Many nights I find myself in the kitchen after midnight, walking back and forth from the fridge and counter, pulling out a half dozen items: zucchini bread and peanut butter, cheese and shells, Cheerios and celery. Placing all this out like a really shitty buffet line, I hunch over and start assembling one thing while munching on another. Bite of celery while the tortilla is in the microwave. Plant the celery in a jar of peanut butter soil and eat the tortilla. Shove in as many different mixtures my mouth can hold. So what if I’m still chewing on some Cheerios. In comes the cheese and hot sauce anyway. So many little manic bites. Then I stand up and realize ten minutes has passed. I try swallow everything left. The wetness of different foods rings my lips. Wipe with my sleeve. I’ve eaten everything without once sitting down. Done it again. Half the counter space taken over by opened bags and jar lids, knives and cereal bowls. A scattered hoarding of food. My stomach feels full and I’m glad it’s over. Ashamed that I’d pigged out so mindlessly. Then I hear some toast pop. Fuck, can’t throw that away. Guess I’ll eat it too.
Growing up we always ate healthy in our house. My mom was a bit of a weird food nut. She kept all these health and natural cures books in the bathroom on top of her grandma’s old scale. When I started having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school she thought I should try out a carrot diet before seeing the eye doctor.
We never ever had pop or candy. Her idea of a treat was taking us to a nature food store to get fruit leathers or this thing called a Tiger’s Milk bar which tasted like sandy dirt coated in diet chocolate. A couple days after Halloween my mom would find our pillow cover sacks full of candy bars and chewy sugary shit, then trash them. You’d come home from school one day and your whole stash was gone. No explanation. No apology. In later years we learned to hide our stuff, but still she found it. Sneaky bitch.
My mom made healthy meals, then when they tasted like shit she’d pretend they were good. Delicious, in fact. If I tried something and said it was horrid, she’d say it was packed with vitamins and that I shouldn’t complain, even if she’d yet to have a bite. Hag never realized that it doesn’t matter how much nutrition is in a thing if you won’t swallow it. We have a big garden and so in the summers a lot of our meals came from there. You’d have yummy stuff like corn on the cob and green beans with mashed potatoes. But we also ate a lot of plain squash: green shell holding a pound of yellow shit. Sometimes we’d gut a pumpkin and bake the seeds. That was always good. You could put some in a Ziploc and snack ’em all day from your pocket. A while ago I drove across the country and attempted to eat an entire pumpkin while doing so. But that’s a story for another time.
I always ate so quickly. Have had a lifelong habit of just shoving food into me as fast as I can. Growing up I’d be plowing through a meal at a friend’s house, then realize I was way ahead of everyone else. I would stop eating in intervals or chew every bite for a very long time. I lived in fear or being the first to finish their plate, even though all I wanted was to take more. Sometimes my dad brought home a treat like cookies. I would eat one and then another. Before I knew it I had eaten most of them and now I was going to have to explain why I pigged out on all the good food. Why I didn’t save any for the others. I didn’t mean to do it. It was always so embarrassing. A compulsion and greed I couldn’t seem to control. When questioned, I always got defensive or pretended I didn’t know what was going on.
I didn’t even really realize I was a chubby kid until looking at some childhood photos recently. Up until third grade I looked thin and fine, but fourth through sixth were rough times for your humble narrator. I had a lot of fluff in my freckly cheeks, pog shaped glasses, and shitty Goodwill t-shirts that hugged my body all wrong. I remember times we were on a vacation and I wouldn’t want to go swim or sit in a hot tub because I didn’t really like the way my stomach looked. My gut never hangs like most people; it’s always rolled up. No kid wants to go to the pool with fat rolls. I’d look fine standing, but if I sat down or bent over it looked like a trash bag full of peanut butter, rippling in the wind. Which I basically was.
Seventh and eighth grade I knew I was built a little bigger, but didn’t really feel fat. My body type won’t allow me to be thin, just average, so I made mental allowances as to what was normal for my frame. I played basketball (I still wear a pin with a picture of me in my basketball gear circa 1999 and tell people it’s my ugly nephew) and was in decent shape. We ran a drill called “manmakers” and I was good at them. Hardly got out of breath. I still didn’t want to take my shirt off though because I had some backne. Rubbing it down with egg yolk and vinegar never worked, though I did try at my mother’s insistence. Whenever basketball practice was split into shirts and skins I’d pray to be on shirts. If I wasn’t I’d give my chest and back a huge scratchdown before going skins. My coach said it looked like I had red tiger stripes. We had some nurses come check us for scoliosis and I did the same thing. I was so embarrassed about the acne on my back. I scratched myself raw. The ladies checking me said I must be itchy. But scoliosis free. Scratching just drew more attention to my body. Even if I didn’t feel fat, I still wasn’t happy with the way I looked.
