Love Handles: Chapter Seventeen

8.28.2005

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 Seventeen: Suggestion Box

Last Friday after work, Adam and I were going to Laguna Beach for a party that was scheduled to be filled with gays'or as I am learning to call them, dating opportunities. I planned accordingly in the morning and put on one of my favorite pairs of jeans and a button-up shirt and headed to the office.

When I was getting out of my car, one of the dozen empty water bottles littering the back seat of my car fell to the ground. As I reached down to pick it up, I heard a loud ripping sound. I turned around to see if someone was behind me arbitrarily tearing bed sheets, but I was alone with a drafty feeling in my pants. The entire ass of my jeans had torn down the seam. To make matters worse, this was one of the few pairs of jeans that made my ass look good.

I spent the entire morning sitting at my desk and desperately pulling my shirt beneath the rip whenever I had to walk around. At lunchtime I headed over to Marshall's clothing store to buy a new pair of jeans. I was relieved to find myself back in a 38 after the last month and a half of gaining had me squeezing into a 40-inch waist. I'm now at 258 pounds, down six pounds from my last entry.

I was headed to the cash register when this elderly man and a young woman were coming toward me arm in arm. They didn't have a father/daughter vibe, but more of a creepy 'I can't wait until he croaks' aura. As they were passing, the old man said (in what I am sure he thought was his inside voice, but was more like his foghorn voice), 'Wow. That man sure was big, wasn't he?'

My face went hot and prickly and I froze, unaware of what I must've looked like to other shoppers. I really didn't know how to react. I had an Ally McBeal vision of throwing a bowling ball down the aisle and knocking the senior and his Anna Nicole to the ground. All I could think was, There's nothing worse than the truth of children and old people who say it like they see it.

The senior's comment got me thinking about the endless opinions I hear constantly wherever I go. Thanks to months of documenting my battle with the bulge, the topic has become fair game for anyone who strikes up a conversation with me. Most people are supportive: 'Bob, I applaud you for being so honest.' Others want to help: 'If you ever need someone to work out with or keep you motivated, I will be there.' Of course I can never find them when I want someone to go on a hike or take a class with me.

And then there are the people who get on their soap boxes and sound to me like Charlie Brown's teacher: 'Bob, you just need to set aside a half an hour every day, squawk, and go for a long walk. Each day, pick up the pace, squawk, squawk, and carry around a gallon of water and drink it by the end of each day, squawk. It would also help if you just watch your calorie intake and eat healthier foods. SQUAWK!'

Really? Is that what I should do? Why didn't I think of that? I know that people are often just trying to be motivational in their sharing, but I need a drill sergeant, not more education. Everyone has an opinion of the right and wrong ways to diet'and their way is the only way and usually results in sharing too much information. 'Do not do Atkins, it will just make you sick. I did it for three weeks and never had a bowel movement.' It makes me feel like the violated pregnant woman who has strangers constantly walking up and feeling her stomach.

Sure enough, that night at the party, someone came up to me after learning about my column and began sharing his own struggle to lose weight. We had a good laugh over Bikram yoga and the fact that the studio where he practices is also carpeted. But then, as it usually does, the conversation went south as he began to tell me about a 'cleanse' he was in the middle of. 'I am on day four and it is killing me to not have a glass of wine right now. But it is worth it when I sit on the toilet and realize how much crap is coming out of my body. Some pun intended.' Even with the levity, it's not a topic that makes me want to ask, 'Wanna go on a date?'

It isn't that I mind talking so much about the trials and tribulations of being overweight. In fact, it often inspires me to stay on track and try new things, and it often takes the sting out of feeling alone. But even when I want to just watch TV and check out, I am still inundated with it. Last week on Big Brother, April (whom I can't stand) was saying, 'Even though I am so thin, the competition was proof that I need to exercise, because I am out of shape.' While Howie runs around the house bragging about his perfect body.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures on Sunday mornings is Celebrity Fit Club over on VH1. It is a show featuring 'celebrities' like Willie Aames from Charles in Charge, the Snapple lady, and Jackee from 227. I watch them week after week as they are given every single weight loss tool in the book: a trainer, coaches, prepared meals, sampling of different exercise classes, and, my favorite motivator, a public audience. I would be terrified of failing on that show, yet somehow they still manage to do it.

But back to the party. I had a fun night. I felt comfortable in my skin, which is a huge accomplishment for me in a room full of gay men I don't know. As awkward as it was at the time, I did get that guy's e-mail address and have researched his cleanse. His was a bit too harsh for me, but I did stumble upon one that actually sounds interesting to me. So I am starting it this weekend (in case what he says about the toilet is true). I am motivated to find a time when an old man passes me in Marshall's or perhaps even Ross, who simply but loudly says, 'Hey, that man was tall, wasn't he?'

To read part sixteen, 'Turning Up the Heat' click here.

To read part fifteen, 'Surf's Up' click here.

To read part fourteen, 'Grin And Bear It' click here.

To read part thirteen, 'When in Rome' click here.

To read part twelve, 'Moving On Out' click here.

To read part eleven, 'I'm Getting Very Sleepy'' click here.

To read part ten, 'Who's Got the Pain?' click here.

To read part nine, 'Old Habits Die Hard,' click here.

To read part eight, 'Taking A Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool,' click here.

To read part seven, 'A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane,' click here.

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.

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