Friday, November 21, 2008

Falls the Shadow

A dozen times, I've lost and regained fifty pounds or so. Twice, I've lost and regained more than a hundred pounds. The challenge seems to be the once-and-for-all part. My friend Claire said that regaining weight is one of her hobbies, like photography or adultery. "There will always be another binge," she said. "It's never the last one. Maybe not today, maybe not, probably tomorrow...tomorrow's looking good...."

Considering my past performance, I won't give weight-loss advice. Rather, I'll share a list of my favorite things about being fat.

  • Every day is a party. All the best refreshments are served, in the most generous quantities. Here in my suburban America, there is no shortage of food. Armed with my debit card, my Happenings coupon book, and my cotton jeans with two-percent Spandex, I sit happily eating chips and salsa, sipping Dr. Pepper, while someone does the hunting and gathering for me. I smile warmly; I tip generously. If I can't find a companion for lunch, I opt for fast food at a drive-up window, and enjoy a private party in my Honda. I find a shady spot to park, recline the seat a bit, and listen to Neil Young's "Decade" CD. With enough carbs and saturated fats, it's bliss.
  • Other women love me, because I make them look good. Of course, Claire loves me because I'm warm and witty and openhearted, and because I remember her birthday, and because I sat quietly and smiled patiently during a twenty-minute rant regarding "...what my effing mother-in-law said about that aubergine cocktail dress I ordered from Victoria's Secret." But Claire also loves me because the dress is a size 14, and it's a little tight on her, but she looks gorgeous compared to me. Lately, my bottom half looks like a blue-denim sack in which an Idaho farmer is storing his bumper crop of potatoes. Claire knows that, and she still loves me, but she stands a little taller knowing that when we go to Mi Ranchito, the cute Hispanic waiter will grin slowly at her, and not at me.
  • Children love me (especially sedentary children). What's not to love? I always have treats, my body is like a huge warm pillow, and I'm not easily distracted (because being distracted requires a modicum of energy that I do not possess). I stretch out next to the treats, smile at the much-loved child, and let him or her know that I care about safety and good manners, but not much else. I'm a good listener, and I'm a fairly good teacher. Unconditional positive regard fills the room (or the Honda). In that moment, my BMI doesn't matter all that much.
  • My wardrobe is simplicity itself. You know that feeling when you're going out-of-town for a romantic weekend, and you spend several hours trying on every item of clothing you own in an attempt to find the cutest, most flattering, most come-hither items? When you're finished, you're knee-deep in rejects but you have half a dozen outfits that are perfect, and you fold them lovingly and place them gently into a tapestry carry-on, along with some jewelry and a couple of silk nighties? Sure...that's one way to do it. It's time-consuming, though, and requires a lot of pesky decision-making. I'm currently limiting my wardrobe to a pair of jeans and two shirts, which is humble even by my standards. But it's not a problem, because...
  • I don't go anywhere or do anything. It's easier that way, really. Home is usually a happy place, what with cable TV, roomy sleep pants, a variety of cookie-making ingredients, and pets who love me as much as kids love me. And by staying home, I avoid the horrified glances of those who saw me a year or two ago when I weighed considerably less. When I was friendly and bold and flirtatious. When I didn't go to bed feeling all gassy, and wake up feeling all headachy. When my knees didn't ache all the time, and when I wasn't in the habit of eating warm German chocolate frosting out of a saucepan.
  • My marriage is rock solid (assuming--and this might be a stretch--that the only possible threat to my marriage is my unwillingness to embrace monogamy). At this weight, I embrace the hell out of monogamy. I don't seek out other men; I seldom even think about other men (take that, Other Men!). And, sure, it feels like prison, but a warm and cozy split-level prison. Anyway, all that wing-stretching can grow tiresome: He loved me, so he set me free, and I flew back, and I gained a hundred pounds, and he's probably wishing he'd moved out (without leaving a forwarding address) after he set me free that last time.
  • I feel nothing. Joy, equanimity, anticipation, grief, dread, outrage...all nearly forgotten remnants of a healthier past. The complete numbness is--really--quite a treat. The pills I take today have names like key-lime pie, churro, Italian sub, gyro, roasted cashews. My body is so well fueled by food that my motor is always running, and it feels like 737's are revving up in here, and stillness and grace and serenity have long since fled.
  • Obesity is a problem that will eventually fix itself. It's similar to owning a car or a house, and failing to address problems as they arise. One day, you find you're overwhelmed by all that has gone wrong: The car leaks transmission fluid and pulls to the right; the interior reeks of rotting fruit (even though you can't remember a single time you've eaten fruit in this car). The house is stupid with slow drains, poorly sealed windows, and the stench of cat box. Good news? You can sell the car, sell the house, and your problems magically become the problems of someone else. Obesity is kind of like that. All of the things you hate about your life (an unfinished correspondence course, a slightly prolapsed uterus, an emotional distance between you and your only brother, a tendency toward sloth) will go away the instant you stroke out after a brisk five-minute walk across a crowded parking lot.

1 comment:

Peggy said...

I have experienced everything you have talked about here, though I have never been thin when I was in a monogamous relationship, well, either that or the relationship was so short it was easy to be monogamous. Sometimes I feel like I have complete control and other times none at all. You and I have talked about the fact that losing weight can come so easily to both of us but other times it is like someone is speaking a different language and we don't have a translator....if we did please make him some hot latin man! I think it's something we girls will constantly have to work with or fight or whatever you want to call it. We were both doing so well when we were journaling to each other and opening up to each other, do you think it's time for that again? Or do you think that was a short time fix? You are right though, your husband loves you and has since the day you two met. He loves you at any size which in some ways is a curse and others is a blessing and I know this because I have the same thing now. And by the way, children love you for sooooo many other reasons then the ones you stated. They love you because you are relaxed and easy going, because you give them your undivided attention, because you treat them like little adults. Sometimes you sell yourself short big sister :)