Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fat Exchange Program

The other night at dinner Aidan turned to Marie and said unabashedly, "You must be wild about food or something because I have never seen anyone eat like you." Picture the animation of an Italian combined with the candor of a native New Yorker and the energy and impulsiveness of a new puppy on a freckle-faced elfish boy and you get some idea of Aidan. Aidan is not particularly into food so Marie is, in this sense, his polar opposite and a bit of a enigma.

Marie's love for food is hard to miss. She eats everything, licks the beaters, spatulas, serving spoons, etc. She places her finger inside serving bowls to get every last morsel. When I first developed an intolerance to dairy products, Marie would eat my mother's desserts and wax poetically about them to me. Her love of food and her deftness with the English language made me feel as though I had eaten the treat myself.

"I wish I could eat for you," Marie said at one point this week. "Me, too," I answered. I am eating everything I can and seem to only be able to maintain a weight of around 78 pounds. I cannot possible eat another thing.

Over the last several months I have entertained this fantasy of developing a "Fat Exchange Program" in which people could donate their unwanted pounds to me and I burn them off for them. It seems like a win-win proposition: the donors get to lose weight and I get the weight I need. There problem is that such a program only exists in my own fantasy world.

And, even if it were to become a possibility, the execution seems fraught with difficulties. I envision announcing my willingness to take unwanted pounds via some media blitz only to open my door the next morning and find an endless line of people willing to get a piece of the action. My basal metabolic rate is high but I have my limits. Then I'd have to choose whose weight to lose. I could chose those nearest and dearest to me, which seems wholly fair and justifiable. Or I could lose for the highest bidder, but I'm not really a capitalist, and I would feel badly taking advantage of someone's desperation in that way. Or, maybe, I could set it up as some non-profit organization, take applications, and chose the most worthy donors. Hmmm ... any way I look at it is seems like a very problematic approach to weight gain.

This is so American of me, looking for the quick fix. I am getting so impatient with this process. The whole process seems like a war with food and the scale as my enemies. I keep trying to tell myself, "It took a year to lose it (well, that's not true I lost the first ten pounds in two weeks, the second 6 pounds in a month and the last 2 over the past month) so I should give myself a year to put it back on." "But I want it yesterday," I scream inside like a petulant child.

Wednesday night we were eating dinner and Aidan remarked again to Marie that she really ate a lot of food. "Your mom could put it away in her day too," Marie replied, "The difference was that she never gained any weight." "Yeah," I answered, "That's come back to bite me on the ass, hasn't it?" (Over the past few weeks I have given up on not cursing in front of the kids. With limited time left on earth I figure I might as well teach them that, too). God, we used to chow. We'd spend Friday or Saturday nights watching movies and hanging out, especially at our best friend Sue's house (we were/are a trio). Since Sue was an only child, we could hang out there without being bothered by pesky brothers. When my dad would call to pick me up, Sue's father Hugh would inform my dad, "They are downstairs grazing." We didn't even take offense to the bovine comparison. We were just three happy, healthy teenage girls who already knew that food was central to life not own for physical sustenance but for the bonding opportunities that mealtime brings. I don't know if "Food is Love" but it certainly is a part of most loving relationships from a mother feeding her baby, to a family gathered for the nightly meal, to carefully planned and executed holiday celebrations. Some of my fondest memories involve loved ones gathered around a table enjoy each other company while nourishing our bodies.

I love to watch Marie eat, she reminds me of how I used to eat before my esophagus became so damaged and I had to start relying on pureed foods and pediatric formula. I can still enjoy the flavors of many foods and that is a blessing, and I continue to hope that someday I can return to my gluttonous little self only this time I want the weight to actually accumulate.

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