May 18, 2009



A while ago, I took another civil service exam for another civil service job. The results came and they were okay enough and who knows if it will amount to anything. I had mostly forgotten about the test but a couple recent events sort of brought the whole experience back to mind.

The test was held in the acme of modern lecture hall decor. Theater-sized projection screen behind an elevated stage for the professor. There was carpeted floors and cushioned chairs on the desks. O, those fucking desks. It was the kind where the writing plate, shaped like a pork chop, flips out from the arm of the chair and curves around you.

On test day I chose my seat, a left-handed desk by accident but that's not important, and, oh boy...the squeeze between the desk, my girth and the chair was tight, like a cinched sack, so I had to unflip the desk, retrieve my clipboard from my backpack and sat cross-legged, the fat man lecture desk. So, I have to keep that in mind for the weight loss process. Still can't fit into lecture hall desks. One more milestone to cross, eventually.

I like to keep track of milestones like that during this whole weight loss process. Not just the baggier shirts and pants, but those are nice. Like I just the other day I wore a shirt that I hadn't been able to wear in 5 years, when I bought it. Five fucking years. Shit, I had plenty of hair then, so long ago. If I had any sense I would have quit thinking about it and gotten rid of it, but no, hung onto it, taking up precious closet space for five fucking years. Now, it finally fits me. And it's a 3X.

But there's more than just clothes. Like my wedding ring can only be worn on my middle finger and then it is still lose. I've gone down a hat size, though it feels a little big, and I'm down a shoe size as well. When I make a fist, I can see the tendons in my wrist for the first time. If I flex my leg, I can tell there are muscles there because, my god, there's a dent above the knee. I'm not as worried about walking in a hallway with someone about whether or not we both will fit as I pass. And I don't worry about restaurant booths being too small.

Lecture hall chair, that's just one more to the list. Right in line with being able to ride a roller coaster again. Being able to board an airplane without seeing the look of "oh, fuck, please don't sit next to me" on the faces of the already seated passengers. But all those are right in line behind the next big real step for me in losing weight, buying pants of normal size in a normal store in the normal section.

The last time I bought pants from an actual brick and mortar store was a pair of green slacks from the Big and Tall section of JC Penney about four years ago. They didn't fit quite right, but I needed them right then, as I had a wedding to attend, so I got them. But before then, or a pair of blue jeans and not dress pants, from an actual store? Shit, I can't recall.

My pants were catalogue pants because that's where they had the extended sizes. And more recently, my pants have been online pants because that's where they have the extended sizes.

And I do suppose that I could get pants from stores because most places do carry Big and Tall selections, but god, I hate the Big and Tall section. While BIG is probably the nicest euphemism companies could use for fat clothes, just that it's there like a reminder to those who have to shop there. "You, you BIG people, yes, right, BIG, you go over here, no no no not with the regular clothes but, over here, please, stay over there." It's always separate with a smaller selection and always a helluva lot more floral prints than any self-respecting fat man would ever wear. And also some clothes that draw even more attention to the fatness of you, like JC Penney and their BIG DOG t-shirts. No thank you, JC Penney, I feel my fatness and people can notice it quite acutely without the word BIG splayed across my chest like a warning to oncoming pedestrians. For fuck's sake, Hollister doesn't sell shirts with "Vapid Teen" written across it along with a snazzy logo, unless of course someone on The Hills wore it first.

And Big and Tall stores? I've been in them twice, felt horribly embarrassed about myself and left without getting anything.

The struggle with pants has been lifelong. When I was a boy, my mom dragged on shopping trips to, you guessed it, JC Penney. Straight to the "Husky" section of the boys clothes. She'd pick through the stacks of jeans for whatever size I had ballooned to while I half-looked to keep her from getting mad at me. Whatever she found, I tried on dutifully and and knew that was going to be the pair. No matter how they fit, that was it, to just get out of there, away from the Husky section, away from Penneys and get home. So by my estimation, if I could get a pair of pants closed, they would work. I could be busting at the seams Bruce Banner style, the circulation cut off to my feet, I didn't care. Get me home, get me out of here. So yeah, I lied to my mom about pants.

