Love Handles: Reality TV and Disneyland

10.9.2005

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 Twenty: Sick Day(s)

I've been sick this week. Achy bones and fatigue. I spent a few days at home and finally caught up on some overdue Tivo. I was surprised by how reality TV kept forcing me to look at myself (and I am not just talking about the episode of My Fair Brady where I was wiping cake off Adrianne Curry's breasts).

After four episodes of Breaking Bonaduce, I suddenly felt completely sane and admittedly just an ounce curious about steroids. That was, of course, until I watched Danny ride his motorized skateboard into oncoming traffic. From there, I caught up on this season's The Biggest Loser. I nearly spit out my chicken noodle soup when I saw how much weight each of the contestants lost in their first week. I thought, 'Sure, if I had a trainer and my life was to spend 24/7 in a facility where all I had to do was eat healthy and work out, I too could lose that kind of weight.'

It was then that one of the Loser trainers reminded me, 'It all has to come from within. Until you fix the inside, you can't change the outside.' I went back to my soup after they each were only losing only a couple pounds a week in the following episodes. (Thanks to being sick and not going to the gym, I'm at 247.) After a while, it all became too much and I had to escape from the suddenly too-real reality TV, and switch over to Oprah to watch Sarah Jessica Parker peddle her new perfume.

Since I consider my acupuncturist's work to be miraculous, I kept my appointment hoping she would be able to recharge my worn-out body. As soon as I told her I wasn't feeling well, she said she could tell immediately. 'Your body is full of toxins and we need to get them out of your system.'

I fought back rolling my eyes and telling her about the lemon cleanse, two colonics, and the Bikram yoga. I had to be out of toxins. But I did have some good news to share with her.

'I've had a bit of a breakthrough,' I told her. 'Don't worry, I am still battling my inner child over what I am putting in my mouth. However, I had a moment in this last week where I felt interesting enough to be liked'and I let myself feel it.'

'Oh, I like this,' she said. 'What happened?'

'Well, I made a new friend a few weeks ago'a quasi-celebrity from a reality show. He was having a group of people over for the weekend out at the beach and he had invited my friend and me to come along. My friend was going to be out of town, but I threw caution to the wind and said I would love to go.'

She lit a twig of sage and waved it through the air as I continued.

'Long story short, I went down by myself and had the best time. It had been forever since I had gone anywhere by myself to a situation where I didn't really know anyone. I am used to having a few friends with me at all times, which I think act as a buffer and give me the confidence.'

She took my hands and checked my pulse as I kept on. 'Typically, I would have driven away just relieved that I had survived, or assumed that people liked me because they liked my friends I was with. But this time I actually felt this indescribable warmth inside over the idea that I had engaged him and his friends and received a positive reaction.'

She finally spoke, 'This is your inner child starting to feel safe and worthy. This is good; you have been punishing him long enough. Stick out your tongue.' As she looked down my throat, she said, 'Yes, you are definitely not feeling well. I am going to give you some different herbs this week to help get the toxins out of your system.' I couldn't help but wonder how many toxins Danny Bonaduce must be producing.

While lying on the table with needles in all new locations (I will admit, the ones between my fingers had me a little freaked out), I continued to process the breakthrough I'd had and how it affected my confidence during a recent event.

Last weekend was the 8th annual gay days at Disneyland. A group of my friends really wanted to go and I have always shied away from it. This year, I decided to attend.

There is a silent judgment I put on myself when a gay man enters the room. He becomes a mirror, and I see myself through his eyes. It's no wonder'as I have learned how uncomfortable and borderline hating of myself I have been all of these years'that when the proverbial mirror is held up, I crumble and shut down inside. So the idea of being trapped in the Happiest Place on Earth with thousands of gay men in red T-shirts serving as a disco ball of mirrors reflecting my self-loathing and imperfections did not appeal to me.

But I went. And inside me was still that warmth I felt during the drive home from the beach. That warmth gave me an internal confidence that I hadn't felt in years. I honestly felt like I had lost 100 pounds. I was happy to raise my head as I walked around the park and smiled at other people in red shirts instead of avoiding eye contact and hating myself for all of the nachos and churros I had consumed over the years. I stopped looking at other gay men as 'out of my league' and instead just wrapped myself up in the notion that I belonged. I could almost feel Mr. Blue Bird on my shoulder.

Someone recently sent me one of those silly getting-to-know-you e-mails, and in it she asked me the following question: How close are you to being the man you always wanted to be?

I don't know if I will ever be the man that I have always wanted to be. But I am learning that being who I am is good by me in the meantime.

To read part ninteen, 'Spanking My Inner Child' click here.

To read part eighteen, 'A Cleansing Experience' click here.

To read part seventeen, 'Suggestion Box' click here.

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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