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Exit Ramp for the Fat Lane

March 24, 2011

Amid the midlife hubbub, I always knew people were wondering why I never “dieted”.  There were reasons.  My previous attempts losing weight had always meant that I was denying myself all sorts of “friends” (such as the 11:27 p.m. six-cookies-soaking-in-a-glass-of-skim-milk “friends”).  I effectively yadda-yadda’ed my blind spot with endless, ingenious critiques of the very idea of weight-loss regimens:

“Have you actually seen what four ounces of meat looks like?”

“It is simply not possible to eat only 17 French fries.”

“Accounting for 15 separate food items over 3 or 4 “meals” to tally up to 1200 calories is mathematically impossible.”

“Lean Cuisine meals are appetizers.”

“If the bread is free at a restaurant, it’s crazy not to eat it.  All of it.”

“One hot dog?  Are you nuts?”

“Chewing your food thoroughly is for people with some form of mental disorder.”

“Having a little bit of everything means you can’t have a lot of anything.”

“Ordering from the ‘Lighter Fare’ side of the menu is deeply embarrassing.”

“Counting “points”, “carbs”, “fat calories” is as much fun as filling out an income tax form.”

“Weekly weigh-ins, seminars, and support groups seem too much like AA meetings.”

“Patience is for people who have nothing better to do.”

“If I did lose weight, I’d just be making room for gaining even more when I stopped losing.”

“Most professional athletes have a Body Mass Index in the “Morbidly Obese” range.”

We all know many thin people who eat crap, smoke, and haven’t broken a sweat in thirty years, but they look great in nice clothes.  I’m sure that in their heart of hearts they may know they are strangely out of touch with their own bodies, but my guess is that they also say to themselves, “Well, at least I’m not fat,” while reaching for their 27th cigarette of the day.

In my years of denial and larding up, it was clear to me that people were making accommodations for me and my fatness – physical and conceptual.  Physically, the accommodations were easy to perceive.  I was always seated at an outside chair at dinner parties so I would not feel “pinched”.  At restaurants, they wouldn’t even think of putting me in the banquette side of a booth.  The eyes of clerks would widen a bit whenever I would purchase ice cream , cookies, or any other food so clearly inappropriate for such a fat person.  When I’d walk into a clothing store whose available sizes were at the upper edge of the ability of my body to accept, the eyes of clerks would widen and their “Can I help you with anything?” line had the edge of an “Are you sure you belong here, Fat Boy?” undertone.

Either I was blind to my visual status or I believed the alibi that the way I looked was tolerable and other people’s opinions didn’t mean as much to me as my desire to live the way I want to live.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Having shrunk by 1/3, I know that my sense of who I am has nothing to do with those who are observing my awkwardly swaddled mass.

But when I was fatter, the emotional/social accommodation was harder to take.  People felt awkward with the fact of my fatness. In some sense, I think, they felt bad that I apparently felt so bad about myself — and their pity, of course, made me feel worse.  When the temperature was above 75º and I would start to get damp, hosts or guests would start going out of their way to complain about how hot it was.  When physical activity would be suggested, there was always a furtive look in my direction to make sure there was no heart attack imminent.

Since I was not fat back when I’d been on the prowl for female favor, and since I own my own business, I never felt I suffered any discrimination due to larding up.  But I will say that when interviewed for jobs by certain stylish potential clients, their eyes often widened a little bit to the point that I knew that, in their view, being bloated was a mark against my potential usefulness as an architect.

No matter what anybody said, or how they acted, my decision to lose weight was as self-centered as the myopia that allowed me to gain all the bulk.  Me and my homeboys are not great at seeing forests – we are very easily distracted by all those neat trees.  In my walk through the woods, no amount of peer pressure or social guilt caused me to rethink my mass.  This follows a lifelong pattern where friends smoking, doing drugs, or voting for Jimmy Carter did not sway me.  Although captain of my high school football team, I may have been the only team member who never went to a beer blast.  I never gave credibility to others’ attitudes about how they thought I should act, dress or, ultimately, eat.  Maybe that’s why my company motto is “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke”.  Unfortunately, in terms of my body, the joke was on me.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    March 26, 2011 11:53 am

    I would really like you to design a house for me someday based on that whole “Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” theme . . . it would be awesome. Maybe you could add an Escher twist to the ramps and surreal windows?

    • duo permalink
      March 26, 2011 2:07 pm

      The f-ing is usually my attitude towards other artichokes – but an artichoke named Peter Eisenmann created a home with two stairs, one for use, the other indentical, but with beams and columns ripping across/through it…making use perverse and cruel…he dug it….

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