One advantage (or disadvantage, depending on the day) of living hundreds of miles away from my family is that months at a time often pass between seeing my relatives. My quick weekend visits, though somewhat frequent, never allow me enough time to see everyone that I would like. So, it’s not uncommon for me to only see some folks at the holidays or during the dreaded family reunion.
It has long been my goal to make sure no one at home tells me that “I look healthy” when I visit. “You look healthy,” as we all know, means “damn, you never met a donut you didn’t like.” I generally hover around 170 pounds, a decent weight to carry on my 5′-11″ frame. But in high school, and throughout most of college, I was a good twenty pounds lighter. At the time, I actually TRIED to gain weight because I thought I looked too thin.
With the end of college came a career that had my ever-expanding ass plopped in front of a computer screen 9 plus hours a day. And it brought with it a paycheck that allowed me to eat out whenever I pleased, and a circle of friends just as busy as I was–all eager to squeeze in some social time with their meals.
So, I beefed up. Well, beef might be a generous term…it implies that my weight gain was muscle. And it certainly wasn’t.
“You look great!” people back home would say. “You’ve gained some weight! It looks healthy on you!” Most everyone thought the extra weight looked good on me, or were at least too polite to say otherwise.
Everyone, that is, except for our Nana. One Christmas I hauled my 180-some pound ass into her house and was promptly greeted with, “My, you look husky!” HUSKY!! Our beloved, stick-thin, Nana, who insists on serving you a minimum of 1,000 calories for every ten minutes spent in her home, thought I was fat. She quickly back pedaled, assuring me that I looked great…and has, to this day, continued to apologize for what she swears was meant to be a compliment.
But that was a wake up call. (Well, that coupled with catching a glimpse of myself coming out of the shower the next week and realizing that my ass looked like it had hail damage). I dropped 20 pounds the next year, stepping up my exercise and watching what I ate.
The next year at Christmas, people asked if I was eating. If I was getting my vitamins. No one told me I looked “healthy” and no one damn sure said I was “husky.”