Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving Home

At age 18 you leave home for the first time, bound for university, full of youthful optimism about the future and ready to conquer the world. Leaving is bittersweet. Of course you’ll miss your family, but adventure awaits! You are excited to spread your wings, to experience life on your own. You don’t realize at the time that you are leaving for good-- that this house will never really be your home again. Sure, you’ll be home for breaks here and there. The house will be the same except for some new furniture or maybe new curtains. Mom and Dad will be in their usual chairs. It will feel and smell like home every time you return and a part of you will always feel as though you never left.

Four years fly by and suddenly you are searching for your first real job. Renting your first real apartment. Life is happening. You get married . Or you don’t. Have children. Or not. You go to grad school, change careers, travel the world. You live your life thousands of miles from the place you grew up. And time passes so quickly.

Inevitably, you find yourself back in your childhood home. The same one you left decades (my God, how can it be that long?) ago. You’re older now. Youthful optimism has been replaced by healthy cynicism or (worse) resignation. You sort through the remnants of your childhood. Long forgotten toys, homework assignments, beloved books, music in formats ranging from LP to 8-track to cassette. Along with the archeological evidence of your childhood, you find memories in every item pulled from the cupboard—the bowl mom used to mix cookie dough, dad’s handkerchiefs. (He always managed to have a clean one when you were little to wipe your nose or clean your hands.) Every mundane item, from soup ladel to flashlight, is inspected and either claimed as useful or sentimental or relegated to the Goodwill box. The house now stands empty. Lonely. Memories of all those dinners, birthdays, Christmas Eves dance like ghosts in your mind’s eye. There was always so much laughter. But now there’s only stillness. Mom and Dad are both gone. And the house, once so full of life, is silent as you leave home for the last time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beer Goggles are a (Fat) Girl's Best Friend

I had some mixed reactions from people to my last post. Some found my post brilliantly funny (hell yes it was) others seemed to take exception to me saying out loud that I’m fat. Which just seems weird since I am, in fact, fat. I haven’t always been comfortable talking about my weight. For a long time I was so ashamed of it, I wouldn’t have dreamed of calling attention to it. Instead I wore a lot of black and hoped no one would notice my girth. Maybe I would blend in with the walls. Who was I kidding? At my size, the only way this was going to work is if someone thought I actually was a wall. Anyway, recently I’ve started talking about my weight—mostly joking, but also matter-of-factly. After all, it seemed just silly to never mention the elephant in the room (so to speak). I’ve started slipping in a fat joke here, a self-reference there. I’ve noticed that it makes some thin people uncomfortable when I talk about being fat. I guess it is somewhat understandable. If I say to a friend, “Oh, I’m such an idiot,” the friend will say something like “you are not an idiot.” When I say, my God I am fat, they falter. They can’t honestly “you are not fat.” That would make them a liar, an idiot or blind. On the other hand, should my friend agree with me by saying you really are a fucking fat ass, well, that seems mean. So instead they normally say something like” Helen!” in a chastising tone or they make funny, guttural noise and change the subject.

So, anyway, I am fat. And I’m officially on eHarmony! Where I currently have 480 matches! Many of them are fairly unattractive. Some are hideous. Some of them are fat themselves and yet, oddly enough, none of them have tried to date me. One of my thin, attractive friends suggested that maybe they are shy and I should make the first move. So I tried an experiment. I went through and “sent a smile” to each and every one of my matches (except for one guy who was so sad looking that I feared that it was just too mean to do so, though it is most likely he would have rejected me as well). I did this for about the first two hundred and fifty matches before finally losing interest. I got exactly two responses. Both asked me a couple of questions and then disappeared into the ether. I didn’t get enough interaction with either to tell if I would actually like them so it’s not as though I’m heartbroken. Still, I can’t help feeling a little bit put out that nearly 500 hundred men, many of whom are really unattractive and/or much too old for me, are not interested in me…even after I made the first move with half of them. I realize men only date thin women. I mean, I know this intellectually, but I sort of thought maybe my winning personality (hey, what's so funny?) would win at least one or two of them over, but alas, no. As I have pointed out time and time again, online dating is not a good option for fat girls. The problem, of course, is that there’s not enough alcohol involved. Before online dating, you had to meet people the old fashioned way...in bars where, at the end of the night, when the boys are all liquored up and facing the prospect of going home alone, even the fat girls have a chance at getting lucky. Those were the days! Anyway, I figured I'd given it my best shot with online dating. I'd proven my point and was ready to put an end to this experiment. Plus, my subscription was about to expire. So of course I got an email yesterday telling me eHarmony had auto-renewed my subscription for another three months! I’ve basically paid an additional $130 to be rejected by 500 more men. Good times.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Reject You

