Friday, June 27, 2008

There's only so much of the earth I care to save.....

So my friend J. is deserting me for the summer. Since he lives in Manhattan and I live in the middle of Ohio, one might think that he has already deserted me by refusing to live anywhere that I might possibly ever think of visiting for longer than a week. One would be right about that, but in this case I mean that he's spending his summer out of cell phone reach.

This makes me frantic.

I have known J. since I was 20, which means, frighteningly, that I have essentially known him for half my life. Ever since the first night we bonded he has been one of my top five people on the planet. Others may rotate in and out of the Top Five, but he always manages to hang on to one of the spots. Aside from having all three of the Most Important Qualities in a Man [Funny. Smart. Gay.], he also understands me in a way that almost no one else does, and yet STILL LIKES ME. Plus, he shares most of my deepest, most crippling insecurities, and yet makes me feel like I shouldn't have those insecurities even while still maintaining them himself. That, grasshoppers, is the kind of friend you don't find every day.

J. is one of the only people I will talk to about my weight, because even though he is very tall and lanky, I know that he is at least as insecure about his own appearance as I am about mine. For instance, I admitted to him a few years ago that I was really sick of hearing about people who've had gastric bypasses, because they've become so common that I really believe that people are looking at me and whispering to each other "Why doesn't she just get The Operation and be done with it?"

He laughed insanely for about an hour, and then said "Yeah. Why don't you just get The Operation? What's WRONG with you?" and then went off in another fit of laughter. If anyone else said that to me I would secretly think "See, he HAS been thinking that, and even though he SOUNDS like he's joking, he REALLY MEANS IT". With J., I know that he's laughing because he's impressed that just for a second, I've managed to sound even crazier than usual and he's laughing at my ridiculousness.

A few years ago, he was working for a large company that produces a product that most Americans carry with them at all times. He was doing very well, outselling everyone in his office, and making lots of money. He transferred to another office and suddenly found out why the Gays mostly stay above the Manson-Nixon line. Within a year he was forced out of his job and found himself living in a strange city with no job and a massive case of depression. He pulled himself out of it, though, and turned his life completely around. Now he has a job with summers off and lives in New York. So, after the year I've had, he's pretty much the only person I've been able to talk to who understands what I've been through and who I can trust not to judge me when I whine about how bad daytime TV has become and why going to the bank and the grocery store can fill up an entire day. Even when I've had times when I couldn't bear to speak to anyone, he would always call me and force me to talk, and then make me promise to call him even if I felt so bad that I couldn't speak, because then we could at least watch TV together over the phone.

And now, when i'm just starting to feel like a human again, he has the gall to take off into the wilderness for the summer, to some retreat in upstate New York where they force you to eat vegan food and learn self actualization through silence, meditation, and the gas brought on by raw diets. He will be living in a TENT for two months. Not one of those nice tents like they have at summer camp, which are up on wood floors and have canvas sides that you can roll up. No. A tent, on the ground, big enough for a sleeping bag and a pee bottle. It goes without saying that there aren't phones. No e-mail. And NO CELL PHONE RECEPTION. So I can't even TEXT him obsessively.

I asked him, what the fuck is the point of living in Manhattan if he has to leave it to sleep on the ground and pee into a bottle for two months of the year?? After all, he cannot understand why I persist in living in flyover country, and yet I have NEVER peed into a bottle outside of a doctor's office. And the last time I went camping, which was in 1993, I forced my girlfriend to drive me home during the day so I could take a shower, and then made her drive me back home the next day so I could attend a Mary Kay party*.

He went on about how he would be able to center himself, and reach self actualization or some such nonsense; I wasn't really listening because I was also watching the Denise Richards reality show and besides, as soon as he brings up his new agey spiritual stuff I generally tend to become deaf in that ear. I realize that I am spiritually crippled, as I will never achieve self actualization because it requires introspection and honesty and why bother with that when you can watch reality TV instead? I also don't think that I have an inner child because that would imply that I have an outer adult.

