Like anyone else, I am simply another human in this world. As a human, I’m one of those humans whose weight has gone up and down. This means my body has gone through changes. I’ve aged some and my healing process is not what it used to be.
Neither is my metabolism for that matter.
I am not here to appeal to anyone for sympathy nor judgment. I am fine, in fact I’m improving on a daily basis. However, rather than appeal to anyone for unsolicited advice; instead, I am here to expose myself as a regular person who’s been both up and down on the scale.
I’d rather normalize the concepts of eating, or should I say not eating properly. I’d like to do this without shame or without disguising this as something else. No, this is a simple text from a used-to-be skinny kid who could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Then one day, age decided to show up.
It’s funny, too, because I used to eat everything. I used to eat a bunch of fast food and then I’d eat dinner. As a young man, I can recall stopping in for a few burgers to eat on my train ride home and literally, I was skin and bones. I can even recall devouring some of my burgers and there was a woman who was seated nearby. She asked how many more burgers were in my bag.
But I had to explain, “There’s only two more because I have to eat dinner when I get home. (My Aunt was a really good cook! but in total, I probably had about two big-macs, maybe a few cheese burgers and some fries and if the McRib was around, I’d have definitely polished that off too.)
I could eat as much as I wanted and no matter how I tried to gain weight, nothing ever stuck to my ribs. In fact, I used to drink weight gain shakes because I was way too thin.
By the way, people hated me for this!
I was skinny to say the least yet there were friends of mine who would guarantee that I was going to “get fat,” to which I would say something like, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
There were people who literally told me how they hated to watch me eat; and me in my youthful, carefree binges with burgers and whatever else – I’d just laugh or smile and say the old saying, “Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.”
Well, the game changes as we grow older. And yes, my fascination for fast food has not gone away. Instead, I have had to learn how to keep this at bay.
A few years back, I was heading for an agreed binge with some of my co-workers to grab some White Castle hamburgers. Although White Castle calls them suitcases, they are not typical-sized suitcases. But still, they’re called suitcases, to which we had two of them filled with 20 burgers each. We had fries and all the other good jazz that goes with this. We ordered enough food to feed a village. And why not? We work for a living, right?
There’s nothing wrong with a little festiveness at the workstation is there?
I recall being greeted by the young woman at the counter who said, “Hi Ben,” with a smile and handed us the food.
My co-worker’s face turned a little odd. He shook his head but waited until we were outside before saying anything.
Then he hit me with it.
“Do you wanna know how you know you’re getting to be a fat fuck?”
I looked at this short man who was somewhat plump himself and in fairness, he had no business criticizing me, but there is no fairness in wise ass friends..
The two of us were walking down 8th Avenue and heading towards a taxi with suitcases and bags of food.
I asked with somewhat of a laugh, “No, how do I know that I know I’m getting to be a fat fuck?”
“When the girl at the counter in White Castle knows you by your first name.”
He laughed . . .
Now, in the history of wise-ass insults and on a scale from 1 – 5 with 1 being the weakest and 5 being a zinger; I’d have to give him a 5 on this one. But then of course, I ripped into my co-worker (and friend) with a barrage of short and fat jokes to which he responded, “Ah, but does the girl in White Castle know my name? No. She knows YOUR name!”
I laugh and I can say that age has changed the way my body processes food. I can say that White Castle’s double cheese burgers are not always a friend to me.
I can say that I cannot eat the way I did and if (or when) I do, I find myself in this narcotized state; otherwise known as a food coma.
I still believe that food is love. However, as age has put me over the 50 mark and while my belly is not as trim as what it used to be – I don’t see competitive eating as a sport anymore.
There’s no reason to eat so much and there’s no reason to be that full. But still, there are moments when there are special occasions and I allow these occasions because otherwise, why bother?
There are times when it’s okay. There are times when you can let yourself go and you can eat and you enjoy. You fill yourself up with the food you love. But mindfulness is a priority for me now.
And now here it goes –
I love a good oxtail stew. I love the sauce. I love the flavor, especially from a place in the Bronx, which is part love, part heaven and part simply out of this world.
I love a good stew. I love meat and potatoes and, of course, I love pasta. I love bread. I love the carbiest of carbs and the mother of all creations, deserts and cakes and chips and well; I’m sure you get the drift.
I suppose my reason for explaining this to you is because first, I want to be humble and honest. Secondly, I offer you this because there is an insecurity which does not sit well with me. It can be degrading when facing the mirror and seeing things like a belly that should NOT be as large as it is.
Hence, the desire to change and improve.
Hence the nutritional change.
Hence, if I’m being honest – I do miss the pig-out sessions.
There was a quick passing moment when I saw an old friend in Grand Central Station. I said hello and he said hello back.
This was someone who knew me when I was younger and thin as a rail to which he inquired, “When did you gain all that weight?”
I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell did I say hello to this guy for?”
I have never been obese, per se and, at the same time, I am not as thin as I used to be. As well, I am someone who understands the need for self-care and preservation.
Since this is true, I’ve decided that I want to live a little longer. So, in addition to this decision – I’ve been eating healthy. I’ve been watching my food intake and drinking more water.
But, if I’m being honest, there are times when I see food; I see pizza, I can smell the fries in the elevator from someone who just came from McDonald’s.
In fact, the other day, I was at work and there was someone in the rear corner of a crowded elevator. I was in last which left me up in the front of the elevator cab.
I could smell the aroma which was literally intoxicating. With my back to the other passengers and face towards the elevator, I picked my head up, ever so slightly, as if to inhale a familiar scent.
I responded to this aroma like a connoisseur of fine wine, enjoying a bouquet of Chateau Le Pin, which retails for a little more than $27,000 and I asked, “Did somebody order Shake Shack?”
A young woman replied, “Yes” with a big smile.
She asked, “You can smell it?”
I smiled back in return and explained, “Yes, I’ve been eating healthy and behaving but the smell of that makes me rather be fat!”
I joke (kinda) but I still remain with my intention,
Food is love.
It’s just that sometimes . . .well, we have to learn to love ourselves a bit more carefully.
Most I ever ate in one sitting:
Two racks of ribs, one whole chicken with all the sides, the corn, cornbread and whatever else there was. Not to mention that this was during lunch with my other co-workers. All of them were heavy too.
I started after them and finished before them and to top it off, since I was still hungry, I went downstairs to the hotdog cart on 54th Street an 3rd for three (or maybe four) more hotdogs and a knish.
Wanna laugh? I only weighed 135lbs at the time.
Age does have a sense of humor
(and fortunately, so do I).