Through most of high school I felt fine with my weight. I didn’t have a problem taking my shirt off when we had to swim for gym. I wasn’t built, but I looked normal. Then sophomore year I got a job at a gas station called Town Mart. This was the beginning of how I got to be overweight.
At the gas station I never brought a lunch with me. Then around seven or eight at night I’d get hungry. Tummy would rumble, fries would answer. Town Mart was a haven for anyone looking to eat themselves into a life of watching Wheel of Fortune every evening by the time they struck thirty. There literally wasn’t a single healthy dinner item sold there. All these years I’d had to eat healthy. The only time I got to have junk was when I’d go hang at my cousins’. Now I had money and was surrounded by fryer food and gut bombs four or five nights a week. I really got into these microwave burritos. I was a vegetarian at the time and so always had the bean and cheese one. I’d make it, then take a couple slices of cheese and stuff it into the folds. Then I’d squeeze Miracle Whip on top. I often made mozzarella sticks in the fryer and would pack those into the burrito too. Sometimes I’d pour nacho cheese over this. It was ritualized eating. And so this became my meal a few times a week.
By my senior year I noticed that I’d gained maybe ten or fifteen pounds, but didn’t feel too worried. At this point I weighed about 190. For reference, I’m about six feet tall. But I still looked good. Around junior year is when I stopped being such a socially awkward nerd and came into my own. I’d grown a little, toned up, made some friends, got into cool music, became aware of the world, etc. So senior year I was still riding off of that. Then I met a girl.
I’ve written about my first relationship so go here if you want the back history:
She made me feel really good about myself and physical appearance. I met her around the tail end of senior year. I’d lost a bit of the burrito weight and looked pretty alright for a young clueless dude.
She made me feel good about my body. The physical things we did were an affirmation that I wasn’t some pudgy monster. She told me how her friends thought I was hot. I’d drive out to see her and would always pull over on a gravel road a few miles from her place to do myself up: cologne, Blistex, fuck around with my hair, brush my teeth and hit ’em with some Listerine. Then I’d go to her place and my shirt would come off. She touched me and it felt good. I turned her on and that felt incredible. Then after a series of events over eleven months, she dumped me.
This spiraled me into a bit of a depression, or at least deep sadness. I couldn’t eat for a while and ended up losing about twenty pounds. At this point I was nineteen and out of high school, but not in college. Still working at the gas station and in time got back into those burritos. My friend worked at McDonald’s and was always hooking me up with free shakes. Since he knew my mom hated fast food (we never had that either) he’d bring over a huge brown paper bag of burgers, fries, McNuggets and pies most nights after closing. We’d play Halo, chat with my sister, and snack on the cold greasy shit. We stuck what was left in the fridge or put it on the counter so that it would be the first thing my mom saw in the morning. Sack soaked through with so much grease it left a sheen on the countertop. She threw dozens of these bags away. It got to the point where she threatened to call McDonald’s and ask why she was finding a fridge full of their burgers every morning. So we stopped that, but I was still getting heavier. It didn’t take long before I gained back much of the lost breakup weight.
At Town Mart I began drinking pop instead of water since we got it for free. And I had never ever been a pop drinker prior to this. I also started mixing cappuccino and soft serve ice cream. Had to have at least one giant cup of that a day. I was still weighing about 190, but wasn’t getting physical activity like I had been in high school. I rode my bicycle a lot of days, but that didn’t do much except make my legs strong.
I entered college at nineteen and felt pretty alright with the way I looked. I was tan and had long hair. Soon I made new friends and was hanging and flirting with girls for the first time in six or so months. I felt somewhat attractive. I was living off campus on a farm with my parents but had friends in the dorms. They’d take me to the dining halls with them and I couldn’t believe that they essentially got to eat a buffet every single day. I’d make french fry salads and dip my grilled cheese into ranch dressing mixed with more cheese. A friend of mine from class said that most vegetarians were thin and he always wondered why I wasn’t a stick, but then after taking me to eat said “Oh, gotcha, so Nolan puts pop tarts on his cereal.” It made me think, am I overweight? I’ve thankfully never been huge, but someone could look at me at times and think that guy could lose a few pounds minimum. I had no moderation at all now. Like the Town Mart, I was surrounded with food options and my mom wasn’t there to regulate anymore.
The final day of my first year of college a group of friends and I played basketball for a few hours. My eighth grade backup forward skills came into play, and I rocked the court despite being barefoot. It helped that my friends were all horrid at sports, even the dude on the swim team. Someone filmed this and we wound the night down by looking through what had been shot. It was in this moment I realized I was chunkier than I wanted to be. I weighed about 200 pounds now. I had this long shaggy hair and kind of looked like a dipshit hippie hustling around the court in my Eraserhead shirt. A year of bad college eating had caught up. Maybe it wasn’t a freshman fifteen, but a freshman twelve is probably accurate.
School let out in May and in June I lived in a hole in the ground for five days.
