November 23, 2024

152.5 lbs. (Part 1)


I noticed my excesses near the time I took an earnest interest in boys. Their ungiving, shifting eyes, brought on by an inability to speak in any honest way of what they wanted or thought of me, caused me to search myself ceaselessly for the particulars that caused the men I wanted to ignore me. I would stand in front of the mirror and imagine my body as seen through someone else’s eyes. This is a dangerous hobby for any young gay boy, and the results were obviously a projection of my own misgivings about myself. I cracked and crazed in front of the mirror, and through such fairytale meditations, I only saw fat. A washed-out photograph from August, 1997, supports the verdict. I’m on a ferry in Puget Sound with my uncle. I had been buying X-large t-shirts and baggy jeans for years; by aping largesse I could hide the actual contours of my body. In the photo I’m fat. Chubby. Full in the face. Husky, as my mom would say. In hindsight, I can see now how I’ll never be able to outlive that particular, formative image I have of myself.

Though during my first year of college, when I lived in the dorms, I tried to. I would skip breakfast, eat a salad for lunch, a salad for dinner, and work out at the gym every day. Lifting some weights, but mostly running the treadmills and climbing endless flights on the stairmaster. Unfortunately, the stairmaster was my introduction to the world of the gym. Those things never bring you to a place. The journey is qualified in terms of the estimated number of calories burned, the watts generated. The journey is mapped on the charts I kept on which I plotted the meager increases in weights and measures that corresponded to my drop in body weight, but there was no way to know when the top might appear—there was no end to the stairs. As the pins journeyed down, collecting more and more black bars of lead, so did my weight drop. I went from 170 lbs to 145 in a matter of weeks. The last five pounds went much slower. You’re big boned, my mom would have said. Slowly, painfully, I reached 140. My mom began to mention concentration camps in a rather off-color way. Her references filled me with a secret pride.

Losing weight had become the journey. The destination became the journey, as long as I was continuously losing weight, then I had arrived. If I weighed less today then I did last week, then I had arrived. I was in a perpetual state of arriving; the station kept moving farther out after every meal. My goal was to eradicate the food I had just consumed, to burn it off before it took hold, weighed me down. Sustenance became synonymous with cancer and the debilitating blossoms of a cancer’s tumours.

At times, I’d grow nauseous, too weak to move. These were beautiful moments. The pain charted every point of my body. I felt all of myself as a series of junctures; bones meeting skin. I was omnipotent. These were my feelings. I did them. I made myself feel this way. As the engine ran out of fuel, it didn’t sputter. Instead it sped up, slimmed down, grew sleeker.

I’ve gained weight since then, of course. I joke to my friends that my ideal weight is 130 lbs but that’s utopian—something to dream about but impossible to achieve, like time travel. I’m big-boned. I’m compelled by more realistic goals these days, the desire to stay in a size 30” jeans, the statistic that on average adults gain one pound a year and my determination that it not apply to me. I tend to float through the gym these days, unnoticed. I am antimatter, surrounded by men who do not want to shrink, as I do. Men attend my gym to grow particular points of their bodies. The want to be noticed by particular muscles that grow grotesquely while at the same time waging war against the fat that grows in certain places. Pectorals that at age twenty-two defy gravity will sag at forty if not constantly whipped into shape like slaves. Tits go to seed like fallow fields. They puff up like bread dropped in the sea. The body grows excessive and useless. Attention is devoted to specific areas of growth and expansion. Diets are calculated, tweaked, supplemented toward these specific aims. Such attention signals wealth, time, resources that others don’t have. Once upon a time, fatness signaled this. Now fatness is the domain of the poor.

I am the opposite. I do not want large, beautiful man-breasts. At the chest press, the lateral pull-down, I watch my muscles flex in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. I don’t dream of expansion but of tightening efficiency. May my biceps lengthen out and grow tight like sinew, not bulge in materialistic excess.

Extra anything holds me back. I walk through the halls at work and absently pinch parts of my body, fretting over this drain on my resources. What is the purpose of this inch of skin I can pull away from my hip bone? What is that extra handful of flesh in my butt doing but holding me back? I must eradicate it.

During certain periods of stress and loneliness, my militancy takes on a particular pitch. I stand in front of a mirror, naked, and certain parts of my body appear to expand. All this work, and I look exactly like that kid on the ferry in Puget Sound. My eyes calculate the minutest changes. I track my morphology before and after dinner, before and after sleep.

Mornings I look my best. In the morning I’m fucking hot. Lying prone all night, the food snaking through my intestines has flattened out and lays uniform from the top of my digestive tract to the bottom. I twist in the mirror, like a chaff of wheat. The ribs show beautifully (what would be the purpose of flesh that would hide them?). I can suck in my stomach and measure the concave it creates. This is beautiful geometry. I have done it.

Gradually, gravity pulls my viscera back down again. This undulation informs my eating habits. I do not eat breakfast, or if I do, it’s something small like an apple or half a cup of granola. I try to maintain the shape of my midsection for as long as possible. After lunch, I feel tired, sad. I feel the food in there, puffing me out. I will not feel happy again until my afternoon bowel movement. That’s a beautiful feeling. Some sort of balance is maintained once again. I have to eat dinner eventually. Again, the love handles bulge out. I dream that I am Antonio from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, forced to render off a pound of flesh. Where do I start? At the sides of my body, of course. The scalpel would glide through the useless flesh. I imagine there are no nerves there, since it’s a useless part of my body. The blade glides through the slabs of butter that hang from my sides like saddle bags.

The destination is disappearance, but I am all about the journey, which is disappearing. I am growing smaller. I love to take up less space, fit into smaller and smaller clothes. Now I am closer than ever to fitting in my own

see also: 152.5 lbs. (Part 2)

Posted by jason at November 23, 2024 07:46 PM

That was some amazing writing, Jason. "Tits go to seed like fallow fields" made me laugh, however unintentionally.

I can't really relate with what you said, but I can understand it.

Sounds like Thanksgiving dinner is going to be torture!

Posted by: Mighty at November 24, 2024 12:24 PM

For should read "Good in Bed" by Jennifer Weiner

Posted by: jessica. at November 24, 2024 01:38 PM