I hate getting fat.
It’s hopelessly degrading, and frustrating, and humiliating, and life-threatening, and stupid. Yet, here I am.
At lunch yesterday, I was talking about my fascination with my stupid behavior with a smoker friend of mine, and we hit on a remarkable shared experience: that of standing there, observing yourself engaging in a behavior you know will kill you if you sustain it over time, and having the knowledge of that fact affect your behavior in no way whatsoever.
It’s amazing, actually. I stand there, look at some fattening snack that I don’t need, and think to myself “that’s the shit that I need to stop eating, right there. That’s the bad stuff.” And then, I walk over, and help myself to it.
(That’s an emoticon for raising one eyebrow, by the way. See? It’s two eyes? The period is the nose? Yeah. Picked that up on WoW, and have been unable to stop. Again with the compulsive behavior.)
What’s even more remarkable is that I have, in the past, managed to connect the notion of continuing to eat like I do with denying my kids of their father in their adulthood. I mean, if I keep this up, there’s a good chance I’m going to kick it before my grandchildren are in highschool.
Consider that I know what that feels like. My dad died in his sleep at 51 (of being fat, methinks), and I still harbor a certain resentment against him for giving me an adulthood without him. It sucks, frankly.
Yet, I stand there, looking at the open bag o’ Doritos that my co-workers have thoughtfully left out on the table after our TGIFriday meeting, and go ahead and take a few.
Or, a lot. What’s astounding to me is that I can see my children’s faces as I’m doing this, and it doesn’t prevent me from taking the destructive action.
What. The. Fuck.
I have, it seems, a remarkable ability to embrace and endure horrendous internal paradoxes. The strongest emotion I feel about all this is fascination and horror, horror at my lack of horror over my actions (if that makes sense).
My talent, it seems, is to be able to observe the horrendous, in both the abstract and the personal, and understand it very deeply. This, without any desire to actually alter the (infinitely predictable) outcome that awaits at the end of the road I’m walking.
Perhaps to distract myself from the fate in store for me, I have become quite bemused by certain small things that have happened along the road to robustness. I have an idea that all large men go through these little milestones, that they are a kind of shared cultural event (like driving a car for the first time, or your first sexual experience).
These, however, I imagine are only discussed when among other men, and only when sitting around a table somewhere reasonably anonymous. Like a bar. With drinks to lubricate the mind.
Here, then, is the progression of initiations I encountered, and which I am coming to believe all men encounter, while traveling on the road to becoming a Fat Boy:
The first event was when I stopped simply growing larger in general, and began to poke out in front. The arrival of the actual belly is a moment not easily forgotten, and is filled with horror. Dieting ensues.
Then, horror fades, and is replaced by familiarity. Dieting skips, stutters, and dies.
The Hanging Shirt
The second great event was when I could no longer bear to tuck in my shirt. Time it was that tucking in my shirt made for good form, and I could boldly carry my chest about (as it was still larger than the supporting gut).
Then, one day, tucking it in only made it more clear how much larger my gut was than my waist.
The best solution to this, as it turns out, is to simply leave the shirt untucked. A draped shirt, you see, although it doesn’t actually hide the enormousness underneath it, at least obscures it. Button-down shirts are actually better for this than T-shirts.
Since I made this discovery, I have been observing my well-gutted friends and co-workers and, uh, everyone I see. And lo, I’ll be damned if every single one of them hasn’t learned the same trick. Some go for sports jerseys, some go for button downs, but no one save those most comfortable with their rotundity tuck the goddamn thing in. Look around, see for yourself.
The Belly Drops
The most recent event (and, in some ways, the most horrifying) was the day that I realized not only that I had been holding in my gut for years, but that I could not, in fact, hold it in any longer.
I swear, this is what happened: I woke up one morning, looked at myself in the mirror, noticed that I was straining to keep it in, and let it go… and I gained 20 pounds in 0.2 seconds.
I told this story to a friend of mine at work. He laughed and laughed (I have very sensitive, kind friends), and said that he was wondering what had happened, because I looked like I had gained a bunch of weight recently. I assured him that it was just my belly dropping.
Take a look around, and see if you can find any men that have a sort-of large belly. I daresay, you won’t find many. There’s no-belly guys (who are holding it in), and then there’s large belly guys (who let it all hang out). I haven’t seen many in-betweeners.
That’s it so far. What horrors lie in store in the future, my dear and beloved friends? I’ll keep you posted.