It’s an experience I’ll write about in another blog. The basic overview was that I decided to dig a hole in the woods and live in it without a tent or food (but had juice and water) for a week. I dropped close to ten pounds and felt happy with the way I looked again. 190 was a pretty good weight for me.
Immediately after this I jetted down to South Carolina to visit my older sister for three weeks in Charleston. I spent my time there pigging out on children’s snacks and reading Catcher in the Rye on an ocean beach. The end of summer came and I was back up to around 200 pounds.
I moved out of my parents’ and into an apartment with a guy who had been my best friend freshman year. This was my first time living on my own. First time grocery shopping for myself. At least my freshman year I was living at home so the healthy food there balanced out what I was eating on campus. Now in my own apartment I was eating whatever I wanted. I’ve never been into sweets and wasn’t even drinking pop. But I was eating tons of cheese and microwave shit. I would make these veggie subs that required me to buy like $30 worth of ingredients and then spend twenty minutes assembling. They were so big I couldn’t bite into them straight on and half the fillings dripped out onto my hands. It was basically a ton of cheese and chips and ranch piled together. They were delicious but unhealthy. I didn’t even realize I was eating bad. I’d drop $150 on groceries and didn’t really care. Netflix and food were my budgetary indulgences. My mom tried to help me out by buying fruit or Lean Cuisine meals, but I was eating too much grease and wasn’t really exercising other than walking to and from campus.
My roomie and I started going to our school’s wellness center a bit. This was the first time in my life I’d been part of a gym. I would use the elliptical for an hour straight and burn a ton of calories. Seeing those numbers was encouraging for a couple minutes. I knew I wasn’t looking my best and so wanted to try work on it. But after a workout I’d go home and pig out. I’d pack string cheese with me and snack on it during the day. Then came home after class and crashed on the couch for an afternoon of Star Trek: The Next Generation and whatever snacks I could lay on my chest. I rarely ate meals, just snacked all day. We didn’t have a dinner table so always ate on mattresses. My roomie and I would order a pizza and eat it on my bed while watching some bad Japanese horror porn. He told me he was a little worried about my weight because he’d seen my student i.d. from freshman year and could tell I was heavier now. He was thin but trying to lose some tummy fat too. Dude always ate a ton of watermelon and tracked his calories. I mocked him, but while he was losing weight, I was gaining.
Him and I had a big falling out that happened slowly over time. I felt extremely sad and was eating more and more. Stopped going to the gym and started having dinner on my mattress alone. I’d begun dating a great girl who was really thin and she always fed me as a way of showing affection. She came more than a year and a half after my first girlfriend. I’d been with no one in the interval. When she complained about not being able to lose a couple pounds I always felt irritated because I had a real weight problem but her body was great. At times I literally weighed 90+ pounds more than her but she didn’t care. She didn’t pressure me to work out. She fucked me a ton and made me feel good about myself and physical image. I always tried to stay healthy before so that a girl would be attracted to me. But now I had one and didn’t feel the pressure to keep up with that. I don’t know how it happened, but I ballooned up.
I took a year off college between my sophomore and junior years. This was when the falling out really came into effect between the roomie and I. And I didn’t have a gym to go to anymore. My weight gain occurred so gradually that I didn’t even realize it was happening. I knew I weighed more, but didn’t keep a scale around and thought I was still alright. I was about to quit my job at Town Mart. I’d started bringing lunches with me there so that I wouldn’t have to eat their stuff. Stopped drinking pop altogether. But I was living a very sedentary life off the corner of my mattress, staring at a computer screen ten hours a day. And so, the weight came back.
I quit my job and decided to become a lab rat. This basically entails going to a medical research facility, they lock you in, have you take a drug that’s being tested out, then collect a bunch of your blood. You essentially get paid to read books and watch movies all day. And the studies paid a ton of money. But you had to be healthy to do them, and part of healthy meant being at a good weight. I weighed myself and found out I weighed about 225 pounds (give or take since I was using my dead Grandma Mailbox’s broken scale that was normally just the bookshelf for Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About). This scared me. I had no idea I’d gained so much. To do a study you had to have a BMI under 30. Thirty or more was technically considered obese. I was 30.5.
I was obese. It didn’t make sense. I just looked kinda chunky but not like a fatass. I flipped through photos of myself and realized how unhealthy I’d become. I couldn’t see it until then. I’d shower and then stand naked in front of the mirror. Pull on my gut. Up and down. Suck it in. Stick it out. Pinch my sides. Stretch the fat of my neck. Call myself disgusting. Slap my stomach and say “you’re a pig, Nolan.” I felt so ugly. I had a gut. There were signs of stretch marks. My ass looked bad. I had dropped out of college. Lost my friends. Yeah I had a pretty girlfriend. But I was a fat fuck nothing.
Will Gabfrab lose weight? Will he animorph into a pig? Find out with the second and final part of Tales of a Fat Fuck Nothing:
Your Basketball King Narrator, Gabflab: