Sunday, February 24, 2008

astonished

This morning, after Ted opened the store and I set up my Twitter account, we ran a couple errands and went to IHOP for breakfast. We hadn't been there in a while, and I woke up craving cheese blintzes.

Now, I have to go backwards.

I am fat; have been most of my life. I fought it for many years, but repeatedly dieting only ever made me temporarily smaller before making me permanently bigger. I made a conscious decision to stop all attempts at weight loss when I was 22 years old, and with the exception of one moment of weakness in 1991 (old habits die hard, especially in the face of constant bombardment), I haven't dieted since.

I believe that dieting is worse for my health than fatness ever was or will be. I eat intuitively. Such a concept flies in the face of an industry that creates unfathomable methods and imposes insane rules. Luckily, I love nutritious food, so it makes up the bulk of what I eat every day. The net result is that I am simultaneously fat and healthy. It has confused every marginal health care provider I've ever had, and pleased the good ones.

Don't get me wrong. I totally love sweets, too. I have them when I want them. As my mother (and her mother, and her mother's mother) said, "all things in moderation." Smart women (of which, I count myself). My old job had a company-subsidized cafeteria, which was extremely convenient. This resulted in a nearly daily routine of a fresh salad, a can of Fresca, and a chocolate chip cookie for lunch. The diet industry and all those who have been brainwashed by it would look at that lunch and say, "Oh, you were doing so well until you added the cookie!" My intuition (and previous experience) tells me that the one cookie after my salad was perfectly acceptable (not to mention enjoyable), and probably prevented me from stopping at the store and picking up a box of Hostess cupcakes to eat in its entirety within the next 24 hours (an old trick from before I was so smart).

It was not easy getting to this point. In addition to the food aspect of this change, I also had to learn to accept myself without reservation. Although this is a lifelong process that every intelligent human must endure, I have found it to be tricky at times because world is constantly telling me that my size makes me unacceptable. It forces me to be defensive, a posture I've never embraced (hence my claim of being a "passive size activist"). That said, I had a good foundation of parental esteem-building, and once I had my own personal epiphany in 1994, most of the external barbs went away. Once in a while, a complete stranger is compelled to say something brilliant to me, but it usually the exception now, not the rule.

So back to this morning. Ted and I are two of a hundred people at the very popular pancake restaurant. The place is bustling. There's a crowd waiting in the foyer, and people standing outside. We are seated, enjoy our breakfast, and head out. Ted opens the door for me (how chivalrous!), and I keep walking toward the car while he stands in place for an elderly woman who had just been dropped off at the front door.

She said something to him, I didn't hear what. When I turned around, he was just standing there confounded, with a look of utter disbelief on his face. This stance lasted a couple of long seconds, while the old lady stood in front of him and looked at him with what appeared to be eager, nay gleeful, anticipation of an answer. I headed back toward him, and he said "I left the table" while shaking his head. She turned and walked into the restaurant.

He turned to me and said something to the effect of, "What the hell was that?" I asked him what she'd said. She said to the kind man who was holding open the door for her...

wait for it...


"Did you leave anything for me?"

Not "Good morning."

Not "Nice day, isn't it?"

Not "Thank you for holding the door for me, young man."

No. Instead, she cracked herself up with a joke that the fat man must have eaten all the food in the restaurant before she got there. I might have been able to shake that off as the type of politically incorrect thing that the elderly sometimes say because their ability to filter such things has diminished with old age. But hers was not just a rhetorical question asked for the sake of comedy. She stood there and waited for him to answer her. Usually sharp-tongued, Ted stumbled because he didn't want to be rude to her -- leading to the long pause and his "I left the table" response.

Upon telling me this story, my first response to his query ("What the hell...?") was that she was rude, plain and simple. Then I said he totally should have looked her in the eye and as seriously as possible said, "No. I ate everything. Go somewhere else." No, I wouldn't have been able to do it, either.

The whole thing left me hacked off for a while afterwards. It's interesting timing for me (which is silly because it didn't happen to me, it happened to Ted) because I have been entangling myself in the Fat Rights movement more and more these days. I have dramatically expanded the "Blogs I Read" and "Size" lists on the right side of my blog, after having spent countless hours reading them. I joined the COFRA website, and have even committed to attending the next BFB Think Tank in Chicago (circumstances allowing). I've been building myself up to see if I can shake the "passive" off my size activist descriptor, and then something stupid like this happens.

I have no neat and tidy end to this anecdote. So with that, nearly four hours of writing, editing, and otherwise formatting this silly entry, I need to go to bed. I must be up at 5:30am.

2 comments:

HAR said...

He should have said:

"No, You are so old and wrinkly I thought you would croak before you even hobbled to your table."

But I'm mean and he is probably a nice guy.

Karmyn R said...

That's horrible.

That is one of those comments that sticks in your head for a long time. I hate it.

Once when I was crossing a street on a nice day (feeling really good about myself)a convertible car with 2 cute guys stopped to let me cross. one said, "Whoa, Don't hit that girl". The driver said, "No way, she'd ruin my car". I've never ever forgotten that comment. it still hurts 12 years later.