SOME MONTHS ago, a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store opened near me and I discovered a way of life that has all but vanished from this country.
At Krispy Kreme, nobody obsesses about calories or fat content or fitting into a size 8 cocktail dress.
Nobody sits around swapping nutrition tips or discussing how their workout went at the gym that morning.
At Krispy Kreme, if you brought up the subject of your latest cholesterol reading, someone at the next table would probably put down his chocolate iced doughnut and whack you over the head with a rolled-up newspaper and tell you to shut up.
That's one reason why I love doughnut people.
Here's another reason: Doughnut people think anytime is a great time to eat doughnuts.
If a doughnut person were to walk into Krispy Kreme at 7 at night and announce: "For supper, think I'm gonna have me three of them powdered blueberry-filled," no one would bat an eyelash.
Instead, someone would probably say: "Don't think that's gonna hold you, Floyd. Better have four of 'em."
And Floyd would do just that.
Floyd would hold up four beefy fingers to the woman behind the cash register and say: "He's right, hon. Throw a cinnamon apple-filled in there, too."
And then he would waddle off to a table and happily chow down, without a lot of tedious hand-wringing about what all this was doing to his waistline or his ticker.
That's why doughnut stores are infinitely more relaxing places to visit than bagel stores, where the Health Gestapo seems ever-present.
I have actually been in bagel stores where customers got into heated arguments over whether the sun-dried tomato or the pumpkin bagel was better for you.
I have been in bagel shops where husbands and wives almost came to blows over which low-fat vegetable spread to buy.
At Krispy Kreme, the guiding philosophy is simple: Calories, schmalories. Let's pound some doughnuts.
One of the neat things about Krispy Kreme stores is the glass partition that allows you to see the doughnuts being made right before your eyes.
As a rule, I don't like to see my food being made. This dates back some years to a sweaty cook in a Japanese steakhouse who prepared my dinner right at our table -- and grossed me out in the process.
It was like having George Wendt run a half-marathon and then stand dripping over your teriyaki.
But at Krispy Kreme, everything looks fresh and clean and the doughnuts go rumbling by you on a little conveyor belt, where they're dipped in hot oil and glazed and the wonderful smell of freshly made doughnuts fills the air.
This, of course, is one of the greatest smells in the whole world, rivaled only by, oh, the interior of a brand new car.
From my observations over the past few months, I'll tell you who Krispy Kreme's biggest fans are: old guys.
That's because old guys don't sleep very well.
Every morning at 5, their eyes snap open and they sit bolt upright in bed with one thought running through their head: What am I gonna do all day?
This thought can really make them panicky, because being retired and all, they don't have much to do except hang around the house and annoy their wives.
But with Krispy Kreme opening every morning at 5: 30, old guys can roll right out of bed and have a place to hang out.
Even if it's still dark outside, they can get a cup of joe and a glazed creme-filled and shoot the breeze with their buddies about their prostate or their golf game or how the wife is driving them nuts.
In a lot of ways, a Krispy Kreme store is like an old guy clubhouse, minus the secret handshake.
That why I think you're going to see more and more old guys leaving the Elks and the Shriners and the Rotary and hanging out at Krispy Kreme stores.
The neat thing about the Krispy Kreme near me is that the drive-through window is open 24 hours a day.
Think about that for a moment. Even at 3 in the morning while watching "Mannix" re-runs, you could pound a half-dozen glazed crullers if the mood strikes you.
Whereas, if you rolled up to a bagel store at 3 in the morning, some cranky guy in a white apron would stick his head out the window and yell: "Dammit, the whole wheats aren't up yet!"
Bagel people really have a short fuse when it comes to things like that.