Love Handles: Talking Back!


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 Twenty-three: Talking Back!

I recently saw the new movie Rent. As the lights came up, I sat in my chair sobbing. I had never seen the stage version and was blown away at what I had just seen on the screen. Such a pure vision of what it means to love unabashedly and unconditionally. A reminder that life is not about how much money you make, the kind of car you drive, or how many rooms are in your home, but your capacity to give and receive love.

After the screening, a nice gentleman named Mark came up to me and introduced himself. He recognized me from my column and effusively thanked me for writing it, even wishing I wrote it more often. There is no greater feeling than sharing yourself and having people respond positively. The antithesis of that feeling is when you share yourself and someone tears you down.

The following morning, I logged onto to find the below comment from someone named Jason in response to my last column (where I went on a date that went well, only to have the guy disappear after having sex with his coworker).

Please stop whining. Take a good look at yourself. You're fat and you're gay'those two just don't go together. Enough about self-esteem etc'lose the weight and you'll get guys like Jeff. Why? Because that's the way it is. AND your dressing is not exactly wonderful'do something about that. It's been a year and you're still packing so much weight. Too many excuses and too much food. Instead of complaining about the guys you want, make yourself into the guy they would want. I read your essays all the time but they're just filled with self-pity disguised as humor. It's wearing thin. The way you should be by now.'

Madonna once said in an interview that there could be 100 people in a room and 99 of them can love what you have done, but the one who hated it is the one you will always remember. At first, after reading it, I just felt hurt (as I am prone to do) and contemplated eating myself into a coma. Instead, I gave the comments another read.

Whining? Whining would be me wallowing in a delusion that I am wonderful and questioning why Jeff wouldn't want to choose me. Whining would be sitting at home eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's and complaining about being fat. There's a difference between whining and sharing my stories.

What I want to understand is why Jeff is off the hook for how he treated me. Yes, he had a great-looking face and beautiful eyes, but he was height and weight proportionate, not sculpted from steel. It wasn't about him not liking me, it was about him saying one thing and doing another. Fat or even a bad dresser, I deserve the respect of a call or e-mail saying 'Sorry, we're just not a match' instead of silence that clouds my mind with voices causing me to believe everything is wrong with me. I can tell you right now: Absolutely nothing is wrong with me. I don't care if I never lose another pound or I have to wear a gunnysack to the office, no one has the right to make me feel less than.

If you read any of my personal ads, they are me. I don't hide behind fuzzy, cropped photos or images from 1995. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say who I am, girth and all. He knew what he was getting into before I walked into that Starbucks, and he didn't flinch when I did. He sought me out online and was the one who asked me to the follow-up dinner.

Nevertheless, why am I supposed to take the hit for being fat and a bad dresser while he gets to disappear in Cyberland and not have the decency to return a phone call or e-mail to say he isn't interested. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo have a best-selling book called He's Just Not That Into You. I'm aware of the signs, but if this guy is so great, shouldn't he be man enough to tell me to my face?

Jason also tells me that being gay and fat don't mix. I get that there is a truth in that, but it's said almost with a sense of smugness. As if to just say 'That's just how it is, so if you are fat, you may as well kill yourself or go back to dating women because you aren't welcome to play our reindeer games.' It's this kind of attitude that causes many of us to eat and fill our insecurities until we lose all control of who we are. How about instead of writing someone off just because they are fat, you take the time to get to know them? Remember, weight can be lost, but an ugly attitude can't.

Believe me, I did have a vision last January that my weight loss would turn out like the montage in Ruthless People. Bette Midler gets on a broken bicycle in the basement where she's being held hostage and by the end of a Mick Jagger song, she is transformed into a size 2. But alas, a fantasy is exactly all that is. Yes, I could have been more diligent this year and taken off more of my weight, but a thin version of last year's self wouldn't be any more confident or put-together than I am today. And, Jason, you might be tired of hearing about my newfound self-respect, but I have done way too much digging to find it this year to not shine light on it.

At 240 pounds, I am on par with Kirstie Alley's current 55-pound weight loss and she had a two-month head start. She's being praised all over town for her accomplishment and even got to go on Oprah and dance about it. But in Gayville, I am still fat and told that I am unwanted. Imagine what that does to my psyche.

When I returned from Italy over the summer, I had a comment from a Glennbe, who called me a 'narcissist and insecure' in the same sentence. It's a column about my journey, so of course it is going to be about me. It is not as though it's a column about shoes into which I somehow weave a story about how good they look on my feet. And insecure? You have no idea. If I didn't have these insecurities, there wouldn't be much of a journey through self-discovery to go through, would there? But isn't an insecure narcissist an oxymoron? Either way, I want to embrace all parts of me, the self-involved and the insecure, so that at the end of the day, I am not hiding behind either. I view myself as an interesting person who is flawed. We should all be so lucky to embrace ourselves this way.

Nevertheless, on the flipside of those ready to judge and critique are the compliments that have filled my inbox. Kelly, who has thanked me for inspiring him to lose 45 pounds in spite of a job that kept him traveling all year because he was able to log on and remember he's not alone. Bill, who thanked me for sharing my stories so he could share them with his boyfriend who was feeling hopeless and alone after putting on all of his post-honeymoon weight.

Then there is a 23-year-old named Adam (not my surfing partner) who contacted me through my Web site and asked, 'Why is it that you can give someone a compliment and yet they can't even say thank you? I understand if they don't think I'm cute or anything, I'm not going to get hurt if they don't want me, but they can at least say THANK YOU!' I read his blogs and his self-esteem is so sadly low, all based on men rejecting him. It saddens me to think his journey will be rooted in rejection and often without the courtesy of 'I'm just not that into you.'

I want to express my thanks to everyone who has witnessed my progress, my setbacks, and my adventures of the last year. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has taken the time to read and respond, even the Jasons and Glennbes who told me things I didn't want to hear, but needed to hear, even if sometimes it was just to measure how far I've come along. This is the most appropriate time of year to take stock in your own accomplishments and your value as a person. As the soundtrack from Rent asks, 'How do you measure a year?'

To read part twenty-two, 'Why Men Suck' click here.

To read part twenty-one, 'My One Week Relationship' click here.

To read part twenty, 'Sick Day(s)' click here.

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.