“How’d you get to be so pretty?” my grandfather says, teasing me.
“I don’t know! ” I would respond, giggling at the non question. At five years old, I hadn’t developed the part of my brain that gauges sincerity and playfulness. I still haven’t. If you came up to me right now and said “How’d you get to be so pretty?” I’d probably roll my eyes at you and fart.
(photo by: JON DEAN)
My roommate and I frequently visit Sonic late at night on the weekends. He orders a small milkshake and onion rings. I order two large milkshakes because I can’t decide on one. I love the brazen sweetness of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Master Blast® but I also need a Fresh Banana Classic Shake w/ extra whipped cream to bring me back to reality. Both of these milkshakes combined, total over 3,000 calories. We laugh about the upcoming election. I don’t mention that I’ve already been to Sonic today. I’ve practically forgotten it myself.
We come to a stop light and I look over to the adjacent car. The person in the drivers seat is looking back at me. She probably assumes that I’m bringing someone else a milkshake and not double fisting twice my caloric intake.
Moreland Avenue is a major road that cuts thru East Atlanta. It hosts the largest selection of fast food in that area. Once a month I’ll drive down and go to every single drive thru restaurant in one swing. Cook Out, Krystal, Wendy’s, McDonalds, and Sonic. I’m finishing off chicken nuggets from the first place as I cruise up to the next. I crumple up the fast food sack and throw it over my head where it lands in the backseat of my car.
In an alternate universe, there are adorable happy children sitting in the backseat of that car. I’m driving my family to the mountains for our annual vacation. I’ve packed a picnic basket full of wholesome snacks. My husband is laying back in the passenger seat with his arms crossed. He peaks out of his left eye and catches me looking at him. He smiles, resting his hand on my thigh. My face glows and I return my gaze to the rear view mirror back to our kids, only the back seat is empty. I glance back to the passenger seat but no one is there. I’m alone in my car and the lady at Long John Silver is yelling through the intercom. “Uh, 6 shrimp please,” I respond. By the third call box food doesn’t even taste good anymore, but I can’t stop. Stop for what?
I imagine my grandfather teasing me now, “how’d you get to be so disgusting?”
By the time I get to Sonic, it’s the end of my marathon and I want to kill myself. I wish this was a hyperbolic statement. I’m so full. I’m sick. I’ve taken a sweater and balled it up tightly, wedging it between my lower back and the car seat. The weight of all the fast food is causing my spine to lose its alignment. This is a nightmare I can’t wake up from.
If you can’t be who you want, then eat what you want. My life reduced to a phrase written on a Target sweatshirt. There’s a girl out there with love in her heart, flowers in her hair, and underwear so tight that it’s cutting off her circulation.
A few days later, I’m sitting in the drive thru line at Chik-fil-a and my bra is cutting into my side. It’s digging into my skin. I’ve gained so much weight that my bra leaves red rings around my stomach. Sexy. I can’t wait for a guy to try and rip my bra off in a fit of passion and realize that the only reason I went home with him is because of the lack of oxygen reaching my brain. I’m pretty sure bras are supposed to gently hug your waist and the straps pull your boobs up in the commonly accepted position of straight forward for all the world to see.
Not me. My bra is too busy gathering loose skin into rolls, smelling like stale cigarettes, and collecting loose crumbs of food. My bra straps have given up entirely. They’re like infected tonsils who serve no purpose, except to remind me that I once needed them. They fall off my shoulders 100x a day as if jumping from a building fire. My boobs are propped up by my sheer enormity. That’s what I call my stomach any time I have to sit down or bend over or look at it in the mirror.
I weigh 240 pounds. That’s as much as two female contestants on ABC’s The Bachelor combined.
In reality, I stopped thinking about my bra as soon as I started. I’m used it. It only bothers me sometimes when someone good looking stares straight through me like I’m a ghost. Right now, all I can think about is this Chik-fil-a hand spun milkshake sign I’ve been sitting in front of for 30 minutes. Hand spun. Marketing at it’s finest. I have no idea what hand spun means but it sounds awesome. Like the dictionary definition of the word. As in awe-inspiring. Christ-like. I don’t even care that it’s 8 o’clock in the morning. There’s no better time to accept 1,000 calories into your heart. Straight into my heart and all the veins leading to my heart and my ass and stomach and just a tad to my second chin for good measure. I just had two milkshakes last night but these calories have died for my sins and it’s hand spun.
I order it, but, because I’m so close to work, I have to suck the whole thing down in three minutes before any of my coworkers see me drinking a milkshake this early. “It’s ok,” I tell myself. I’m going on a diet first thing tomorrow. I crawl into work, catatonically full. The warm sun is pouring into the window of my office while my eyelids grow heavy.
I’m tiny. I smile. I have pretty hair that smells fresh and catches the reflection of the sun. I eat small portions of unprocessed food in a tiny wooden bowl with a gold spoon. My lips are disproportionately large like the perversion of nature. My mouth, while mostly closed and smiling, opens to allow in a bite or two of dandelion greens sprinkled with lemon zest.
This is what plays in my head when I’m passed out at work after having a milkshake for breakfast.
I wake up suddenly and my heart is beating fast. I turn on my computer monitors and rub my eyes. I go to check my email, but not before messaging my co-worker:
“What’s for lunch?”