Food Should Be Like Sex, Dammit!

(NOTE: This essay is part of a group of essays, written roughly between 1993 and 1997, which I privately call “The Receipts.” They were essays written when I was an unquestioning lad engaging with the world in pure shock-jock mode, and if you want proof that I used to be an absolute dingbat, well… Here’s the receipts.

(It’s essays like these in part that made me create the BS-O-Meter plugin for my site, where I said:

(“Part of living life honestly on the Internet means you crystallize some of your past self and present it for current critique – which is fair.  But when you blast Past Ferrett for some crude take, just keep in mind that Current Ferrett may be cringing at being related to that idiot, kind of like those embarrassing relatives who won’t stop posting Trump memes on Facebook – yeah, I’m connected to him, but I’m not exactly proud of that fact.”

(In this case, I left these essays up because I don’t believe in deleting past stupidity.  If you wish to use this as proof that Past Ferrett was an idiot, well, I won’t disagree with you.  If you wish to use that as proof that Current Ferrett is an idiot, well, I can’t blame you.)

I can never feel normal around the dinner table when I am with my friends. It’s not that my friends aren’t a great bunch of people, but they have this distressing habit of homing in on the one thing that you’re deathly embarrassed about – and then they’ll harp on that thing until you just want to crawl under the table and nail the tablecloth to the floor. And I can’t eat with them because, as far as I’m concerned, the suckers just don’t eat.
I’ll sit there, my stomach rumbling like a 747 coming in for a landing, and they’ll casually hold their hands up and say, “You know, even though I haven’t eaten a thing since last Tuesday three weeks ago, I’m still not hungry! Why don’t you just give me one of those little half’n’half cartons that comes with a coffee and that should hold me for another year.” And everyone around the table will nod their heads in unison, saying things like, “Actually, a half’n’half carton would be too much for me. I’ll just suck the nutrients out of one of these spearmint toothpicks here and that’ll do me fine.” “Can I just have a pat of butter? Waitaminnit, that’s got cholesterol. Nothing for me, thanks….” and meanwhile, I, who had been considering having the “MegaWaffle special”, which is twenty pounds of waffles doused liberally in four quarts of genuine Vermont syrup, will suddenly feel my stomach shrivel up like a raisin. I don’t want to admit that I’m hungry in front of these ersatz Ethiopians, so I’ll meekly order a small diet Coke and gnaw on shredded napkins, desperately trying to stave off my imminent starvation.
I like to think that everyone is secretly a giganto pig like me, but the problem is that I am a closet fatty hanging around naturally skinny people. I myself am not fat. Technically. I’m in that horrid category of only being about fifteen pounds overweight, which means that I am trapped in that horrid Twilight Zone of having everyone think that I am thin – but I know that I need to lose some serious poundage. None of my friends weigh more than a hundred pounds – and that’s if you put ’em all on the scale together. They can take their shirts off around each other. The women can wear tank tops.
Does this seem like a strange thing to long for? Then you’re skinny, and I hate you. To those of us who are in that crucial ten-to-twenty pounds overweight category, we dream of taking our shirts off. Or wearing tank tops. But the problem with being just marginally overweight is that you look good… as long as you keep your shirt on. The minute you take your shirt off, people start to notice that you don’t have ribs so much as you have symmetrical bulges. They realize that the little pouch you had in that loose shirt you wore was not in fact a pouch, but an embryonic gut. That body they had just naturally assumed was underneath your clothing sort of melts and droops like wax in all the wrong places. If this ever happens to you, for God’s sake – do yourself a favor and don’t try to flex your muscles. All your muscles are swimming around underneath the fat. You’ll just push the fat up a little more and your friends will wonder why you’ve started bulging strangely.
(If you don’t believe that people actually think like this, just wait until the next heat wave. Wait and see which of your friends will gaily whip their shirts off and which of them stand around sweating stoically in the heat, their underarms turning several shades darker each moment. It’s not pretty.)
When you’re chubby, you don’t want anyone to discover what you actually look or feel like, but recently my friends uncovered my secret. I have never come closer to homicide. “Look!” they squealed happily, prodding me like a lab rat, “He’s squishy! Feel him! Oh my god, I’ve never seen a body that was so cute and gooshy!” As you can imagine, this did wonders for my ego – I tried, I really tried, but I couldn’t remember the last Hollywood sex symbol who was described as “squishy”. It’s one thing to have everybody standing around feeling your muscles and another to have everybody seeing how deep they can sink their fingers into your stomach. I have no doubt they were sincerely curious, but at the same time I was fervently hoping that a lightning bolt would come along and blow them all off the face of the planet.
I mean, they’re sweet folks, but they just don’t understand the simple pleasures of eating. They think food is for nutrition, and as we all know, food is a multipurpose tool. Food is not just for eating – if you’re lonely, it’s a friend to console you. If you’re bored, food’s a great timekiller. If you need some creative inspiration, a quick meal will usually provide you with some. (So far, this article has been the direct result of a large bowl of Minute Rice, a hot fudge sundae, and roughly fourteen Diet Cokes. Us closet fatties always drink Diet Coke because heck, it tastes like carbonated battery acid but it’s guilt-free.)
My disgustingly skinny friends actually believe in the concept of meals, for chrissake. Meals never struck me as being a particularly rational concept; why should you have to wait around for food? I suppose the concept of waiting around
for a meal to be done properly makes sense to someone who doesn’t get hungry that much, but dammit, I am a pig. I get hungry about every fifteen minutes whether I want food or not, and I’ll eat steak right off the cow if it means I get to chow down sooner. But if I’m hanging around with the Twiggy Troupe, then I have to wait for a good four to five hours before I can skedaddle home and stuff an entire box of HoHos down my throat. This does not make sense to me or my stomach.
And when they do eat – as I said – they don’t eat much. And what’s worse, they eat healthy. They’ll sit there happily eating a bowl of wheat germ, making “mmm mmm” noises the way that only kids in cereal commercials do, and I’ll look on in horror. “Where’s the sugar?!” I’ll scream. “Where’s the cholesterol? How can you eat that stuff?” They don’t understand.
Food should be more than a simple pleasure – food should be as complicated as sex, complete with rampant lusts, unfulfilled longings, daydreams, shameful secrets (the time you ate that entire quart of Haagen Daaz by yourself), perversions (for me, it’s Hershey’s chocolate syrup on pumpkin pie) and, of course, the occasional nervous breakdown. Just sitting there calmly eating the wheat germ like… like it was food or something…. struck me as being terribly, terribly rational.
But anyway. I guess what I’m trying to say is that all men (and women) are not created equal – some of us like to eat more. A whole lot more. And it’s a fact that even though some of us are a little overweight, that doesn’t mean that we’re sideshow freaks or something. Just let us eat in peace – I promise you that we’ll try to keep the noise down as we suck an entire turkey dinner up through our nose. And in return, you guys should have something just a little more substantial than coffee so we don’t feel quite so bad.
There. Now that I’ve convinced you that being overweight is normal, will you guys please stop calling me “Squishy”? Thanks.