Love Handles: Chapter Five
By Bob Merrick
Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true'although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?
Part Five: Sex, Lies, and the Internet
If someone had told me six months ago that I would be working out regularly, not to mention on a Friday night, I would have told them there was a better chance of George W. announcing his scandalous affair with Dick Cheney after a party at James McGreevey's. After stepping on the scale and realizing I have only lost another three pounds (for a frustrating total of 23 lost in two and a half months, which puts me at 272 pounds), I have become obsessed with my caloric intake. I am working way too diligently to not be seeing greater results. Either that or the rumors are true that once you reach 30, it becomes a lot harder to lose. I'd rather believe the rumor that Lara Flynn Boyle eats.
I decided to take a weekend to myself and dedicate some 'me' time to the cause. I cleared my calendar of commitments and turned off my phone. Already off to a good start with my Friday night workout, I was content at home with my grilled chicken, some steamed broccoli, a dollop of low-fat cottage cheese, and a brand new episode of Reba. As the end credits were rolling, my computer chimed from across my living room where I had an instant message waiting for me.
It was from 'Ryan' (name changed to protect the slutty), a 22-year-old UCLA grad student who had come across an old online personal of mine. He was very complimentary and I thought, What the hell? and engaged in his conversation. After about 45 minutes of chatting, picture swapping, and hormone stimulation, I decided to throw caution to the wind and head to his apartment.
Hooking up with someone on the internet is like that awkward moment at Tower Records when you are buying the new Jesse McCartney CD, a CD you know that everyone is secretly listening to, but no one will admit to it. He was waiting for me outside his apartment, looking exactly like his photos'if you turned out all of the lights in the city, closed your eyes, and added 40 pounds. It's not that he was unattractive, because he wasn't. It was just obvious that it had been awhile since those photos were taken and I hate when people can't just be upfront about the way they look.
I wanted to turn my car around, but I had been on the receiving end of rejection one too many times (besides, I had driven all the way across town at 11:30 at night). He was so excited and nervous to see me that he made me feel like Brad Pitt. I can't remember the last time someone made me feel like Brad Pitt. I think it's been at least since'never!
Ryan's straight roommate was awake and in the living room, which was littered with wine bottles, pizza boxes, and a pyramid of beer cans above the TV'no question, these were college boys. After an awkward introduction to the roommate, Ryan blurted, 'So my bedroom is over this way.' I had a fresh batch of movies from Netflix at home: Why was I doing this? Minutes later when we were naked and sweaty and he was saying, 'You have really nice arms,' I stopped questioning my motives.
I recognized his craving for intimacy; the spooning, the finger touching, and the basking in the post coital glow'things you aren't supposed to want from a one-night stand. So when we finished, I lied and told him I needed to get going because it was late and I had an exercise class in the morning. He blanched. 'Exercise? I'd rather stay home and read a book.'
I wanted so badly to save him from himself, wondering what my life would have been like had I paid attention to my body at 22, the age I learned about fine food and gin martinis while developing an aversion to exercise. I realize these are my issues and not Ryan's and if he is happy with how he looks, that's even better. But I can't help but wonder, if he is happy with his appearance, why would he send such outdated photos from thinner days? I drove home that night starting to believe that I am better than meaningless sex. Dr. Phil would be so proud.
On Saturday I saw The Wedding Date, which I had hoped I could make fun of. But I just ended up swooning over Dermot Mulroney and feeling desperate and lonely. Alas, Richard 'Dickie' Simmons was in Missouri for the weekend so come Sunday I couldn't pay my new guru a visit. Instead, I headed back over to 24 Hour Fitness for an extended workout. Call me crazy, but I'm actually beginning to enjoy the time spent on the elliptical sweating my ass off. When it was over, I decided to pamper myself by booking a massage at Burke Williams spa for that evening. It's a treat I seldom experience, but I had gift certificates from my birthday just begging to be cashed in.
I was used to going to the spa's branch in the Valley, where the body shapes are 'normal.' At the West Hollywood location, it was like being in a Greek bath where you could wash laundry on everyone's stomachs. Typically, I would have felt insecure and ashamed of myself. But something interesting happened that night as I was sitting in the sauna. Maybe it was the compliment from the grad student about my arms. Maybe I was finally able to see where I was headed and refused to lose focus. Or perhaps it was just the heat rushing to my brain and I was moments away from a Mariah Carey meltdown. But as awkward as I felt nude amongst the abs, I felt better knowing that at least I was working on it.
People often misunderstand my intent. I don't seek being in shape so that men will be attracted to me, I seek it so that I can be attracted to me. I know that if Robert Gant told me he was in love with me and desired me as I am, I would still feel too uncomfortable in my skin to allow myself to enjoy it. I may have only lost three pounds in two weeks, but I am feeling healthier and I'll admit, my pants are getting a little bit looser. It's a process'a very slow process, but at least it is working. I'll have to schedule these 'me' weekends a little more often'minus the empty sex. Unless, of course, Robert Gant sends me an instant message.
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