So I’m standing in line in the crowded Hudson News store near the D Gates at Las Vegas’s McCarren Airport. Half turned to a display on my right, I see a large man heading toward the door out of the corner of my eye. He has to squeeze between the line of people waiting to check out and the large soft drink cooler and food displays to the left.
I hear him growl, “Move your fat ass,” as he stomps out of the shop.
I freeze for a few seconds, not quite believing I heard what he said, then turn to the woman standing behind me. She’s just staring at me, wide-eyed. I quietly ask, “Did he just say what I think he said?”
She replies, “He said something that wasn’t nice – and to what end?”
“Huh. Wow. I wish I’d gotten a better look at him.”
End of conversation. But obviously, not the end of me thinking about what had happened. In the first place, that kind of random nastiness is just bizarre. How unpleasant and unhappy must a person be to speak that way to a complete stranger, without provocation? My first thought, is – what a creep! And my second thought is that I pity his family. Chances are he is insulting and mean to others on a regular basis if he was inclined to let loose like that spontaneously, and in a public place.
What is kind of interesting to me, though, is that I wasn’t actually especially insulted by the slur. Anyone who heard it was unquestionably more shocked by his cruelty and poor manners than by my physical appearance. When it comes to my physical appearance, it’s no revelation that not only do I have a fat ass, but also that every other body part is noticeably fat. I have a rather thin nose and actually wish my lips were fatter. Other than that – yup. Fat ass, fat stomach, fat ankles, fat neck – fat everything.
But I’m not Guinness World Book of Records fat. If you are reading this and don’t know me, I will tell you I don’t need a seat belt extender on a flight, but I do shop in the Plus Size departments for my clothes. I am short and round and will make a comfy grandmother whenever my son gets down to business and finds a wife, starts a family. I’d like to be at a healthier weight, but I will never be thin.
Having reached a point in my life where I’m not as self-critical and am pretty much resigned to being larger rather than smaller – the insult at the shop just seems so unimaginative. Fat ass? No shit, Sherlock.
But anyway, I was thinking about how I would have been devastated by that comment ten years ago when I was about 70 lbs. lighter and trying so hard to be as attractive as I could be. I was still hoping for true love – to get married again and, well, maybe even live happily ever after – more or less.
The fact is, even 70 or 80 lbs. lighter than I am today – I still had a FAT ASS. Yes! I’ve been on and off diets most of my life, beginning with using my mother’s diet pills at age 14 – and I have always been pear-shaped. At my thinnest, I wore a size six blouse – and 10 or 12 slacks that were loose around the waist and snug on the caboose.
If that Neanderthal had snarled at my fat ass in 1991, I really would have been crushed. Oh, I would have intellectually known he was a Neanderthal, of course, but deep inside I would have felt that no matter how much weight I lost or how pretty I was or anything else – I was doomed to being a Fat Ass forever.
Toward the end of my first go-round with Jenny Craig in Dallas in the late ’80s, I weighed in one Saturday and had reached my lowest weight since the age of 19. Instead of being delighted and motivated to continue, I went home and looked in the mirror and realized that even if I lost the last 10 lbs. to reach my goal weight – I would still have a FAT ASS! Relatively speaking, anyway. And big thighs, thick ankles and knees, etc., etc.
I basically said, fuck it – and never went back to Jenny.
So. The relativity of fat? As I waddle into late middle age (and I’d have to live to about 120 for this to be the “middle”) it just strikes me as somewhat amusing that being called a Fat Ass when really, being a Fat Ass is almost the least of it, is not nearly as bad as being called a Fat Ass when that ass is your Achilles Heel.
I remember walking down a street in DC during one of my thinnest periods. I was packed into a pair of black jeans that I liked to wear with a skinny red belt and I was feeling pretty good. A car with a couple black guys slowed down to call out their appreciation of the view and it’s not until today – and thanks to Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé , and other well-endowed beauties – that I realize I should have given that bootie a shake then, and any other time I was feeling sassy.
Fat Ass? You betcha. It might be a somewhat saggier fat ass nowadays, but you should have seen it in the day.