1.03.2009

A world too small for such a man

My mantra for middle age: Every day, in every way, I am getting fatter and fatter.

I diet (sort of). I exercise (a lot). Every day, I step onto the bathroom scales and groan.

I am not what doctors call "morbidly obese." More like pathetically obese. It's just sad the way fat accumulates on the body of a middle-aged man who gave up smoking a few years ago and took up Oreos instead.

One look in the mirror raises a number of questions: When did my hips become wider than my shoulders? When did my waist measurement leave my inseam in the dust? Where did my belt go? Oh, there it is, hiding under my paunch. Sneaky devil.

I know I'm not alone. News reports regularly scream that America's the fattest country on earth, that we're killing ourselves with our own mouths. We're all so concerned about obesity and health, we can find solace only in another snack.

"Middle age" apparently refers to body location rather than simple chronology. You pass 40, and your middle shows its age by ballooning up as it never has before. This so-called "spread" is the curse of adulthood.

("Middle-Age Spread" sounds like a ranch, one that extends from Armpit Valley to Bad Knee Junction, passing the mustard-stained slopes of Mount Belly and Lardbutt Heights along the way. Yee-haw. Git along, lil hoagies!)

I was already a large man before I became a large, pear-shaped man. I'm six-foot-five, and rarely a day goes by that I don't hit my head on something, which may explain my many mental "issues."

Because of my height, I already bought my clothes at "Big-and-Tall" shops. I used to shop in the "Tall" section. Now, in middle age, I need the "Big" part, too.

With this widening has come more frequent painful encounters with the door jambs and sharp edges of my everyday world. A few years ago, I only worried about hitting my head. Now, I worry about snagging a hip on a cabinet corner. I tuck my elbows against my sides when I go through doors. I'm usually sporting a bruise somewhere.

The world isn't designed for the big and tall. Countertops and light switches and sinks always are the wrong height. Beds are too short. Doorways are too narrow. Bucket seats? Don't make me laugh.

Worst, of course, are airplanes, which are designed by elfin workers at Boeing who get their revenge on the world by torturing us big guys. (You might not know this, but "Economy" comes from the Latin words for "pinch my fat with your armrest.")

Recently, I rode in one of those small, turboprop planes formally known as "puddle-jumpers," and was forced by dire need to squeeze my very large self into its very small bathroom.

I got in there all right, facing the correct direction, etc., but when it came time to emerge, I had a problem. I was wedged so tightly, I couldn't move my arms. Which meant I couldn’t release the door latch. Which raised the very real possibility that I would remain in that fiberglass coffin until someone got me out with a blowtorch. By exhaling and pivoting just right, I managed to get free, but there were a few panicky seconds when a headline flashed before my eyes:

Middle-Aged Fatty Trapped in Airplane Loo

God, the humiliation. Only one way to beat that rap -- blame someone else. So I pictured this headline instead:

Trapped Fatty Sues Airline; Nabisco Named as Co-Defendant

Ah, that's better. Let's eat!

3 comments:

Hal Johnson said...

I'm with ya, brother. Too much, in fact.

Anonymous said...

An early entry into the graph-of-the-year awards:

("Middle-Age Spread" sounds like a ranch, one that extends from Armpit Valley to Bad Knee Junction, passing the mustard-stained slopes of Mount Belly and Lardbutt Heights along the way. Yee-haw. Git along, lil hoagies!)

-Jas

Philbert said...

Jeez, can I relate.
Get out of my head, man! Get out of my head! You're freakin' me out!
Oh, sorry. I guess you have trouble getting out of a head.