I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been on some kind of diet for like, eighty percent of my life.
Sometime in 2003 I’m thinking, it was another repeat Induction phase of the Atkins diet. Baggies of pepperoni slices and cheese cubes in my bag for summer classes, flavored seltzer in addition to my water and all the bunless bacon cheeseburgers and sides of broccoli I wanted before and after my shifts at Chili’s.
Chili’s, where I worked more hours than I wanted to but had some good times for sure. I also met some great people, some of whom I’m still in touch with. Chili’s is also where I met my friend Lindsay. Petite, blonde, super smart, runner’s body Lindsay.
We spent countless Friday nights going on dates to the movies and Panera and talking about everything from philosophy to celebrity news. She didn’t have my same boyfriend troubles, or diet woes but she always followed along and offered her advice.
On this particular summer day I am down about thirteen pounds and wearing bright colored plaid capri pants, sitting at a back table at work eating a burger before my shift.
Lindsay walks in, also early with an armful of jeans.
“Hey, I brought you some of my old jeans to try”
I stare at her, replaying the sentence in my head, because she couldn’t have said that.
“Come on, lets go try them on”
“Hah, uhhhh they’re not gonna fit me dude, but I’ll take them home and try them if that will please you” (followed by an eye roll and a laugh)
“No, were both here early, you have to change anyway, let’s just try them now”
I finish my lunch, and bring my plate and cup into the kitchen, Lindsay in tow.
Before I know it were in the bathroom. Me in the stall, Lindsay outside of it, handing me a pair of jeans over the top of the door.
Thirteen pounds down or not, that stall was not conducive to me using it as a dressing room; toilet paper dispenser jutting out of the wall, dark paint, low light, the whole thing is so dramatic feeling.
“Dude these are like a size 4, are you crazy?”
“Just try them, they’re stretchy”
“Stretchy enough to fit a size 16?! I don’t think so”
I get the one leg on, up to maybe, my kneecap.
“You’re not even tryyyyyyying”
She was right, I mean, I wasn’t. I couldn’t try to stuff two hundred some odd pounds into a pair of jeans that had spent their life being worn by someone seven sizes smaller than me.
It doesn’t work that way.
I fling the jeans over the door “Are you satisfied? They’re not gonna fit”
The jeans disappear from the top of the door.
Another pair of jeans is flung over the door.
“These are definitely stretchier, try them!”
I don’t grab the pants, they slide a little further over the door, I know she pushed them, so resisting is futile.
This pair, okay, I got them up. To, ya know, the bottom of my thighs.
I’m practically Ross in that friends episode with the leather pants.
Sweat is pooling on my forehead.
On my shoulders.
The pits of my knees are hot, moist.
This fucking pair of jeans that I have no business trying on are stuck.
My poor ham hock calves are having the life squeezed out of them by “stretchy” denim.
They’re like skin.
Melded to my actual skin.
I don’t know where they end and I begin.
“Yea, they fit?”
“Noooooooooooooo. Good God no”
“But I think I’ll keep them”
“YEA BECAUSE THEY ARE FUCKING STUCK AND I’LL HAVE TO CUT THEM OFF TO EVER BREATHE AGAIN SO I’D RATHER THEM BELONG TO ME WHEN I DESTROY THEM”
My sweaty hand tries to grip the wall, while I use my other hand, and foot to peel the now damp denim down my body.
Scratching my skin all the way, it peels down, rolling over on itself.
One leg down.
I’m so hot.
I mean, I’m getting a workout here in this 2×2 box.
My legs are pink. No, red, and puffy.
I change into my work shirt and my actually fitting size 16 jeans that I brought along from the safety of my own home. I wet my face, blot every part of me dry and still laughing, we go out to clock in.
A group of our coworkers are standing near the computers.
“Oh I thought I saw you earlier, I wondered where you went” one of them says to me.
“Yea, I came after class and had lunch, and then Lindsay wanted me to try on a few pairs of her old jeans”
Slow eye movement spread through the group.
Each trying to determine if her jeans would in fact fit me, knowing in their hearts there was no damn way.
“Come onnnnnnnn” I say “Seriously?!”
A final eye roll from me and we’re all laughing.