yes, we are talking about dieting here.

Her concept of dieting is for me to eat things that I do not like. Keep in mind that eating is a good thing; one could even say it is virtuous. So how then does spinach salad fit into the scheme of things?

I remind her of this.

I insist that since I have eliminated the vices of Doritos and Cheez-Its, and cranked back on my lust for pork chops, that I am well on my way toward moderation.

“It is good that you are eating healthy,” she tells me, “but what about fruits and vegetable?”

“Fruits?” I ask.

“Fruits,” she confirms, as the waitress appears beside our table.

“And what pie can I get for you today?” she asks.

My wife responds with a scowl.

“Cherry,” I say.

It is after all a fruit.

“And a scoop of ice cream to go with that?”

“Two,” I tell her.

“One,” my wife counters.

Now that is my kind of moderation.


Author’s note: My muse was late… again.  As is obvious, she had no part in the creation of this post, but she did leave a few notes.  One reads, YOU DIDN’T EXPLAIN THE MECHANISM BY WHICH A VIRTUE BECOMES A VICE.

I didn’t, so I will do that now.

A virtue becomes a vice after someone says, “this is so good, we need more of it.”

Author: Almost Iowa


56 thoughts on “When Virtue Becomes Vice”

  1. I used to love Mrs. Smith’s “No Sugar Added” cherry pies, because there were delicious and obviously a healthy choice for dessert (or breakfast). So I agree with your order, and think that you justified the scoop of ice cream perfectly. But what I love the most is the last line of this post, because it is so true!

  2. I like your form of moderation and health eating. I’d go for the blueberry because blueberries are the best fruit you can eat. I always eat anything you I want, “in moderation.” It’s funny because I always lose weight in the winter and struggle with it in the summer because I I view the summer as one big vacation party. Ice cream all around…with pie pie, of course.

    1. I’d go for blueberry – but we have been eating a lot of blueberry pancakes lately. I will divulge a little secret about them. add a cup of oatmeal to the batter. It thickens the pancakes and gives them a heartier taste. It’s the best.

  3. I am a virtuous woman and I like cherry pie. In my world it’ll remain a fruit because to label it a vice would be wrong. I know this because I am a virtuous woman who knows a thing or two. Capiche?

    1. I liked your approach so much that I tried it out on my wife.

      “I am a virtuous man,” I told her.

      “No, you’re not.”

      “If I am not this new approach won’t work.”

      “What new approach?”

      Sigh… “Never mind.”

  4. Thoughts:
    A quote from Robert Heinlein, “Moderation is for monks.”
    An assertion I once saw on a T-Shirt, “Beer is made with hops. Hops are plants. Therefore, beer is a salad.”
    Amazing where a little rationalization can take you…

  5. Greg, all the virtue & vice food banter between you & your wife makes perfect sense. My word for moderation is “portion control.” 8 servings in a 10 inch pie, 4 ounces in a scoop of ice cream! But, seriousness aside, you got the right answer to moderation in the end, “One.” Give that man another scoop! 🤣 Christine

  6. Hahahaha I totally agree! Cherry is a fruit! And they say that chocolate comes from the cocoa bean which grows on a plant, so it counts as salad.

  7. I was moderately careful till the cold weather hit us. Now I’m cold and hungry… but not so hungry that I’ll brave the cold to go shopping, so when the treats run out I shall be moderate again.

    1. We have been snowed in for days. The drifts are three feet high on our road and fifteen minutes after the township road-grader comes through, the drifts are back. So we shop in our pantry.

  8. You would have loved my grandmother. I did. She was convinced that apple pie with two big, fat slices of cheddar was perfectly acceptable as breakfast food, and you could substitute any other kind of fruit pie for toast or biscuits. There always was a pie on the table at breakfast: raisin, peach, apple, cherry, plum. And every one was hot out of the oven. It’s interesting that we never had more than one big slice, partly because we knew there would be more tomorrow.

    1. Pie for breakfast? Oooooooooo….

      Back in my hitch-hiking days, I loved to work the hay harvest in Iowa and Nebraska because I’d lasagna for mid-morning meal. Nothing like hard-work under the sun and great food. I miss it.

    1. Come spring, I will back off the second helpings and cut out the snacks, then Scooter and I will double-time it around our daily seven mile walk and the pounds will melt away.

  9. I’m certain that cherry pie is loaded with vitamin C, and ice cream is um, well…
    My husband’s take on nutrition is that anything organic is good for you – including pie, cookies, ice cream, and a wide assortment of pastries. 🙂

  10. Oh, how I can relate with your dear wife, whom you seem too outwit way too often. I play the role of chip police in this house. “No,” I say, as my husband reaches for a bag of chips at the grocery store. Or a look from me suffices, too. We’ve replaced chips with almonds, the salted ones, of course.

    Our ice cream scoops have decreased in size or been limited to one rather than two. Moderation really does work, although it’s more of a challenge in winter, as you note. My body craves carbs…

        1. HyVee is very much alive. In fact it is blowing its competition away by moving into major metropolitan areas like the Twin Cities and Madison. Pretty good for an employee owned business.

  11. Almost Iowa, this post on moderation was not moderately enjoyable and interesting. It was VERY enjoyable and interesting. So, not enough moderation once again… 🙂

  12. “I insist that since I have eliminated the vices of Doritos and Cheez-Its, and cranked back on my lust for pork chops, that I am well on my way toward moderation.”

    Sounds to me like you might have moved far enough left of right to be in danger of passing the midpoint of moderation. Some ground hogs predict six more weeks of winter – you wouldn’t want to get so thin that you have to go shopping for a new winter coat when the bathing suits hit the racks. This is all part of a complex economic system. Be careful.

    1. The point of moderation is to be found squarely between Cheez-its and Doritos with denial of one or the other as a step toward extremism. It is the rational that I use to justify cherry pie.

  13. Winter weight, the bane of Northern dwellers. At least you’re getting a jump start on it. I don’t usually pay attention until it’s time to wear shorts…. when I look down and scream WTH?

    1. Hey, when you can’t fit into your flannel lined cold weather blue jeans, you got a big problem. So does that mean my cold weather gear has to be two sizes bigger?


      I just resolve to keep the weight off and that fixes it…..then I squeeeeeze in.

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