So recently a number of my friends have been saying things like “are you dating anyone?” Or “What about you, Helen, are you seeing anyone?” To which I reply, “are you joking?” Then they blink at me, wide-eyed and cartoon-like “what? Why not?” “Because I’m fat,” I say. “Oh, that doesn’t matter,” they say. Mind you the people who are telling me this are thin and attractive. Their next line is always “have you tried online dating?” Now it’s me who looks at them wide-eyed and blinking? “Are you mad?” I say. “What?” they say, “Everyone does it now.” “I’m FAT, ” I say. “That doesn’t matter,” they say. Again, thin, beautiful people telling me it doesn’t matter. Last week three different people told me I should try online dating.

Maybe they were on to something. Why not give it a shot? Sure, my friend, M, cautioned me by showing me the photo she had saved to her phone of the man a dating site had said was her perfect match. He was so incredibly unattractive that someone actually thought the picture must have been PhotoShopped to look so bad. Still, there is the off chance David Tennant has dumped his baby mama and is currently trolling eHarmony for a fat girl from the States (can you say green card?) in which case I'm in! And if no one responds to my profile, well then I can answer honestly when people ask me if I’ve tried online dating and say “yes, I have. No one picked me.” Because that, of course, is what happens when you’re fat. No one picks you. My thin, attractive friends tell me I have a pretty face. “Doesn’t matter,” I say. A man will pick a thin girl who looks like she’s been repeatedly hit in the face with a shovel over a fat girl with a pretty face every time. Trust me. I know this to be a fact. My friend J actually said to me once: “I met a girl. She’s butt ugly. She looks like she’s been repeatedly hit in the face with a shovel, but she has a good body so I’ll probably call her.”

So, in spite of M's caution, I spent the better part of my day filling out the preposterous million question profile on eHarmony. Am I vivacious? I asked my friends. Should I call myself “somewhat” attractive? What are four words you would pick to describe me? What are five things I cannot live without? (Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, small batch Bourbon, Champagne and coffee--hey at least one wasn't alcohol,right?) Speaking of booze, the questionnaire wanted to know how often I drink. Does several times per week make me seem like a raging alcoholic? I wonder if there are people out there looking for a fat drunk woman who watches Doctor Who? OMG. After writing that sentence I realize I wouldn’t date me either. Anyway, I completed my profile, uploaded a picture of me holding a glass of wine (because honestly, that’s what I look like most of the time) and waited. Not for long as it turned out. Apparently, I had thirteen new matches right away!

Wow! This was exciting! Until I looked at them. These guys made M’s perfect match look like a Calvin Klein model. Seriously. I’m not joking. Not only were these guys all way older than I am (that’s what I get for saying I like wine and travel, I guess), but they were all extraordinarily unattractive. Now before you tell me how shallow I am let me say this. I am female. Therefore, I am often attracted to men who do not fit in the standard “good looking” category. If a guy is smart and funny and even reasonably okay looking, I’m capable of developing a crush on him. If he’s a bit nerdy, it’s entirely likely I will. I am not overly concerned with looks. Once again, I am fat so being overly concerned with looks would be hypocritical at best. Plus, like most women I know, I'm more concerned with personality. What I’m saying here is that even though my standards are fairly low, these guys were even lower. Of course the very best part of this story is that not one of these fair fellows has tried to contact me. That’s right. I have been rejected by thirteen of the most heinously unattractive men in Los Angeles. I’ll bet at least one of them has saved my picture to his phone and is, even now, telling his friends “can you believe eHarmony said this horror show was my perfect match?”