Despite the obnoxious email from that stupid blue train, I had a nice Mother’s Day. I watched two movies, which is a monumental feat. I still did dishes and laundry, but I don’t know how to relax. What can I say?
Around five p.m., my mother called. She asked the obligatory Mother’s Day questions—“How was your day? Aren’t you glad you shot out a kid?”—then she asked, “How’s my good eater?”
“He’s fine,” I said.
“Junior’s such a chunker lately! He has such a good appetite.”
I found myself bristling, which is never a good thing, especially on a national holiday.
“He’s growing,” I said.
“I know!” she snorted. "He's a little fatty pants."
After we hung up, I poured myself a scotch. I was mad. You see, the paradox of my life is that my family has made me believe I am fat when I’m not, and I don’t want the same fate for Junior.
I know the word fat is relative—a 90-pound model may believe she is “fat”—but I’ve never weighed more than 135 pounds, and I’m 5’5”. (There was the time I weighed 175 pounds but I was nine months pregnant, so that doesn’t count.) In my humble opinion, I don't look obese.
The family-thinks-I’m-fat thing started when I was nine, when my mother had a reception to celebrate her remarriage. While my grandfather was up at the podium he said, “And here’s a toast to my grand-daughter, Blubber.”
He pointed to me. Everyone chuckled. I was mortified. I only weighed 75 pounds, which in hindsight seems reasonable. When I look at old pictures, I certainly don’t seem blubberish. A little chunky in the face maybe, but what pre-pubescent girl doesn’t carry a little baby fat?
My grandfather continued to call me Blubber. (Not wanting to leave out my step-sister, he called her “Flubber”, because she wasn’t very bright. Such affectionate wit!) News of my alleged obesity spread. At my cousin’s fifth grade YMCA pool party, I was on the diving board when my uncle shouted, “Tidal wave!” And once, I backed into my grandmother while tying my shoe and she shouted, “Whose fat ass is that?” I was in eighth grade at that point and, at 5'4", weighed 127 pounds.
There are countless other faticisms sprinkled in there, but I’ll spare you.
My weight stayed pretty consistent until junior year of high school, when I came down with Mono and lost 15 pounds. I was down to a size two. I was euphoric until the weight started to creep back. I ballooned up (hah!) to 125 pounds and was miserable about it. My mother told me not to worry; maybe I’d get a cold or the flu and drop the weight again.
I didn’t, so I dabbled in bulimia.
I wasn’t a very good bulimic. It hurt my throat and I had to throw up outside so my mother wouldn’t hear me. That sucked in the winter. I never lost weight, I just developed a very fucked up attitude towards food, so I stopped after six months (at the time, the movie "Nadia" about gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s eating disorder was a good motivator—love those angst movies).
After college, my weight held steady in the high 120s. At family functions, aunts and uncles would ask, “Did you lose a ton of weight?” My grandmother would comment, “Good, you’re looking nice and trim.” As if I’d battled the bulge all my life. As if I’d been a contestant on the Biggest Loser and had finally gotten my weight under control. All 130 pounds of me.
I'd like to say that adulthood has saved me from obnoxious observations, but just last weekend, my uncle pulled a wooden chair over for me to sit on and said, “Sorry there’s no cushion, but it looks like you’ve got enough of your own.” I literally looked at my ass to see if there was an extra 100 pounds he could see that I couldn’t.
It’s the weirdest fucking thing. After a lifetime of commentary I have to wonder, did I sleep through a period of my life when I weighed 500 pounds and then remarkably lost it? Do I have an obese twin sister whom I never met who and whom I keep missing at family functions?
More importantly, will the culmination of the ridicule be defacement of my tombstone by my evil family members? Will they graffiti my grave with “Here lies Fatty?” even though I'm literally bones? Will my life really be a paradox whose grand finale is irony?
No! Not that.
Anyway. Chuck, dear, this is why I wear granny bathing suits. This is why I don’t like eating in front of other people.
And this is why I will not tolerate my family members calling Junior "fatty pants."
Never, ever, ever.