She didn't fall for it though. Whenever I came out of the dressing room, pronouncing the pants I was wearing to be okay, she would dig her fingers into the waistline to see how tight they really were. Then say exactly what every boy in public wants their mom to say, "Let me check the butt." I would twirl, then she'd either agree of go off to find another pair while I peel these jeans off me back in the dressing room. Hating myself, even then.

Over time, I learned to wear pants and just deal with it the best I could. Get them baggy and wear them high, grandpa high. Button hole over the navel at least and higher if the pants allow. Pants worn that way become like a girdle to allow you to buy shirts that aren't quite that large. See, there's a strategy at work here.

I wore my pants like that for years getting indentations in my skin, wavy lines drawn like raygun blasts in comics, all around me from me pushing hard against my pants all day. They would rub, cut, scrape. Sometimes blood, but not often. Sweat would drip down into the wounds then itch and burn. First thing when I get home was to take off those damn pants, soothing the irritation with cool air and hardy scratches where it itched constantly. My gut is scarred from this. Across my navel area, my stomach dips in like a trough. It used to be deeper when I was fatter for obvious reasons, but you can still tell it's there. Along with the stretch marks and loose skin, that'll be another lifelong reminder for what I had done to myself.

But, soon enough, with enough time and work. I will be able to walk into JC Penney, right over to the regular pants, and with any luck, find my waist size, right there in all it's comfort. I'm getting closer. Inch by inch.

* * *

I wrote most of that a while ago. Before Saturday when I found myself in JC Penney hoping to stumble across a St. Louis Cardinal t-shirt here in Brewer country (no dice). They had these shirts on sale, the button up style that I wear all the damn time, and they were on clearance so I was like, sure, let's see what's rocking here. Emily and I found one shirt, a green one, crayon green, children's programming green, and eyeballed whether or not it would fit me rather than going to the dressing room (I still don't like them) and decided that, yes, we would purchase this shirt. It will fit me.

It was an XL. Just one X. Not two. Not three. One.

After that I was invincible. Giggled like a just deflowered virgin. Completely drawn into my feeling of oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-this-happened-let's-do-it-again kind of way. Where you strut, just a little, wondering if anyone knows how awesome you are, and if they don't, would it be okay for you to let them know about your secret.

However, the next day, in the daylight, like all honest appraisal of that virginity loss, I thought, "Really?" What a wonderful monkey to have off my back, but...It's strange feeling proud for being fat in the socially acceptable way, instead of the speciality store way. This is like half-credit. It's awesome, but, you know...not really.

I don't want to rehash this next part that always seems to come when I talk about all this business. The buts. The "but I'm still fat." The "but 50+ pounds is still a LOT of weight to lose."

There hasn't been a moment in my weight loss that's been completely happy. Even if/when I lose it all, got everything I want out of this, there's already a kick in the face waiting for me, "Why did you let this happen to yourself in the first place?"

However, as sad sack and pathetic as I can make myself sound, I want to be kicked in face that way. I welcome it, want it, need it, yearn for it. I think about it at night. Every time I take a shower I think about it. Walking around, seeing magazines, watching television. I can't stop thinking about it. Please, please, let me have that regret.

viva el mustache


Diana said...

My experience has been it's easy to gain and hard to lose, and I've done a good bit of self-directed fat-shaming, too. So I think you're way too hard on yourself. I admire what you've accomplished.

Bryan said...

I know I'm hard on myself, but that's in everything I do. Not that that fact makes it okay, but weight loss provides one more opportunity for that behavior to express itself.

word verification: dommy

Jorge said...

I think you're kicking the weight's ass, man. I almost didn't recognize you when you were in town.