Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Big Brown Bathing Suit

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The big brown bathing suit vs. the little black dress. The all-you-can-eat Golden Corral vs. the elegant plate of sushi. The overweight children in floppy tops vs. the tween girls in sequins and Japanese straight hair. The Marine tattoos vs. the Prada eyeglasses.
One week in South Carolina vs. one afternoon at a Bar Mitzvah in New York.
Ah, but the palm trees!
The woman at the hotel water park was definitely no older than 30, but 300 pounds, I swear. The enormous bathing suit, chocolate brown, had that skirt thing attached, and inexplicably, a kind of gauzy overlay that drew attention to her massive bosom. Her gigantic and cellulite riddled thighs did not look disconnected from each other. When she walked, the friction between them caused a shaking that rippled over her entire body. She had a modern haircut and a relatively pretty face which was not distended the way some obese people’s are. Her son was young and thin. They were smiling and playing ping-pong.
I tried not to look when she bent over to get the ball.
Maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s everyone, but isn’t the thing you can’t stand most about yourself the thing you judge other people most with?
People in South Carolina are fat. Really, really fat, in a way that people in New York aren’t. When I worked in advertising and was sent to Tennessee, I now remember, I thought the women there were fat too—in a way I never saw, even in those Queens shuls that hosted the Weight Watchers meetings.
It’s a beyond fat, a gross distention of human proportions fat, a sick-smelling white feral fat. A I can’t really do anything or be taken seriously as a professional kind of fat.
A fat that makes sex horrifying and presentability problematic, to say the least.
And no way could she fit into any of those plastic armchairs.
I am on that continuum, somewhere between her and (hopefully closer to) the hot MILFs who were dancing to Sandstorm this afternoon at the Bar Mitzvah, trying to be closer and closer every day. And I want to say for the record that those very same dancing women are also women of accomplishment and education, who do not make a life tsittering over themselves but have managed to work control into their eating-- and only two of them are French.
I must also ruefully admit that no one else looked askance at that South Carolina lady in the big brown bathing suit, and that she seemed happy and well-loved enough.
Just as we were about to leave the water park, I noticed something on the floor—a driver’s license. I picked it up and had a bit of a shudder.
Did you know that in South Carolina you list eye color, height—AND WEIGHT?
I looked. 145.
Thank God it wasn’t her.
I found the owner soon enough and took one last goggle at big brown bathing suit.
I sure do feel thin in South Carolina.
But I don’t live there.

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