Love Handles: Chapter Seven


By Bob Merrick 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 Seven: A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane

There are certain conversations you don't expect to have with your sister on the phone on the way to work, especially at 7:30 a.m.

'How did it go on Saturday?' she asked.

I couldn't remember the color of my underwear, and I had only been wearing it for 20 minutes. 'What did I do on Saturday?'

'You know. The thing. Your second appointment.' She was afraid to say the word 'colonic,' as in my second, which I had just had Saturday morning. Since sharing the sordid details with the world about my first, I can't seem to have a conversation with any of my friends or family members that doesn't start with, 'You are so brave. Did it hurt?' My sister in Spokane, Rachel, was no exception. I was too embarrassed to tell her I wished they'd used a bigger hose.

I told her, 'I am over the whole thing. I think I am young and healthy enough to do without any aid in cleansing my colon. It's best to avoid any foreign objects up there without a Trojan logo.' The whole conversation made me regret giving up coffee.

With all of the distracting talk about my ass so early in the day, I was glad to see an e-mail from one of my best gay pals, Adam, when I arrived at my desk about a group date we're planning (more on that later): 'Katie and I are definitely in for next Thursday, so the hunt is on! Can't wait to see who she digs up for me. Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make us a match''

My heart sank as soon as I read it, knowing what was in store and wondering if I was really ready to take the plunge. The last official 'date' I went on was over a year and a half ago. It was the infamous date that kicked me to the ground.

Harp music swells. Cue flashback and mood lighting.

Many moons ago, I had profiles on every possible online dating site. I was convinced that if I were honest in my profile about my weight, someone out there would be attracted to me, just as I am'love handles and all. But the majority of the dates ended in mishap (self-declared romantics looking for a one-night stand; boys who tell you they love you on their first date only to never call again; and my personal favorite, photos so old that horse-drawn carriages litter the backdrop).

'Nick' was a very handsome, 28-year-old, six-foot-four yoga instructor, whose profile seemed too good to be true. We traded a few e-mails and eventually our phone numbers. Our first conversation, we talked on the phone for four hours. I felt like I was in junior high again. We talked with ease about everything from politics to my love of Debbie Gibson. When I brought up my concern that he might not be attracted to my waistline, he was unflustered, claiming, 'I love your integrity and am attracted to someone's mind and not how they look. Besides, I've seen your photo and you can always lose weight, but an ugly heart is harder to change.' I pictured him as the second coming of Gandhi.

After four days of mentally picking out china patterns and floral arrangements for our imminent wedding, I invited him to my house before dinner and a movie. When I opened the door, I could see the disappointment wash over his face as he gave me the once-over. Telling myself it was all in my mind and that he was Gandhi, I decided I needed to stop being insecure and remain positive.

He was handsome enough and kind enough, but he must've had a Cyrano working for him, because this wasn't the guy I talked with deep into the night. After a very short hello, we both grappled for conversation. My cat Sophie seemed to be the only one in the room he felt comfortable with as he couldn't pet her enough, and the topic of yoga seemed to be his only passion, which came with a demonstration of a pose or two as he spoke. When things started to look bleak, I left him in Warrior pose in my living room and headed for the kitchen to open some wine. Maybe we were both just nervous.

While I was trying to decide between a nice cabernet or a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck, he headed to the bathroom. I opened and poured the wine and noticed he still hadn't emerged. I fed Sophie. I did a couple of dishes. Still M.I.A. I started thinking he must really be shy. So I headed back to the living room and waited.

Finally he opened the bathroom door in a panic and I noticed there was no sound of the toilet flushing. As he walked out, he reached into his pocket and grabbed his non-ringing cell phone. 'Hello? Oh, hey. You're kidding? OK, I'll be right there.'

As he grabbed his keys off the coffee table he said, 'My friend just got a flat tire on the freeway in Glendale and I need to go pick him up. I am so sorry to do this, hopefully we can have a rain check for dinner.' In the 11 seconds he was on the phone, his friend was able to convey a tremendous amount of specific details. I sat there with my wine in disbelief of my 'Marcia Brady gets dumped by Doug Simpson' moment because 'something suddenly came up.' I muttered a quick 'sure' and walked him out the door.

He went out of his way to say goodbye to Sophie and we barely made eye contact as he ran out the door, causing all insecurities about my physical appearance to come to a boil. After I shut the door, I ran into the bathroom where not only had the toilet not been flushed, it hadn't been used. It still had the Ajax soaking in it that I had forgotten to take care of before he arrived. I imagined he had been stuck in there trying to find someone to call him and announce, 'Something bad has happened,' and when he couldn't reach anyone, he just faked it. Badly.

Harp music swells. Cue flashforward to the present.

I was so devastated by that experience that I swore off dating. Looking back on it, that is right around the time I completely stopped caring about the shape my body took. Because without dating, what did it matter? But lately I am feeling a little more confident with who I am, which was the reason for Adam's e-mail.

Last night I was at dinner with Adam and his roommate, Katie. The conversation started with me proclaiming how much better I was feeling without my bathroom scale. My life has become a bit more boring as the gym is eating into my social life and delicious meals seem to have been replaced with filling salads. But I'm actually looking forward to having my fat tested in two more weeks and sharing that number here, since I feel I am making progress. It's fueling me to do better than when the scale was telling me I was going nowhere. Then, somehow, the discussion quickly turned to the dreaded topic of dating. Having Adam and Katie both in search of their lifelong 'plus-ones' was comforting as we each declared our worthiness and our irritation with being single. It didn't take long for us to hatch a plan to take charge of our singledom.

Next Thursday, the three of us are setting each other up on a date. Adam will be finding someone for me that he feels fits my criteria'tall, interesting, and interested. I'm responsible for finding a man for my red-headed singing friend Katie, who fortunately has the same taste in men as I. And Katie will be cruising the aisles of Trader Joe's to find a man for Adam.

We aren't necessarily looking to meet the love of our lives with only 11 days' notice (although it sure would cut down on a lot of therapy), but we are forcing ourselves to step outside our comfort zones and participate in a dating exercise. Dating is something that isn't even on my back-burner, it's been completely taken off the stove.

To be honest, I am completely terrified, but a little excited. I am looking at this date next week as a baby step, since that is what this project is all about. Baby steps to losing weight, baby steps to feeling better about myself, and baby steps to getting back into the ever-alluring and hazardous dating pool. I just hope Adam steers clear of yoga instructors and we go someplace that doesn't have a bathroom.

To read part six, 'Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures,' click here.

To read part five, 'Sex, Lies, and the Internet,' click here.

To read part four, 'Sweatin' with an Oldie' But Goodie,' click here.

To read part three, 'What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas,' click here.

To read part two, 'Let's Get Physical,' click here.

To read part one, 'Resolutions and Commitment,' click here.