Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in October 2010. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.
The worsterror of my career (if you don't count my second marriage) was in Natural Gas, and it was a doozy. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I screwed the pooch somehow and before I knew it the loss to the firm (for which I was personally liable) was well into the five figures. This wasn't me being wrong about the direction of the market, mind you, because that happened all the time. This was a bona fide, fat finger error - which almost never happened. I got called into the big man's office and he sent me home while he decided my fate.
He called me later that day and told me to meet him for dinner at Morton's, where we would discuss "my future with the firm". When I arrived at the restaurant I saw him, his second-in-command toady, and our research director out of Miami, a truly gigantic specimen who went almost 400 pounds. Whatever. I sat down and ordered a Mount Gay on the rocks, some bacon-wrapped scallops, a rare prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and a very nice Meritage to wash it all down. If I was about to get the ax, at least I'd have a full belly and a decent buzz.
The big man decided that the occassion called for Morton's signature 48-oz porterhouse. Now, I've been going to Morton's for 20 years and it's always been there on the menu, but to that point I'd never actually seen someone order it, much less consume it. That's
four three whole pounds, hoss. When the steaks arrived, our table descended into a bacchanalian orgy of charred animal flesh. Not a word was mentioned about what happened that day. After the meal, while my head was swimming in meat and Meritage, the big man lowered the boom.
First things first: I wasn't fired. Firing me would only make it difficult to collect what I owed. Nice. His solution could even be considered a promotion of sorts, because he put four junior traders under me to help square the books faster (note: he wasn't letting me trade my way out of the position, because that would incur further risk to the firm. He put the guys under my supervision because I'd get a percentage of their profits and my hit would sting a little less). So I was going to be working for free for a while. A long while. Almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh, and this one's on you." The waiter handed me the tab as the other guys chuckled, and I was out another $600 on top of everything else.
Anyone who has read Liar's Poker knows that Wall Street had its appetites back in the day. Almost everything - food, booze, drugs, women - was done to excess. It wasn't unusual to have a huge steak with all the trimmings at lunch in the middle of the day and come back to the office feeling like a hundred pounds of shit stuffed into a fifty-pound bag. There were a couple guys who spent their lunch hour working out, but they were the outliers back then.
As I've watched Wall Street transform itself from a locker room to a chess club over the past 15 or so years, I've been curious about how the diet has changed. It seems everyone is more health conscious these days, and that's a good thing. Believe me, as I sit here at 5'9" and 230 pounds, I wish I'd opted for a vegetable platter a few more times back in the day. I don't think I ever worked with any vegetarians, but surely there must be some on the Street these days.
The other day CaptK mentioned that he lost a bunch of weight on the Paleo Diet, and I've been hearing more and more about Paleo-style eating. Admittedly, I know less than nothing about it, though I'm guessing it involves avoiding processed foods and emphasizes foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were likely to encounter. Sounds like a lot of nuts, vegetables, fruits, and wild game. I'd love to hear if a lot of people are doing this and if it's working for them, because it sounds like the kind of diet a guy like me could get behind without too much effort.
I'd also like to hear from the vegan/vegetarian crowd. About a year ago, my wife brought home Skinny Bitch because it was all the rage at the time. She never ended up reading it because I got to it first. I have to tell you, it is a hilarious book and extremely well written. And it lays out the case against meat better than anything I've ever read. If you're the least bit squeamish about how your steak, chicken, or pork chops go from pasture to plate, this book will turn you vegan in no time.
At about the same time, we watched Food, Inc. for the first time. My wife hasn't touched a pork product since (and, by extension, neither have I). When you see how food is produced in America, it is really scary. But the movie has a hopeful message, too. You can eat really well if you choose to.
So that's what I'd really like to know. Is the culture of gluttony still prevalent on Wall Street? Or has the advent of SeamlessWeb and the hundreds of healthy choices it offers carried the day? The life of an analyst is pretty sedentary, and there's not always time to work out. What do you guys do to stay in shape? And how big a part of staying in shape is your diet? I basically went vegetarian early in the year and pulled off 20 pounds and felt great. But the minute I stopped, the weight came right back. I'm not ready to commit to a full vegetarian lifestyle - I love my steak too much.
Is anyone in the same boat? Is Paleo the answer, or is it just another fad?