Saturday, April 20, 2013

Of Food and Vanity

Not my favorite post ever, but it'd been a while...

I sit here on my couch, staring at the empty pizza box, which is now covered with crumbs and a crumpled up, sauce-stained napkin; its former inhabitants now inhabit only my stomach. I lay back onto the couch, feeling quite nicely full. Yet somehow, I'm not sated. Dissatisfaction lingers. A question sounds in my mind, over and over on repeat.

"So, how long do I have to wait until I can get Dairy Queen?"

What is wrong with me? I just ate an entire pizza. Yet, like Ariel... I want more.* We all know that I'm a former fat kid at heart, and apparently I've maintained the appetite and eating habits of one. I love food; going out to eat is my favorite thing. And my obsessive need to feel like I'm getting my money's worth means I will always clear my plate. This is not good, since I unfortunately also suffer from a debilitating disease known as "former fat child syndrome". FFCS affects thousands, yet no one ever speaks about it, likely for fear of social stigmas**. But I will be that brave soul, that man among men, to open up about this difficult subject.

*my food network show would be called 'Today in Unnecessary Eating'
**and also because possibly they don't know about it since I made it up

Symptoms of FFCS include, but are not limited to:
  • Being thin and flabby
  • Feeling guilty about everything you eat
  • Arbitrarily deciding to order something marginally healthier than what you were about to order
  • Staring at your stomach, feeling sick to it as you notice how it's expanding over time
  • Refusal to go swimming, be in a bathing suit, or otherwise shirtless*
  • Deciding to cut back on eating, followed by eating indiscriminately
  • Looking at yourself in the mirror pitifully
  • Worrying about having multiple chins
  • Intense body envy of people that are 'in shape'
  • Unwarranted belief that everyone is in shape but you
  • Saying "I'm so fat" or "I'm gonna get so fat" and annoying the crap out of your friends who see you as a very skinny person

Your friends will think you're fishing for compliments and that you're obnoxious; this is not the case. I have never fished for complements in my life - these are, in fact, genuine feelings and concern of fatness. Your friends will not understand why a skinny person would be constantly worried about being fat... but once you've been fat, you know that at any day could be the day when you go back to where you were. Frankly, I didn't do all that much work to get thin, it just sort of happened suddenly, so it's not an illogical hypothesis that therefore I could also get fat suddenly and without warning. Look, my stomach has heft it didn't used to have anymore, okay? IT'S REAL. I packed on some weight this winter, and believe me, it ain't pretty. Fortunately, as the per the above rules, no one is allowed to see me shirtless, so no one can really tell I'm getting heavier. But since they can't tell, they again think I'm being overdramatic or exaggerating - it's a lose-lose-lose. Lose.

*you better believe swim unit in gym glass was my own personal hell

I know my lot in life... my body is the before picture, and everyone else's is the after. See, if you have FFCS, you will no doubt be more attuned to the ridiculously perfect bodies of everyone who is not you. Somehow, everyone seems to just automatically be naturally fit, those jerks. "Now, now", you're saying, "they're probably gym rats". This may be the FFCS talking, but I THINK NOT. I think yeah, some people work out, but everyone starts with some base body. Some people, me included, have a flabby base with which to work. And other people got a starter set that was way muscle-y. I had a friend in THIRD GRADE tell me he had a six-pack. I had no clue what that meant at the time, but the point is that HE WAS A THIRD GRADER WHO HAD A SIX PACK. What is that madness? Nice of his genetics, I suppose. But everytime I meet someone, it's like, "oh of COURSE you have a great body, because you're everyone else on the planet". 

I find people with good bodies annoying and a personal affront to me; as if they're doing it on purpose, flailing their effortlessly perfect physiques in my face. Another symptom of FFCS is that you only remember seeing in shape people and filtering out everyone else, so despite reason telling me there are plenty of flabby people like me, my gut* tells me no, in fact everyone else is ripped. My roommate was showing me pictures of her co-workers, and sure enough, every guy was swole like Uwe Boll**. Stopping on the last co-worker, I began my frustration.

