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Fat is a relative term, as I’m sure any women realizes. Fat can be when your ‘muffin top’ oozes over your jeans; it can be when you boycott any clothing store with a three-way, ass-detailing mirror; it can be when your significant other doesn’t correctly answer the ‘Does this make me look fat?’ question. It’s all about your personal comfort level.

It seems that Gill, the one always trying to GAIN weight, she of the protruding collar bone, has concluded she is fat. Her Crohn’s has been good this year, so I hardly recognized her non-emaciated self when she arrived home.

“Hi, Ma! I’m fat!” were the first words out of her mouth upon arrival. Only in this house would that be seen as a reason for celebration. In fact, the first thing she did after her arrival was to unload from her suitcase all the clothes that are now too tight and must be given away. Her loss was L’il Sis’s gain…several ‘new’ outfits. Or, I suppose more accurately, her gain was also her sister’s gain.

In an effort to be supportive, I chimed up, “Funny that! I also have been having trouble with pants not fitting. My pants are tight at the waist. I tried on my summer shorts, only to discover they wouldn’t button.”

“Really, Ma? You’re in a rage that your size 2 shorts don’t fit? Cry me a river. People your age shouldn’t be wearing size 2. You’re supposed to have a respectable old age spread…the symbol of a life well lived. And we won’t even mention the fact that you’re past the shorts-wearing age to begin with…”

“But these shorts have been my staple for ten years! What am I supposed to wear to keep cool? Is there an acceptable old-lady fashion choice?”

“Perhaps something in a shroud?” Gill quipped. I failed to see the humour.

The next day I dug out another old pair of shorts and was, once again, distressed to find I couldn’t button them. I shrieked: “Okay, everybody up against the wall…who has been messing with my shorts? Gill, did you put my clothes into the dryer and leave them for too long? They’ve shrunk…”

“Ha! Turnabout is fair play, Ma! Remember all those sweaters and shirts of mine that you shrank? Actually, I wish I could take credit, but I haven’t touched the laundry. I wouldn’t dare since you’re the Head of the Shrinky-Dink Department. I wouldn’t want to go above my pay grade. I guess you’re just packing it on…”

Say what? Me packing it on? Not possible. So I did what every normal woman does: I blamed it on someone else. First, my doctor. He refused  to refill my hormone prescription. I read somewhere that lack of estrogen causes a woman’s middle to thicken. And the second factor was my shrinking height. I now go around spouting the old saw,”I’m not overweight; I’m undertall.” With every inch of height one loses, the fat gets consolidated, again around the middle. I still look great if I hold my arms in the air. But that’s not a good look for shopping trips or going out to lunch. So it seems I am caught up in that inevitable process of aging and am powerless to do much about it. It’s not for lack of trying. I’d stop eating for a while but with Gill here, I can’t. She notices and gets nervous when my birds consume more food than I do.

There is one benefit to this age-fat thing, though. With menopause apparently comes an increase in boob size. I did not see that one coming — until one day, the nice bank teller (female, I hasten to point out…no perverts at MY bank) leaned close and told me in all confidence that the top button on my shirt had popped open and that I might want to adjust myself. Me, the person of the 32 AA beginner bra had finally blossomed into a 34 B and was bursting my chest buttons! A day (or a few decades) late and a dollar short, but there you are.

I moan about my own waistline but am happy to see Gill attain a good weight. In fact, during her visit, I have been doing everything I can to fatten her up. I feed her corn, peach pie, birthday cake, even Tim’s donuts. For most people this would be the one-way, express ticket to obesity. With Gill, one good Crohn’s flareup will fix everything. I  must point out that I am in no way recommending the disease as a weight loss strategy. Quite the contrary, it is a shitty way(forgive the pun) to lose pounds.

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