So I’m reading through all of these excellent posts on the Big Fat Carnival, and one of them spurred a memory of several recent experiences.
The first was about two months ago. Sam and I went to Jenny’s Giant Burger for some beefy goodness. Now, Sam is a large man. He’s tall, and well muscled, and…there’s just a whole lot of Sam going on. I look like a waif next to him. So there we are, standing in line to order.
“I’ll have a double giant cheeseburger,” Sam says, “with grilled onions.”
The man taking the order turned to me. I’m pretty sure he expected me to order a veggie burger, or maybe a single burger. But what I ordered was clearly outside the realm of his imagination.
“I’ll have a triple giant cheeseburger*,” I said, “also with grilled onions. And fries.”
“No,” I said, “I think that will just about do it.”
We sat down. We were given our tag. The kitchen brought out our burgers shortly thereafter, and the cook actually asked to shake my hand, because he was so impressed by my order.
See here’s the thing. I eat a lot. Even when I was a skinny little bastard, I ate a lot. I guess that makes me a lot like the mythical fat person, except that I’m not eating all the time, I just eat a large amount of food when I do sit down to eat. It’s how I operate. I love food, and I love good food, and I am not in least embarrassed about it. This seems to confuse and trouble people, sometimes.
And I sat down and ate every bite of that burger, and growled at Sam when he tried to steal my fries, and it was, in fact, delicious. Greasy and beefy and elegant in that way that only Jenny’s can be.
About a month ago, Ailish and I went out to eat. Ailish is a very big lady, and she deals on a daily basis with serious fat discrimination, despite the fact that she’s in great shape. And she eats way better than I do, as exemplified by our varied orders. Also her boobs make a great pillow.
“I’ll have the light chicken, sauteed, with dijon tarragon sauce,” she said.
“I’ll have the spinach salad and then the steak, grilled, with charmoula,” I said. (Which was, by the way, delicious. I greatly appreciate a kitchen that respects a request for rare meat.)
When our food arrived, we laughed. We both knew that Ailish would finish about half her chicken and have the rest boxed, because this is her way. Because, newsflash, fat people don’t always eat a lot. I may embody the stereotypical fat person stereotype, but not everyone does.
It’s not that she doesn’t eat a lot because she is dieting, or watching her food intake, she just doesn’t eat that much, and this troubles people almost as much as my profligate eating. As women, we are both expected to eat modest portions of ladylike foods, like salads and fish and chicken. Yet, as fat people, we are expected to be eating all the time. In neither case, it should be pointed out, are we supposed to enjoy our food. Either we should be suffering and on a diet, or just “not that into” food, as a friend of mine claims she is. I think it causes some cognitive dissonance for people to watch the two of us eat out–I gleefully tear into a burrito the size of my head while she daintily nibbles on an enchilada. Invariably, our plates get switched by inattentive staff, because obviously the fatter person would have ordered the pot roast, while the other would order the salad (maybe I’m thinner because I’m trying to get my weight down, you see, so I would want the salad).
Maybe it’s just seeing real! live! fat people! eating that disturbs people. I think we’re supposed to hide indoors bemoaning our weight and reaching for the bon bons, not going outside and getting on planes and walking our dogs and, you know, living. In an ideal world, I suspect that most of the thinnies would rather we were on a separate island, so they wouldn’t have to worry about contamination. Alas for them, the fatties are here to stay, and we’re starting to get grumpy about being second class citizens.
*For those of you unaware of the Jenny’s burger system, this is a pound of meat.