Love Handles: The Final Installment!

1.15.2006

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-four: Coming Full Circle!

On a man-hunting expedition in 1994, my friend Eric Shane and I were coming out of a gay club in San Jose called Club St. John when we ran into a friend of his from San Francisco State. Eric was excited to introduce me: 'This is my friend Fabrice I was telling you about who reads palms.'

I don't even think I told him my name before my arm struck a 'talk to the hand' pose and I barked, 'When am I going to get a boyfriend!?'

When I came out, just one year earlier, I was absolutely boy crazy. I was convinced that all I had to do was say 'I'm gay' and then I would be handed a catalogue to choose my boyfriend from. I was very naive in my early 20s.

He took my hand in his, and under the streetlamp light he began my reading. 'You have a very strong lifeline. You've had a lot of chaos and conflict in your childhood, but you are entering a phase in your life where things are going to start going a lot smoother.'

I wanted to scream, 'Thanks for the history lesson, now can we get on to my future?' I didn't learn patience until my later 20s.

He continued, 'I have good news and bad news. You don't have very many relationship lines, but the good news is you have one really solid one. This means that when you meet him, he really is going to be 'the one,' which is very rare to find. The bad news is it looks like it doesn't happen until later in life, like your late 20s or early 30s, when you are ready.'

I snapped my hand back from his and rudely responded, 'That was the stupidest reading ever.' Apparently, I didn't learn grace until my later 20s either. I stormed off to the car, determined once more to locate that magical catalogue and find someone to date, if for no other reason than to prove Fabrice the Palm Reader wrong. Being 20 years old, hormonally driven, and thinking 30 was ancient, he may as well have told me that my future boyfriend would be picking me up in a spaceship.

I hadn't thought about Fabrice and that experience in quite a while until I a post New Year's conversation I had with my Aunt Heidi. While on the phone with her, I caught myself mid sentence saying something unusual. 'I'm going to be bringing a boyfriend home soon.'

'Does that mean you have met someone?' she asked.

'Well, there is a boy I have my eye on, but I am not ready to jinx it by talking about him. Let's call him '2006 Potential Boy.' Suffice to say, we have our third date this weekend and he is a very good kisser. But regardless, I've never been more sure that one is just around the corner.'

'While you are gazing into your crystal ball, do you think you could pull me out some lottery numbers? I could use a tropical vacation!'

One year ago, I set out with one goal in mind: to have my mind and heart in a space where, with or without a boyfriend on New Year's Eve, I would want to kiss me. My own expectation was that it would require a major physical transformation because when I looked in the mirror, the person looking at me was filled with disgust. Usually, I was so put off, I would spend just enough time in the mirror to fix my hair and check my teeth.

Last year on New Year's Eve, I was at a party in the Hollywood Hills. I was so uncomfortable in my skin that even though I was with my friends who love me, I felt alone and undesirable. When the clock struck midnight and I realized I had no one to kiss, I panicked. I wished I were at home fast asleep, with my overweight cat by my side. Instead, at the final second, my friend Wendy saved the day with a kiss. As much as I love her, it felt like a reprieve, a kiss to make me feel like I belonged, not a kiss that told me I was loved and desired.

I was so certain that if I could lose 90 pounds, I would look at myself in the mirror and smile. On Valentine's Day 2005, I was working out with Richard Simmons where he had us write Valentines to ourselves. Mine read:

'I promise to love myself as I deserve to be loved by someone else.'

In an attempt to make my journey entertaining and readable, I was challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone and try new and different exercises'some that I enjoyed (Pilates and Slimmons) and some that make my muscles tense up when I even mention their names (Krav Maga and Hip Hop). I explored them so I wouldn't be writing about the hours I was logging on the treadmill at 24-Hour Fitness. You can only write about looking like an over-ripe tomato in a sausage skin so many times before you bore even yourself.

It wasn't until the end, in these last couple of months, when I started digging into the nitty gritty of my feelings, that I could finally take stock of who I am becoming and how I am getting there. We are all so fear-driven as we live our daily lives'fear of being uncool, unliked, or uninteresting'that we start overcompensating for our insecurities with name brands, name dropping, and any other distraction we can think of to keep people from looking at who we really are.

For New Year's Eve this year, I went to Vegas with about 18 of my closest friends, including my little sister and her new boyfriend as well as the lad who would become known as 2006 Potential Boy. One of my best friends was hosting a party, and I was tucked away into a VIP area behind a velvet rope with all of the glamour of a superstar. But unlike the last January when I was in Vegas feeling like a fish out of water, this time I felt like I belonged. I don't have any more money in my bank account, no additional fame that says I should be treated like a celebrity, but instead I finally allowed myself to believe that I belonged there because I was a good person who deserves to be loved as much as I love everyone around me.

When the countdown started, my friends all began pairing up and going crazy. I was so busy laughing at something someone said, that I didn't even have a chance to react when 2006 Potential Boy put his arm around me and started counting down. When the clock struck 12, he kissed me. It made my toes curl. As soon as it was over, I became a kissing bandit as the room was exploding in love and I couldn't give and receive it quickly enough. There was nothing desperate about me this go round.

When it was over, I headed to the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled. For me, it wasn't about the weight loss (although I am happy to have lost 55 pounds and counting), and it wasn't about finding a boyfriend. I realize now, those items would have been the cherry on top. I'm still a work in progress, but I have never been more excited to see what the new year has in store for me. Maybe this will be the year Fabrice was referring to as I inch my way closer to being 'ready.' Staring at myself, I recognized that as of that night, I was a person that I would want to kiss, and I couldn't ask for a better way to start off 2006.

To read part twenty-three, 'Talking Back' click here.

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.

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