Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Weight of the World

My friend Nicole called me the other day to tell me how excited she was that the warm weather was finally coming to the East Coast.

“Oh Julia, I can’t wait! Pretty soon I’ll be lounging around on the beach, and I’m already working on my tan!” Just what I need to hear. Keep talking, Nicole, as I continue to develop my secret formula for cellulite spackle.

For me, the thought of summer sets off a continual loop of the “Jaws” sound in my head at the very idea of not having layers of clothing to cover my body with. Why only this week, I had the landscaper come in to trim the layer of winter fur from my legs and underarms. For Nicole though, it is an awakening; a time to let the world bow before her magnificence, while I silently plot to inject her with ice cream and pie as she sleeps. 

Please. She’s a size four cougar; gorgeous. Of course she’s excited. On the beach, her blonde hair flows in slow motion like a Cover Girl commercial as she sexily snaps her head around to remove it from her eyes, all while men gasp at the very sight of her. I swear that white stallions show up in herds on the beach, begging for her to ride them bareback through the pounding surf, just so they can brag to their horsy friends.

Even her perspiration streams are perfect. They form obediently down from her thorax into her cleavage and instead of it puddling up and forming huge sweat stains on her bikini top, angels come and remove it, and then I’m sure, drop it as a gentle mist upon a rainforest somewhere in the tropics. It never forms on her forehead, as it does on mine, or drip down from her temples, as it does on mine, or cover her eyeglasses so that she looks like she’s constantly crying (she has 20/20 vision of course). There is also no pasty, white gunk dripping down her sides as the result of her deodorant melting. She is perfect.

“Why don’t you come with me to the beach, Julia?” I have to hear this EVERY friggin year. And every year I have to sternly raise one eyebrow and glare menacingly at her.

“Really, Nicole? I’m supposed to go to the beach with YOU? Oh yes, there’s nothing I like better than to use up the last of my dwindling self-esteem, plop my big, fat, atrocious looking body next to yours and watch as nuns decide whether or not to give up their vow of chastity just to be with you.”

“Oh stop!” she says, waving her dainty, skinny hands at me. “You’re not that bad”.

Not that bad. No, if ever the world wakes up to the fact that taut, glistening thighs, stunningly perfect breasts and flat, fatless stomachs are no longer things considered beautiful, perhaps then, I would be able to be ranked in the category of not that bad.

Oh I know that I should be happy with the gifts that I have. I’m reasonably intelligent, have a pretty good sense of humor and ...oh shit, who am I kidding? I’d give those things up in a heartbeat to be a mindless, gorgeous automaton. Where Nicole worries about what type of sunscreen is best for her, I am seriously contemplating using any of the twenty or so miracle cures for “ugly back fat” that find their way into my spam folder each week. Where she contemplates a tasteful tattoo of a dolphin or some friggin Chinese characters extolling the beauty of life, I am researching the death statistics from lapband surgery. 

True, she works out five days a week, and walks several miles a day, while I practice the ancient art of Nah-ping one hour a day. Yes, her entire diet consists of nuts, berries, and skinless chicken, while my dietary choices usually come down to trying to decide if a cinnamon donut has fewer calories than the powdered sugar kind. The results of this study, by the way, are not conclusive; more extensive research is needed.

Yeah, I know that like government, when it comes to our dietary choices, we all get the body we deserve; you are what you eat, blah blah blah. But what about genetics? I’m sure if you put her DNA under a microscope against some of mine, Nicole’s would be just as slim and perky as she is, while mine would be lounging on the sofa eating a bowl of Bosco-topped ice cream

Okay, let’s say that I perhaps could adjust my eating habits. What would be the benefits?
Sure, I would be able to buy clothes in the regular sizes departments of stores and not have go straight to the plus sizes, where everything looks like it was designed by Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.

While we’re on the subject of women’s clothing, can someone tell me why when big, fat guys have to shop for clothes, they get stores with dignified names like He Man, Big and Tall Stores, and we get places called the Dress Barn? Really, a barn? What are we, cattle?

“Alright Tex, round those pretty little heifers up and put em’ in the barn! Yeah Curly, kick that fat one in the ass and shove her into one of the dressing stalls. Oooooo-wee, she’s a biggun, ain’t she? ”

Yes, it would be nice to go to the beach and not have to make the walk of shame from my blanket to the water, and then have to stay in the water for five hours until after sundown when everyone has gone home in order to avoid a repeat performance.

Now some of you might be reading and yelling at your computer screen, why do you care what they think, Julia? And to you I say thank you, but I think the fact that you are yelling at your computer screen indicates deeper psychological problems than mine. You really should seek therapy. Nevertheless, I appreciate the sentiment and it is a question that I have asked myself repeatedly over the years. Trust me when I say that nothing would give me more pleasure than to proudly waddle down to the beach in all my adipose glory, jiggling and bouncing my flab in front of the lean, zero body fat, perfectly tanned gods and goddesses that populate the Jersey shore. I would love to offend them and wish that I could revel in their choice little comments such as “how can she do that” or “someone should speak to her” or “she’s frightening the children”, but I can’t; because somewhere not so deep down inside, I am ashamed of how I look and I know that they are right. I should take better care of myself. The question is why don’t I?

Being fat for one’s entire life is like being chased through the jungle by a starving tiger. You want more than anything to survive and will run at top speed for as long as you can. But at some point, you are just not going to be able to outrun the tiger and sooner or later you will become desperately exhausted. Once you reach that moment you are almost grateful that she’s going to eat you because you don’t have to fight the threat any longer. I think I am at that point.

Being overweight has been an issue for me since childhood. I’m sure it has contributed to my becoming a stand-up comic, because as we all know, stand ups are in desperate need of acceptance. The stage is the one place in all the world where we can be ourselves, and despite the difficulties we face in the real world, can function in a socially acceptable way.

Being a comedian also brings instant gratification, which is the same thing food does for us. Whatever is lacking in our psychological library, we find onstage. And unfortunately for us (fortunate for the audience), the more screwed up we are, the funnier we tend to be. And one can either fight the tiger or embrace her; in that ‘death’ of submission to the world as it is, there is rebirth and freedom.

I guess what I’m saying is that we need to learn to love ourselves despite all of our imagined shortcomings. Some of us are deigned to be like Nicole, while others are destined for other things. We all have gifts, you know? And just because some magazine or TV show wants us to believe that physical perfection is the key to Nirvana, we don’t have to buy into that. If you work at developing a good body, do it for yourself, not for others. If you are of an intellectual bent and really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about being buff, fine. Follow your bliss and your heart, and internal peace will unfold in your life. Just embrace the tiger.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a powdered sugar donut waiting for me in my research lab.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!



  1. Julia! This is brilliant and spot on. There definitely is a book in you....or two...or three. OMG. Joan Weisblatt

  2. Julia... I swear you and I have one brian. I do a joke my husband Mr Romance asked me what do you want for your birthday??? ANYTHING.. money was tight so I told him get me a night gown something in an animal print. You know what he got me. Flannel Pajamas a cow print....from....THE DRESS BARN!!!!!! not the same joke but or minds are so parallel. Too Funny. Loved this post you should submit your posts to the Huffington Post they are as good as anything on there. Sure you would get used. Spot on!!