Autumn: A Conversation with My (Thin) Body: Going Up?
My body speaks to me in the voice of Mo, my late grandmother.
My husband Jerry rarely nags me about my weight, insisting that he loves me at whatever weight, but it must be frustrating to watch me grow bigger and unhealthier, time and time again, and then start the cycle all over again –
Around and around.
He has simply outsourced all nagging to the dead.
More than 30 years after her death, Mo’s voice is as crisp and pointed as ever, except now, my body owns it.
Sometimes, I just wish she or it would shut off the conduit and leave me the fuck alone and allow me to grow fat in peace.
BODY: No, you cannot have any more popcorn.
ME: (Tossing a kernel into my mouth.) What?
BODY: You heard me.
ME: Go away.
BODY: If you want anything else, there’s celery and carrots in the fridge.
BODY: Remember, you sliced them in a rare moment of resolve. And Jerry won’t eat them.
ME: He’ll eat the carrots.
BODY: Not the celery. If you don’t eat it, you’ll just have to throw it out, and you know how Jerry hates to waste good food.
ME: I’ll chop the celery and sneak it into the spaghetti sauce.
BODY: He hates celery.
ME: He won’t notice.
BODY: HA! Of course he notices. That man’s I.Q. runs marathons past yours. He’s just too nice.
ME: (Popping a handful of kernels into the pie hole) He’ll eat it.
Besides, I don’t want sliced vegetables; I want popcorn. I want Cheetos. I want ice cream. I want candy.
BODY: But we need our veggies and fruits.
ME: (Whining) I’m sick of healthy food.
BODY: But I need it! I crave it! I hate junk food! It makes us sick!
ME: (Pouring melted margarine onto the remaining popcorn and licking my fingers) Well, we have a problem then. Unfortunately for you, I get to call the shots, and you’re just along for the ride. (Pops in another handful)
BODY: True, but what does our doctor and Weight Watchers say about junk food?
ME: I don’t care what they say!
BODY: I’ll remind you: “You can have anything, but not everything.” You can have that popcorn, but you must account for it.
ME: It’s just a cliché!
BODY: “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” “The program works, if you work it.”
ME: (Hands over ears) Nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you.
BODY: “You didn’t come this far to just come this far.”
BODY: Grow up already.
ME: I hate you!
BODY: No, you don’t. You love me because you have no other choice. We’re in this together, like it or not.
ME: I don’t love you! You betray me in ways that make me want to puke!
BODY: I betray you only when you abuse me. You take care of me, I’ll take care of you.
ME: Mo was wrong, you know.
BODY: You’re deflecting, now.
ME: You don’t listen to me!
BODY: (Sighing) Okay, how was Mo wrong?
ME: She said that fat women don’t nab husbands.
BODY: You lucked out…
ME: I nabbed two husbands. Did you forget about Jeff?
BODY: You were skinny when you snared him.
ME: Hardly! I weighed more back then than I do now!
BODY: And look what happened when you got fat. He dumped us.
ME: It was a mutual dumping.
BODY: So you say.
ME: Hah! Remember when Mo took us to the doctor because she thought we were too fat?
BODY: I concede we weren’t fat at all, perhaps slightly plump, in an eight-year-old sort of way.
ME: Not like kids today. Blech!
BODY: In the old days, kids were mostly skin and bones, and we weren’t.
ME: I can remember, word for word, what Mo yammered about: “You know what Dr. Mugan says: you got to eat vegetables and lean meat and stay away from all that butter, sugar, and starch…”
BODY: She and the Doc were right about that!
ME: But Dr. Mugan weighed over 250. He couldn’t even get on a bathroom scale, without it reverting back to zero.
BODY: Doctors don’t always practice what they preach.
ME: When I pointed that out, she said, “I don’t care what Dr. Mugan weighs. He’s a man and it don’t matter what he weighs. But you’re a girl, and men, even fat ones, don’t like fat girls. And if you don’t lose all that weight, you’ll never catch a husband. And if you get too fat, you’ll get lazy. I see it already. Your room looks like a pigsty.”
BODY: I can’t say that you’re lazy, but the pigsty part…
ME: Hey, now…
BODY: Well, you do hoard, and you know that there is a correlation between hoarding and weight gain.
ME: I’m working on that…
BODY: Not very hard. When was the last time you did a major cleanout?
BODY: I rest my case.
ME: It could be worse; I don’t save old food, pizza boxes, soda bottles, and garbage.
ME: He dropped dead, you know.
ME: Dr. Mugan. When I was in high school.
ME: Dr. Gerald replaced him. He was young and cute and didn’t badger me about my weight. I think he pissed Mo off because that’s when she dragged me off to that whacko chiropractor.
BODY: (Shivering) He was weird.
ME: (Reaching for a double Reese’s peanut butter cup) Pervert…
BODY: Do you really need that candy? Didn’t you just have buttered popcorn?
ME: It was margarine…
BODY: Even worse. You should wait 20 minutes before you eat again. Even lettuce. Let your appestat work first so you don’t go out of control. You sure could use some self-control these days. You know, gluttony is a mortal sin. A capital sin. The worst kind. Except for lust, but you’re too old to remember that. You’ll go to Hell for sure if you don’t stop stuffing us…
ME: Hey! We don’t buy into that religious nonsense anymore. You can’t threaten me with all that Mumbo Jumbo and Voodoo.
BODY: Who do?
ME: Very funny.
BODY: What’s to be done about you? If you keep on going the way you’re going, they’ll need a derrick to carry us around. Tsk, tsk.
ME: (Snickering)…Or bury us in a piano crate.
BODY: You said it.
ME: Get it over with, already, out of your system. Bring on the dowager, the nag hag…
Take your supplements; eat your lettuce and fruit; don’t wear that – it’s too tight – your belly hangs out; drink your water; no, you can’t have any soda, it’s pure sugar, and you know that sugar is pure poison, did you not understand The Case Against Sugar?; don’t jiggle your butt like that, it’s unbecoming on an old broad like you; do you really think those butt-crack boy jeans look good on you?; if you insist on eating mashed potatoes all the time, at least do it right and fix homemade instead of that instant shit; clean your house, cull through all that junk you pick up at the Goodwill, and get rid of all those clothes you no longer wear – don’t you get tired of digging through your crowded closets?; Do your spine exercises, Medicare didn’t pay all that money so you could slack off; I’m tired of moving a recalcitrant body all around; even when you do roll your butt out of bed every morning, you still moan and complain about how tired you are; no, you can’t go to that auction today; because have you looked at this house lately?; when you and Jerry die, they’ll need a frigging forklift to shovel all this junk out – do you really want to leave all this for the boys?; I know Jerry is partially responsible, but, let’s face it: you’re the main offender.
You know you can’t buy or collect any more rocks or books; the house is already bursting at the seams with stuff that has no place to go, and the shed is full…
BODY: You know I’m right.
So, every day, we go around and round with a variation of this exchange, depending on whether we are fat or thin.
Or somewhere in between.
Thank you, Mo.