I have a cousin who’s very special to me. He’s actually my dad’s second cousin and he is my dad’s age, but they two of them are very similar and pretty close with each other, so I’ve always had more of a niece-uncle relationship with this cousin ever since I can remember. I look forward to long talks with him at our family reunion every year, and he’s the person I’m always most eager to see. When we were saying good-bye at the end of the reunion last month, he looked at me very seriously and with a genuinely confounded expression on his face, and he asked me, “How have you not been snapped up yet?”
I ask myself that sometimes, but it’s never a thing I have to wonder about very long. Every reason I can think of, in the end, ties back to the weight. I don’t feel attractive, hence I don’t put myself out there in the first place, hence I am alone. I actually am not attractive, hence no one is attracted to me, hence I am alone. I spend all my free time in the gym, hence I don’t make time to meet or go out with anyone, hence I am alone. I have not felt like my true self in a long time, hence I can’t represent who I really am to a stranger, hence I am alone. The list goes on and on.
Of course, when you are uncomfortable enough with the real issues, you become a master deflector. You don’t want to think about it, hence you distance yourself from it, hence you answer such heartfelt questions with something like, “I don’t know, man. You need to have a talk with your gender on my behalf.”
Fifty-three pounds ago, I went on my first OKCupid date. I had no business being on a dating site in the first place, but I figured there was no harm in looking. Well, sure enough, I stumbled upon Perfect on Paper Guy. We had some astronomically high compatibility rating, a lot of similar interests, and a good amount of similarity in character. Before long, PPG and I progressed from in-app messaging to text messaging for hours. A week into this pattern, I got a message from him that said “OK, we have to meet, because you are too good to be real.” That was like a heart flutter and a heart attack at the same time. I knew I was too good to be real; he was surely envisioning some 120-pound girl, and he was about to meet an obese chick. I should have told him, or I should have had it on my profile that I was overweight, but I conveniently never mentioned it or completed that particular field on my profile. I put the in-person meeting off for a few days, but eventually, it was time to pull the trigger.
The amount of psyching myself up to go through with it was Herculean. I probably lost a full pound that day just from having an elevated heart rate from nerves. Before it was time to meet, I took myself to the roof of my office building and tried to calm myself the fuck down by writing on the back of an ATM receipt — the only paper I had on me — in order to keep some perspective. I still have it, taped inside my real diary:
“NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS,
You’re doing great.
You’ve lost weight.
You’ll continue to.
It’s not too late.
You’re proud of yourself.
You know who you are.
You deserve the best you can get from life.
Another person’s feelings about you don’t change or matter more than your own.”
On the other side, I wrote:
He’s just a person.”
I stared at that piece of paper for 20 solid minutes before heading over to meet him.
Predictably, it did not go fantastically. His face registered visible disappointment when he saw me and realized he’d been sold a bill of goods and this fat-ass was the person he was now obligated to spend the next interminable window of time with out of politeness. To top it off, we had ZERO chemistry in person, likely because of my lie by omission. (Honestly, though, I have the sense that he just doesn’t have much of a personality when he’s not communicating via text. It wasn’t a loss for me, in the end.) We suffered through 45 minutes in each other’s tortured company, then endured a painful metro ride in the same direction, until he mercifully got off at his stop. I texted him a thank-you on my walk home, he said you’re welcome, and that was it.
I figured the little experiment bought me another 40-50 pounds before subjecting myself to another such ordeal.
I recently heard somewhere that women’s biggest fear when meeting a man from online for the first time is violence. Men’s biggest fear when meeting a woman from online for the first time is that she’ll be fat. There’s ample evidence that supports this. Having had the experience I unwisely set myself up for in the spring, and then hearing about that, and then stumbling upon Bye Felipe right before my ill-advised second OKCupid date tonight was quite unfortunate.
This one went wrong for all the OPPOSITE reasons. First off, I initiated things with him. I was all stupid and giddy and high on Seattle and just went for it. It went the same way it started with PPG, and we texted round the clock for an entire week. I accepted a date like 3 days in. Stupid. Then, I told someone about it. Double stupid — but she did hold me accountable and make sure I didn’t punk out and not go. That was a feat within itself, because unlike last time, I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t even excited; I was annoyed that I was losing out on yet another night of my sacred and much-needed gym time, and mad at myself for so quickly forgetting the self-inflicted awkwardness of the last date.
BUT, I met him tonight, and it was fine. I even had fun… but like, fun I would have with my girlfriends. I really didn’t feel it with him. Unfortunately, he clearly felt it for me, which is a situation I have been in… uh… once, ever. I have never done so much tap dancing to avoid being kissed. I have also never gotten so much positive attention and been told I’m cute and attractive and blah blah blah. I am SO. UNCOMFORTABLE. The whole time, I was annoyed because my pants were falling off and my top was sliding off my shoulders, which probably looked like an intentional sexy move, but is actually because nothing I own fucking fits anymore. (I know, I know, first-world problems. Just saying, it made me self-conscious.) I was able to be myself, which I guess is the good thing I can take away from the experience, but I am 100% not ready to be taking steps towards finding a relationship. I’m still way too squirmy for that.
So, I am indefinitely swearing off dating. I’ll have to figure out a way to tell this guy I want to be friends, which I mean, without making it sound like a brush-off or revealing that I’m an obsessive RFG (Recovering Fat Girl) and I ain’t got no time fo’ alllll dat right now.
Leave it to me to overcome the Bye Felipe obstacle and skirt the showing up fat and being rebuffed risk, only to turn into the rebuffer. Sigh. I’m a damn mess. I should be locked in an isolation chamber until I’m thin.