by Howard Rue
Warm Up Writing activity...should I be putting these in my notebook?
|Phil had begun to dread dinner. He had been having heart problems for so long, that it was only a matter of time before the doctors and the psychologists agreed-it was time to lose weight. He started the process over the summer, when the beaches were obsurdly full and the presence of so many slim torsos would make him feell all the more self conscious. He fought it, did not want to lose the weight. In fact, he did not drink, did not smoke, did not even indulge in cannibis, no matter how much public had agreed that it was no longer a threat to society.
But food. He had to eat. It was like swearing to stay off drugs, but still having to take the drugs. He had looked at the more passive options. A lapband. Sewing his jaws shut. He tried Jenny Craig. He worked with Weight Watchers.
And his waistline resisted, but then relented.
The battle was constant, like a world war without internal violence. He learned to not clean his plate, look at calorie counts, to remember the names of his foods.
And began to dread dinner. For as he calorie counted, that was the last meal, the meal he had to get past. If he had been good all day, there was no problem.
But if he had a cupcake for Morrie's birthday at the dealership, dinner became a problem.
When he accidently packed an extra granola bar in his lunch and wasn't thinking about it and gorged, dinner became a problem.
Dinner was not a problem when Markus was still around. The accident should have happened in front of a McDonald's. Because that was the point he started eating the world. The day he devoured everything in an attempt to fill the gaping hole that was once his heart.
He arrived at the Jar for the evening meeting, a gift for a terrific month of sales, after lingering over the menu online for, at least, a good hour. He analyzed every calorie count to fit his stomach, make eating out a pleasant experience. He could not just not go.
The stress was already riding his shoulders when he parked the car. He had already narrowed down the choices for his food selection to three. He could not move off of those. That left an allowance on food ready for a free dessert, he hoped and he would not have ot jot everything down into his phone to try to keep his calorie balance.
He had to bend in half again to get out of his car. He loved the car, but the weight was not helping with egress. He had to lose more weight.
When Phil sat down at the table, he looked at the menu and his heart ripped further.
It was different. New owners? New chef? His heart sank. He tried to remember the numbers, the counts of calories his chubby self could consume. The evening's levity was far from his mind.
He noticed the young man by his frequency. The waiter who served them was the most fantastic thing he had seen. Tattoos graced a full sleeve, but had been requested to be covered, it was evident, by one sleeve being pulled down and held in place by a rubber band. But it was there, the muscles underneath the sleeve pressing forward against the fabric and causing the darker stripes to dance. He had a baseball cap on, ovious not part of the uniform, but made the young man appear all the younger.
That was a nice break from calorie counting, Phil thought to himself, now? Get back to work.
"What can I get for you to drink, sir?" The young man had moved and faced Phil fully, as if he were the only person in the room. Phil had forgotten about attraction after such a long time with Markus. "Or do you need more time?"
"No, I, ah, do you happen to ahve changed the menu?"
"Our friend here is on a 'die...it!'" Margie yelped, using airquotes. "He's just being a fuddy duddy. Get him a beer."
"Now, now, now, I'm alright with that, it's okay sir. We did jsut get a new chef, and he chose to fix the menu. I totally get you, my friend, been working on my intake too."
"You're intake? You're a rail," Margie barked again.
"You are in training, aren't you? Is that a tattoo of Olympic rings?"
"Yes sir, you're not supposed to see that," the waiter adjusted his sleeve, "I'll tell ya what," the waiter knelt before Phil, as if proposing. "Personally? I like a man who's bigger porportioned. Train with too many skinny idiots who are overly concerned with intake."
"I know their pain."
"I'll have the chef make up something for you that he makes for me on nights I'm in for dinner."
"You'd do that?"
"For a hottie like you? Yeah, but only if you promise to call me after dinner's over."
Phil learned what a chaser was that night.