Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fat People

An acquaintance--not a friend, the guy is a jerk--recently lost a lot of weight. On the order of 40 to 50 pounds. He wasn't fat, just chunky, and now he has a skinny little body and a big old fat head and he looks, yes, like a bobble-head. Not that's there's anything wrong with that, but it did get me to thinking that I've been trying to dump some pounds and maybe that's not such a good idea. I do not want to look like him. Or, come to think of it, act like him either. He's in his mid-60s, recently single, and the proud owner of a new bright-red-goosed-to-the-limit Mustang with a license plate that reads Ososik. I have fear he may be picked up for loitering outside a junior high school staring at the cheerleaders butts.

I can think of a bunch of people who shouldn't lose weight: Tony Soprano, Chef Boyardee, the Michelin Man, Alfred Hitchcock (yes I know he's dead but still), the fishstick lady, Aunt Jemimah, and the guy three houses down who owns one of the larger Hummers and likes to drive up and down the street playing the Bee Gees on his stereo.

Thing is, you can't help but notice all the fat people. They've become the norm. I was at Panera's the other day and a huge guy ordered three sandwiches. And ate them, along with the accompanying three bags if chips. I see little bitty fat kids at the food store being wheeled in grocery carts by their mothers. What, the kid can't walk? He's got Oreos in both hands and a large Slurpee. What are these people thinking of?

Never mind. Here's installment 26 of Wasted Miracles.

Chapter 3

Johnny D. didn’t like this but Johnny D. did what he was told. It had to do with his lifestyle, which he liked and wanted to maintain. Yes, he had given up booze, yes he had given up doping, yes, he had every intention of staying straight. But that didn’t mean he wanted to give up all the other things he enjoyed, like hanging out, like his car, like not working a nine-to-five and getting paid peanuts. So when the Zulu called and asked for a favor, Johnny D. said, “Yeah, sure, no problem.”
And it wasn’t, not really. He knew the girl, and if the Zulu wanted him to bring her over, he would. On the drive to her house, while zipping through the white Northern Virginia neighborhoods, he managed to persuade himself that the Zulu wouldn’t harm her and this made him feel a little less guilty. She was a nice girl, cute, trying really hard to stay clean and that was good. The $500 the Zulu promised was even better.
The 8:30 meeting was crowded. Of the 30 or so people around the room, he recognized only one person, a gaunt woman with ruined eyes. The guest speaker’s topic was sponsors. Asked to share, Colin said, “What gets me, pisses me off more often than I’m willing to admit, is that my sponsor is right a lot. Like he has a crystal ball and my immediate future is transparent to him. I can’t bullshit him, that upsets me, that’s what I do as an alcoholic, bullshit, what I’ve always done. And the worst part is that I don’t even really like my sponsor.”
He noticed that the gaunt woman smiled slightly. She knew Orin. After the meeting ended she approached Colin and said, “I know where you’re at. I can’t stand my sponsor. She’s a god damned Nazi. But that’s not the issue. Keep that in mind.” As she walked away, she turned around, added, “But Orin, yeah, he’s a particularly nasty sonofabitch.”
Catherine thought she heard Josie’s phone ring but she wasn’t sure. If it did ring, it was only once, maybe twice. A little bit later, she thought she heard the front door slam, but she wasn’t sure of that either. It was either very late at night or very early in the morning, she didn’t pay much attention to it, sleep had been hard to come by and harder to give up. She’d been to two women’s meetings that day, the intensity of the second one had left her exhausted. There were horrible things happening to women out there, events crowded in such emotional and physical violence that the stuff on her mind seemed inconsequential in comparison. One woman was just out of the hospital, her husband--a small brutish man with a heroin habit--had beaten her with the mean end of a hammer, broken her nose, split her upper lip. Catherine herself had never faced such a thing--all Lars did was ignore her, pretty benign behavior, really, more infuriating than anything else.
When Josie didn’t come down the next morning, Catherine thought nothing of it. The girl often left early, her movements largely unaccounted for. When Josie didn’t come home that night, Catherine began to get seriously worried. They had a deal: Josie had to sleep at home no matter what. The agreement had been forced on the girl and signed at the end of the last rehab, witnessed by a counselor. Josie had bitched, moaned, once or twice tested the limits by returning at the break of dawn but she’d never, not once during the last year, really pushed her luck.
At noon, Catherine called Lars at his office, got nothing from him but an irate reminder that she wasn’t supposed to disturb him there.
In Josie’s room she found an address book and methodically started dialing numbers. A lot of them were bad, disconnected, no answer. A few had voicemail or machines with recorded messages. Most entries were first name only and the people she managed to reach had very young voices and didn’t seem overly interested in her daughter’s whereabouts, though they promised to pass the message if they ran into her. A few didn’t even know her daughter, or pretended not to.
By five that afternoon Catherine was frantic.

1 comment:

  1. Not all formerly fat people have big heads... and in some of those who do, it really isn't noticable until you talk with them. Jerks are jerks, no matter the size of their bodies.