I wish my new neighbor had not gone to New York two days ago, and I wish I had not fed her cat. The cat is a 16 year-old one-eyed orange male tabby, and I seduced him with catnip, but that’s not the point of this rant.
I wish that F had not gone to New York, and I had not been alone in her house, and the cat had not puked, and I had not picked up the puke with toilet paper and gone into her bathroom to flush the puke down the toilet. There was a scale beside the toilet, a small modern unobtrusive thing, lit up when you stepped on it. I stepped on it. What could be the harm, I thought. No one will see, it will only take 3 seconds, it won’t use much battery power. I forgot to consider my reaction.
I have gained weight. Since retiring in 2006, I have gained the entire weight of my great big fat cat, Ben, plus maybe a few more pounds (I’m not sure what Ben weighs). I have gained TWO Sophies (Sophie is a normal-sized cat). My BMI is 24.9, and If I gain ONE MORE POUND, I will be OVERweight.
This does not fit the self-image I’ve developed and solidified over 55 or more years (I’m 67, but wasn’t aware of my weight until maybe age 12 or 13). I knew that my grandparents and all the aunts and uncles on my father’s side thought I was too skinny (they were all quite “robust” – FAT). I knew I was skinnier than most of the other girls, but didn’t realize how much skinner until they weighed us in gym in 7th grade. It was fashionable where I lived in the late 50s and early 60s to be “pleasingly plump,” not SKINNY. Not still wanting to crack 100 pounds in 9th grade.
It was what they call an uphill battle, but I was game. In my earliest memories, I ate mayonnaise with a spoon from the jar, and butter in chunks like cheese. I finished a 16 ounce steak at the age of 5 (it was grilled over charcoal, that’s why).
I worked very hard through junior high and high school to gain weight. I had a friend, Gayle, who was even skinnier than I was and we did it together. Gayle read that malted milk was the most fattening thing in the world, so we stopped at the drugstore after school every day and had either milkshake or a banana split (malted milk wasn’t on the menu). We often had Creamsicles on our way to the drugstore. We spent all of our spare time eating. we spread out potato chips, pretzels and corn chips, butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, and strawberry preserves; and we at each and every one of those things with each and all of the others. It was a tough job but we were hard workers, and we were in the “accelerated” class, so we knew what to do. I think it may have taught us something about probability theory, or logarithmic progression.
My skinny mother and father tried to help. (My mother was 5’4″ and weighed at her fattest 118; my father was 6′ and weighed 140.) When we had pork chops, the three of us had twelve pork chops among us. When my mother made soup or stuffed cabbage, she made them in a lobster pot, and the leftovers were kept warm at the back of the stove until bedtime, always available. There were always at least 5 kinds of ice cream in the freezer. I ate a full dinner, and had scrambled eggs as a snack a few hours later, and then ice cream and potato chips an hour after that. When I stayed overnight at friends’ houses and had what they had for dinner, I had to approach them later and ask for more food.
By senior year in high school, I was 5’4″ and weighed about 110; Gayle was 5’6″ and weighed about 100 I gained more weight in college, where not having 24 hour access to all I could eat forced me to eat as much as I could whenever I could. Two burgers in the snack bar after dinner, or two orders of scrambled eggs, spaced an hour or so apart so I could get my appetite back. In college, we also had a great chef and everyone else was on a diet, so I ate their portions too. One Friday evening in the fall of my freshman year, my boyfriend Frank was coming over from his college in Lancaster and it would be the first time I’d seen him since starting at Wilson. The chef made creampuffs for dessert; I ate all the creampuffs from my table for eight, and picked up about two dozen more untouched creampuffs from the other tables on my way out of the dining room. I thought they would be a great snack for Frank when he arrived, but he didn’t arrive until a couple of hours after dinner, and I’d eaten all of those creampuffs by the time he got there. I don’t remember whether I told him about the creampuffs.
I weighed about 118 by the end of college. That was still a few pounds under the “normal” weight for my height (according to tables that were later replaced), but it was progress. The world can change on a dime, and by 1968 everybody wanted to be skinny. but I kept eating and got to 120 pounds and stayed that way for a good ten years, when I met Ali, who only weighed 130 pounds and, through nothing he ever did, made me feel like a cow. I decided “we” should take up running, and we bought the shoes, and Ali ran. I didn’t; it was boring. I didn’t go on a diet, but I contrived to put maximum effort into the normal things I did, like walking, and got down to 112 pounds.
Twenty-four years pass. and in 2004 I weighed 125 pounds before chemo, 120 by the end. 120 pounds (BMI 20.6) felt about right. This, today, is not right. I weigh as much as my father did, and he was 8 inches taller.
If you don’t know me very well, you may think this post is leading up to some kind of a plan. It is not. I’m just complaining. Maybe this unwanted knowledge will lead to something good, but right now I’m headed for a pint of Brown Cow Cream Top Maple Yogurt.