I guess I can't look down on J. for wanting to become a better person, although I admit I don't want him to become too much better, because then he might not need me as much. I just don't understand why people can't find their inner children at home, in central air conditioning, with cable and internet access. My inner child becomes an inner demon if I am forced to come in contact with nature for more than ten minutes at a time. I once made my doll club give up a perfectly lovely meeting space because in order to get to it I had to drive far enough outside of the city that I passed a barbed wire fence. Barbed wire is a reminder that you've left civilization and are now relying on rusty sharp things to demarcate the boundaries that we leave up to socialization in the city.

So, as only a truly co-dependent friend can do, I started listing all of the problems with this scenario. I asked him about the food. Would he be forced to partake in the raw diet cleanse that overflowed the lavatories one year? J. hates anything and everything to do with The Brown Word, so I thought this might work. No, he reminded me, he has a digestive system of cast iron. Nothing sticks to it, but nothing slides through too fast either. Next, I ruminated on the weather. What about the heavy rains the rest of the country has been having? Won't his tent float away? Annoyingly, this didn't work either.

What about the constant insistence on being green and recycling?? Even though we went to a fancy eastern school and both vote Democrat, neither one of us really recycles. It's just too much trouble, and besides, we don't have children. What do we care as long as the earth lasts through our lifetimes? He claimed that he could stand it for the summer, because really, it was easy to do there since everyone was used to it.

Aha. I pounced. "But what about TOILET PAPER?? Aren't you afraid that they'll pull a Sheryl Crow and tell you to use only one square at a time, or worse, make you use rags so you can RECYCLE it???"

There was silence for a moment. Then he replied, "No. There's only so much of the earth that I'm willing to save".

Yes!!! They'll definitely kick him out after a week or two!!!

*Yes. That was my lipstick lesbian phase, as a matter of fact.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shut Up and Eat Something

I think I may have mentioned before that I am, shall we say, Rubenesque. Heavy. Larger. Whatever you call it. Just not thin.
I am actually ok with this, because I have never been thin, and don't know what its like. Also, and this makes people mad, I have NO health issues. Perfect blood pressure. No diabetes. Slightly high cholesterol, which is hereditary because both my parents have it. It's not from my diet because I eat almost no red meat, cheese, and only allow myself to have eggs like once a month, if that. And I'm fit enough to take my stupid dog for a walk, which means that she pulls as hard as she can on the leash and I have to run to keep up while having my arms yanked out of their sockets. No joint problems. I am in general ridiculously healthy.

I've been on a healthy eating plan for the past month or so, and have lost 20 pounds, which is good because all my old clothes fit again. And I'll probably lose some more, just because I don't want to hit 40 and suddenly develop all the health problems that the medical profession believes I should already have. But I know that I will never be a size 2, or a 4. Or probably even a 10. I am just not built that way, and even when I was in grad school and lifted weights and worked out to the point that I had
muscular definition on my torso and like, sculpted upper arms, I still wore a size 16. I looked a lot smaller, but contrary to popular belief, women can be shapely, muscular, and not emaciated.

I would be delighted to be back in a size 16 now, and would feel very, very thin if I were. But even if I wore a 16, I would still technically be considered huge in a world where size 2 is now the optimal size for women. I'm sorry, but when I was in high school and had the same measurements as Marilyn Monroe, I wore a 12. I look at size 2 jeans and I think, what would it be like to be so small? To take up SO little space on the planet?? I mean, how do those Hollywood starlets who expand to an enormous size 4 during the 8th month of pregnancy carry those giant fucking purses without just toppling over?? How do women that small pick up their kids, or push a loaded grocery cart?? How can they do normal everyday things like take out the trash, or buy a bag of ice and carry it to the car?

I guess the answer to a lot of those questions is, they simply can't. I think it's really disturbing that the ideal woman's shape today is that of a skeletal, tiny, bird. How did we go from women taking more of an equal place in society to women just wanting to physically disappear?

