When Charles and I were married 25 years ago, he weighed 300 pounds. He now weighs 205. My burly bear has morphed into a buff Adonis. And I hate it.
Just the other week we were at a party when a friend greeted us with, “Hi, Laura,” and then, “Charles, wow, you look amazing. How’d you lose so much weight?”
While my once fettucine alfredo loving husband proselytized about “portion control” and “barbell squats,” I slinked off to find a drink. Waiting for my sauvignon blanc, I flashed back to the time Charles and I ravished a giant éclair on our way to buy a treadmill.
In the parking lot of “Bodies R Us” (or something similar sounding), we finished the entire 12-inch custard-filled pastry. Inside, still licking fudge off our fingers, a Hulk Hogan look-alike approached, eyed us up and down, and asked, “So, what are your goals for a treadmill?”
I replied, “Do you have a napkin I can use to wipe my hands?” which sent Charles and me into hysterics.
Charles and I met on a blind date. He was 6-foot-1, with big blue eyes, salt-and-pepper hair and an easy laugh. More importantly, he was fat — fatter than me. I was still stitching my ego together from a recent divorce; and, at a size 20, I wanted a man whose girth would quell my insecurities.
That night at dinner, we shared our pasts over fried calamari, garlic bread and pasta. Before taking me home, he suggested a stop a Baskin Robbins for chocolate mint ice cream — it was love at first bite.
Through the years, our bond and waistlines thickened. We snuggled under the covers with double stuffed Oreos and peanut M&M’s. We watched the Miami Marathon from front row seats at a little French restaurant. We snickered at the runners who favored perspiration and shortness-of-breath over cheese-filled omelettes and buttery croissants slathered with apricot jam.
We have also shared the humiliation of being fat in a world that extols thin: the raised eyebrows when we reached for a second hot roll, the smirks as we wedged our derrieres into airplane seats, and the giggles when we pulled down walking shorts that stuck to our thighs.
It was us against them — a united front that deepened our connection.
My husband’s slide into slimness began when, for health reasons, I asked him to join the gym with me. At first, it was as if I’d asked him to sprint naked on a treadmill. Then, he negotiated, “If you stick with it for a year, I’ll give it a try.” I did. He joined. And he liked it.
And then, treason — he began counting calories. “Honey, at lunch today instead of a Big Mac I ordered a small hamburger. Guess how many calories I saved?” I thought, “good for you” and “I don’t care.”
I knew he had officially switched teams when he replaced his usual “big man stack” of pancakes drenched in butter and syrup with a short stack and a “sugar-free syrup, please” to the waitress. Even worse, he traded in his “Drinks Well with Friends” t-shirt for a clingy Under Armour.
Yes, it is affecting me. Last night at dinner our waiter asked, “How about dessert?” Before I had a chance to respond, Charles patted his (now flat) stomach and said, “None for me. It’s not good for my waistline.”
I wanted to smash his diet in the face. Not only has he crossed over to the svelte team — he’s become the captain.
I fight my monsters. Now that Charles is in shape, will I have to work toward a matching flat stomach, cellulite-free thighs and perky breasts? Will I need to collect quinoa recipes and force my arthritic knees into those impossible yoga poses?
Weighted down by my anxieties, I go to my husband and confess my fears. He takes me in his arms and whispers, “I love you just the way you are.”
Just in case, tomorrow, I’m eating a hard-boiled egg and rice cake for breakfast.