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 Youthful optimism has been replaced by healthy cynicism or (worse) resignation.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.