11 May 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

Teresa informs me that in my 1995 diary entry about the fleas that fled Oakland, I spelled ‘fleas’ wrong.

That does it. I’m through with spelling.


 My mom doesn’t think I should write about fat. That’s insane. It’s the only thing I write about that’s of universal interest. To paraphrase Trollope, “Everyone is fat, has been fat, or expects to be fat—or else rejects fat with an eagerness which still perpetuates the interest.”[1] 

And my god, it’s better than writing about whom. Of course it’s a bit tacky, but that’s what I like about it.  And “chub chub chub” is the best thing I’ve written in weeks. Teresa and I are still repeating it to each other.

I want to write a book called An Autobiography of My Butt. And then I would finally be famous. But that sounds like a lot of work, and anyway I think Anna Schott should write that book. It would be so good. I’m jealous in advance.

So—My Fat. Wherever I go, there it is. Chub.

Face-to-face, I would never admit to being on a diet. It seems so trashy, and you get into these, “Oh, but you’re not fat, I’m so fat” discussions that are just awkward. So at work when offered cookies and candy, I accept it and then sneak it into the trash. I know better than to throw it away in my own trash. I throw it away in the bathroom trash, crumbling the cookies and unwrapping the candy just to make sure. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t eat of out the bathroom trash at work. But I would think about it, and it would be distracting. If I’ve made it impossible, then I don’t have to think about it. Unless of course it’s the kind of candy that you can just rinse off. And I have absolutely no problem eating out of the trash in my office. There’s nothing in there but tea bags and Post-its. It’s a hell of a lot cleaner than my fridge.

So, to briefly state (times!) the chief points of my butt’s life: it was born fat, grew up fat, grew less fat, and unless some miracle intervenes, will die fat. I actually don’t mind having big butt. That’s nature, and it looks all right in clothes. But back fat I do object to. (Times!)

I guess, since this is a diary of record, I should say that I am at this moment a Healthy Weight. My doctor has no problem with me. In fact he told me that as a thin white woman I’m at risk for…I hardly heard the rest of what he said because I was thinking, thin white woman—at last! But I used to be fat, and I’m fat in my heart, and I consider myself to be militantly on the side of the fatties. All this may be a bit undermined by the fact that I’m passing.

I have never in my life looked at a scale without some mixture of dread and hope. One day at Enzo’s soccer practice at the Y, a woman weighed and measured all the kids and then counted how many push-ups they could do and how far they could stretch. And I remembered my childhood dread of the scale and girls at slumber parties weighing and comparing. Childhood is barbaric, that’s all. It may have become less barbaric, but I doubt it.

(One way it has improved is that small, smart boys are no longer bullied, at least at Enzo’s school. One of Enzo’s best friends is very small and extremely smart, and he’s as much in the mix as anybody else. He definitely has the upper hand in his friendship with Enzo. Still, I’m a tiny bit relieved that Enzo’s mid-size. And my god he can do ten perfect push-ups from the toes and a couple of pull-ups. He’s like a super hero. And he’s thin as a whip, thank all the stars in the heavens.)

But back to fat. Is there anything more infuriating than a naturally thin person who attaches all this moral virtue to thinness—who secretly thinks fat people simply lack moral fiber? Fat probably has something to do with will power, but will power is just the name we’ve come up with for a particular brain chemistry that just isn’t interested.

Still, how do you explain why the DA’s are so thin and the public defenders are so fat? It seems that the public defenders are more sympathetic to people who give in to their impulses because that’s what they do. The DA’s are in perfect control of themselves, and they don’t have much sympathy for those who aren’t. And I’m telling you those prosecutors are some skinny motherfuckers. That office must be a dark pit of eating disorders. The public defenders, well, chub chub chub. And they’re so much more fun to talk to.

I became less fat when I was in my early twenties. How did I do it? By being hungry and miserable. How do I keep it off? See above.

Well, there’s more to it than that. When I start to gain weight (as has occurred recently) I cut out sugar and starch for as long as I can stand it, by which time I can usually fit into the black dress that I bought on the day I got my bar results. During these lock-down periods, the only thing I desperately miss is red wine. Am I an alcoholic? I could definitely become one. But fat seems a more pressing issue.

Well, I see I’ve descended into dieting tips. Best stop.

[1] “In one respect the necessity of dealing with love is advantageous,—advantageous from the very circumstance which has made love necessary to all novelists. It is necessary because the passion is one which interests or has interested all. Everyone feels it, has felt it, or expects to feel it—or else rejects it with an eagerness which still perpetuates the interest.”  (Anthony Trollope [that adorable man] An Autobiography, Oxford World Classics [the little blue ones] 192.)