I'm thinking about all of this today, because this afternoon I was, once again, witness to a conversation that made me want to scream fuck you, smack people, and just generally remove myself from the company of women completely. Or, let's be honest, heterosexual women. I've never heard lesbians have any form of the following conversation.

I was with a group of women who were discussing piercings and tattoos*, and the talk turned to bellybutton piercings. Personally, I think piercing your bellybutton is really, really odd. I mean, basically you're punching a hole in the place that once connected you to your mother. I guess I also don't see navels as particularly sexy, either. To me, they're mostly just kinda weird. Especially outies. They look like some kind of malformed genital that just didn't work out.

Anyway, one of the women present had had her navel pierced. One of the other women present, who is extremely thin, said that she was planning to pierce hers as soon as she got her "6-pack" back. She asked to see the other woman's piercing, and of course, there was a lot of giggling, and then that time honored conversation between women that goes something like this:

"Ooooh nooo, I can't show you cause I'm so fat!!" [slapping of nonexistent stomach fat]
"Oh nooooooo, you're not fat, look at MEEE" [pinching of three millimeters of excess skin on stomach]
"You guys!!! You look great!!! Look at my huge roll!!!" [Exposure of tiny fold of skin caused by sitting.]

"No way, you are all soooooo skinny!!!! Look at this huge muffin of mine!!" [Pulling up shirt to display half a centimetre of skin over tiny waistband.]

giggle giggle giggle giggle.

And I have to sit there, in complete shocked silence, as all of the participants are at least 50 lbs lighter than me, and not one of them could wear anything bigger than a size 10.
These women were thin. And some of them were the kind of thin that would even pass muster in Hollywood. And they're all trying to basically out-FAT each other???

I mean, what the FUCK???

And I remembered all of a sudden why I don't have many straight girl friends.

I mean, what am I supposed to do when this conversation takes place around me??

Laugh, and point at their imaginary fat, and say "Oh gosh, yes, you ARE grotesque, please cover that up before I vomit??"

Make retching noises and run out of the room??

Suggest emergency liposuction???

Cover my face and scream "Stop raping my eyes with your cellulite!!!"???

Point and chant "PIG PIG PIG"???

Shriek and giggle along with everyone else and assume that they can't see me?

Or am I supposed to be the jolly fat girl who says "Come on guys, look at ME!! Now don't you all feel so much better???"

Could that be what they really WANT?? Are they really that cruel??

It wouldn't surprise me. Because that's certainly what it felt like.

I don't know. I mean, what if we were all sitting there and one of us had only one leg, or no legs, and then the others started talking about how ugly their legs were?

Or what if one of us was bald, and everyone started talking about how much they hated their hair?

Or what if one of us had cancer, and everyone else started talking about how sick they felt after having that cold going around?

Or if the person with cancer had had a double mastectomy, and everyone started talking about how their own breasts were too small, too large, or otherwise unsatisfactory???

Would they have understood that they were being horribly insensitive and hateful then??

I'd like to think so. But I'm not sure. Because being party to that conversation felt pretty terrible to me. Just for future reference, no matter what you weigh: if you're with someone who clearly weighs quite a bit more than you do, please don't start complaining about how repulsive you are. Because the message to the heavier person is, "My God, if they all find themselves so disgusting, WHAT DO THEY REALLY THINK ABOUT ME???"

I mean, while watching my tiny, tiny friend pinch at the quarter inch of extra skin on her miniscule stomach and proclaim herself "huge", all I could think was, Is she blind? Is she retarded? Does she call me pig behind my back and snort when I walk out of a room?? Why does she even like me??

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't understand women. And at times like this, I'm glad about that.

*Okay I have to be honest. I don't fucking get it. I was trying to talk to a really nice, brilliant, otherwise lovely woman today and I could not hear one fucking thing she said because I could not stop staring at the ring through the middle of her nose. Why the fuck do women want to look like they are livestock?? And i'm sorry, I know you thought that little butterfly on the back of your neck was really cool in college, but what about when you're 75 and it's sagged to the middle of your back???