I was really skinny as a kid. Rail skinny. Just a little thing. Tiny. Of course, I took it for granted. I just assumed that this was how you were. You were born a thin little thing and you stayed that way forever. And, you know people that are overweight? Yeah, those people should just work out. How damn hard is it? PUT DOWN THE FORK! That’s their own fault.
“I’d like you to lose twenty pounds,” my doctor said today when I went to get a physical. Blood work. Check and make sure I’m not dying of dying.
“Yeah,” I said and looked down. My gut. It was there like this massive planet that crashed onto the Earth and the people of Earth were gathering around this planet and thinking and making notes and trying to figure out exactly how to get this planet off the planet they live on. This planet, Earth, they wanted it. This other little planetoid, this rogue Pluto, no one wanted that.
“Your mother has high blood pressure,” My doctor said. “Your father does. You’re African American. If I were a betting man, sitting in Las Vegas, I’d bet you’d get high blood pressure, too.”
ALWAYS BET ON BLACK! I wanted to say that. But I didn’t.
“Being overweight and salt,” he said. “That’s what causes high blood pressure. And you’re a little chubby.”
I looked down at the planet.
“Let’s shoot for ten,” he said. “Have you heard of Weight Watchers?”
“I’ve heard of Weight Watchers,” I said.
“It’s not that expensive,” he said. “And it works.
I narrowed my eyes and watched as he wrote up my chart. I looked at his gut, poking out of his fancy white gown. Lose weight, he says.
I went to my favorite coffee shop right after and ordered a coffee with sugar and cream and a plain waffle. Fuck him.
I’m not fat. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is is that, yeah, I could stand to lose twenty pounds. I’m thirty-five. That’s what I’m saying. I’m thirty-five. I sit at a desk for eight hours or more a day. I eat the worst possible food known to man and I spent my twenties drinking any alcoholic beverage that was put in front of me. I actually remember when the planet landed on my belly. I was getting ready for work in 2007 and I tried to button my paints and those things were not buttoning. At all. And then I noticed my shirt barely fit. Wait. What? I’m thin Jarvis Slacks? But the guy in the mirror was this plumb dude with hipster glasses that couldn’t zip his pants up. I guess if I wasn’t perpetually drunk for almost three years, I would have noticed.
And, of course, people give you advice, right?
“Start jogging!” a friend said once. “I’ll jog with you! And we can talk! Talking and jogging! It’ll be fun!”
“All meat,” a guy once told me. “No carbs. NO CARBS!”
“Starve,” a friend said once. “You ain’t going to a gym. Starve. Just don’t eat. It sucks, but you lose weight.
My core problem with any weight lose initiative is that you have to become vain in order for it to work properly. You have to want to look like those photoshopped monsters in magazine ads. The last thing I want to do is rub my fingers over my six pack or have tight pecks. I enjoy looking good. Who doesn’t? And, yes, I guess I should take care of my body, my body being a temple, and I should work hard to let the Jarvis inside out, you know? If I’m awesome on the inside, then I should be awesome out the outside, looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Right?
I’d work out every waking hour if there was a promise that I wouldn’t become worm food. Go to the gym all you want. You’re still going to die.
“What if you stopped drinking coffee and you got the promise that you’d live an extra five years,” my friend Tracy asked me. “Wouldn’t you do it?
“Yeah,” I said. “I stop drinking coffee and then I get hit by a car when I’m biking home. Fool me once!”
“You wouldn’t? It’s five extra years!”
“Quality of life,” I said.
Truth: I enjoy living so much that I don’t want to spend any time making me live more and longer. I want all the food. And I want to sit in my chair and look at Youtube clips. That’s the America I know.
I don’t want to have a heart attack, though.
After my check up, I got on my bike on 19th street, rolled it to the curb, looked ahead and saw that, two blocks away, there were cars coming. 19th street is a one-way street, but if I rode fast and hard enough, I knew I could clear the block before the cars going my way caught me. I hit the peddles and put my head down a bit, lowered the gears and hit it, pushing my legs, making the bike go up that little incline. I got to the end of the block and took a left as cars honked. I looked behind me and then upped my gears, headed towards Adams Morgan, not looking forward to the hill that runs from 18th to 14th street, but the more I was doing it, the less it hurt. I usually was a little winded by the time I got to the top, but I was getting stronger.