(Photo: Would you attempt to take food away from this man? Yours Truly experiencing his first Beijing Duck at Sun Wah. Credit: Jamie Williamson.)
American Apparel must feel vindicated right now. Last year, after the depression diet that followed my breakup with Devyn, I was happy to discover two things: St. Johns Wort is like God’s Zoloft without the sexual side-effects; and I was trim enough to shop at the official clothing retailer of America’s heroin chic. Under 200 pounds for the first time since my twenties, it was a thrill to step out of changing rooms wearing clothing marked “medium” and not look like a stuffed grape.
The thrill’s worn off. When I downloaded a weight-tracker application to my iPhone earlier this summer, I was sure I’d see a similar downward spiral. I guess I didn’t take this year’s breakup as tough as last year’s. Damned emotional growth. Imagine my surprise shortly after each morning’s step onto my bathroom scale as I began to track a creeping trend in an upward direction.
Wasn’t I doing the same things this year that I did after last summer’s fated ending? Walking miles across town like a lunatic? Check. Working out every other night? Check. Watching my diet? Well…I didn’t watch it last year. I didn’t need to. It took months to get my appetite back and by then I was too happily wrapped in brightly colored, non-sweatshop produced threads to notice.
What I wouldn’t give for a harrowing parting right now. I wore my pink American Apparel polo on my evening walk through downtown tonight. Trundling through the post-Air & Water Show families on Michigan Avenue, I half expected a small child to take me for a Thanksgiving Parade Pink Panther balloon, tie a string around my waist, and attempt to float me home over his head.
At the very least, my maximizing midriff is proof that this summer has been happier than the last one. And that I have a rotten medium-term memory. I recalled that last summer I did my best Kirstie Alley: eating whatever I wanted and still managing to lose weight. I forgot that, at the time, I just didn’t eat much of anything.
By contrast, the past three months have seen me reveling in happier times. Sure, I’m single again, but I also like myself and my life a lot more now. Now that I actually have a life to speak of, that is. A new consultancy, new bylines, new friends, and a newfound ability to let things go and touch the joy of everyday life have made this a far more lighthearted time for me.
Unfortunately of all the many places I look for joy in everyday life, the business end of a fork, flauta, or falafel tends to be where I start. Gapers Block, you awful enablers, how dare you give such a woefully misguided soul a food beat. Don’t you know how much money I spent on small-running hipster threads last year?
Age could be an easy mark for ascribing blame, too. Recently turning 38, or more than halfway to death as I have taken to thinking about it, my body has developed all sorts of old-man pains in the past few weeks. My right hip, alone, practically squeaks every time I get up out of a chair. And it’s getting harder to claim in online chat rooms that I have black hair when my head shot shows a rather grayer pate.
But I really think it’s my body’s reaction to global warming. It’s not my fault at all; my body just refuses to let go of the weight. It’s wise preparation, I think. Someday, when all those pesky glaciers melt into the sea and the Midwestern farm belt is washed away by floodwaters, as I cling to the side of Marina City, pondering how rather more accurate it’s name will have become, sitting as it will in the middle of new Lake Chicago, I’ll be glad to have a generous layer of fat around my midriff. I’m sure I’ll be thrilled to have something to live off of while I wait for the fields to dry out and food production to resume.
And maybe then I’ll be the one who feels vindicated.