     Caitlin: Why does it bother you so much?
     Me: I just feel if I looked like [co-worker], I'd be happier and my life would be better and perfect.
     Caitlin: Yeah, but [co-worker]'s an orphan whose parents died and he lived with his grandparents and had a really sad childhood.
     Me: Would I kill my parents for that body??
     Caitlin: [Stares]
     Me: [Biting on my nails]
     Caitlin: [Still staring]
     Me: I mean, obviously I wouldn't kill my parents!

I blame FFCS for my brief momentary lapse into psychosis there. You see how it works? It's dangerous!

*pun intended
**not an actual phrase but what else rhymes with swole? Bob Dole? Gary Cole? A sourdough roll? Mmm, sourdough...

I suppose the bad body thing wouldn't be that bad if I had a nice mug, but let's face it - I have a writer's face. As previously discussed, my face is not terrible when taken on it's own but when put next to a nice face it starts to look like a Picasso. My one attribute that I had going for me was my hair, until - to my horror - my haircut lady pointed out to me that my hair was thinning. I'M TOO YOUNG TO BE BALD. First I'm too young to have wrinkles, and now my hair is peacing out? She explained that it was probably due to stress, which made sense given my personality. So, in keeping with that, I immediately began stressing over how to stop stressing in order to keep my hair. A foolproof plan it is not. Frankly, it's not like I know what to do with my hair anyway - I don't know how to style it or anything - but I'd like to keep it just the same.

In dire times like these, I try to remember what Caitlin said to me following the above conversation.
"Listen, we may not be the best-looking people out there, but there are people who are WAY uglier than us. So we got that goin'."
Look, it may not be the St. Crispin's Day speech, but I think those are words to live by. I mean at least I don't have a hunchback. And frankly, I don't know where I get off being so vain. It's an odd thing, because I don't care at all about it until suddenly I do. Anyone who knows me could easily point out I have no stake is my physical appearance... like I've said, I don't know what to do with my hair, I dress in an entirely non-descript fashion - I'm certainly not trying to impress anybody. So if I'm not trying to impress anyone, why do I care? What does it matter if my stomach is hanging more precariously than it was six months ago? Is it for my esteem? Would a better body or whatever really make me happier? (Strangely, I believe it would.) Is there anything I can do?

I've got two hundred dollars in gift cards that have been burning a hole in my pocket for a couple years now. It's incredibly frustrating because I feel like I have money but it's locked up in a safe that I can't reach. I beg and plead with everyone I know to buy them off me, since they claim to use Amazon all the time. Instead of seeing the logic in that, they just tell me how ridiculous it is that there's nothing I want to buy on Amazon. It's not ridiculous at all... I don't need things, I don't buy stuff; I have too much stuff as it is. I'm not gonna waste my money and something I don't need. The only things I spend money on are rent and going out to eat (and the Veronica Mars kickstarter). That's all I need. I'd rather get $200 worth of meals from Chipotle or spend money traveling (I wish) than an iPad I don't need. Amazon can help me with neither my rent nor with food*, so I feel like my money is in its very own episode of Locked Up Abroad.

*oh and you better believe I tried to buy food gift cards off Amazon. I made it all the way to checkout and then found out you can't use gift cards to buy gift cards and had a tiny rage-induced aneurysm.

My co-workers began suggesting things for me to buy. "A digital camera!" No, I'd use it like one time. "CD's? Music?" I laugh, as if anyone buys CD's anymore. Even if they did, I'm not into music enough to want more than one song from anybody. "Well, what do you want?" They asked, frustrated. "There's gotta be something you want!" I stood at the copier, thinking. "Can I buy abs?" I realized excitedly. They laughed, cause I'm so hilarious.

But seriously though.