One…two…three…this fucking misery.
Four…five…six…I look different in those pics.
Seven…eight…nine…I don’t think these pants are mine.
Ten…eleven…twelve…these ones I’ll have to shelve.
Thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…did this skirt grow some in the dry clean?
Sixteen…seventeen…eighteen…getting skinny as a runner bean.
And nineteen leads to twenty…I’m a weight loss cognoscenti.
Yesterday I ran into someone I haven’t seen for a few months. As seems to be the case when that happens these days, the person almost immediately commented on my weight. More specifically, they commented on the LOR – Lack of Robin – that is my appearance these days.
I appreciate a compliment as much as anyone else, but not for reasons you may think. I am an expert at deftly denying the validity of any compliment and insulting myself at the same time. It’s a special talent that runs in my family. I am especially susceptible to comments about my weight, as I’ve struggled with it over the years and have historically based a large portion of my self-esteem on the number typed on a tag inside a pair of pants.
I’m working on it. Don’t judge me!
So there I am at the gym, minding my own business (not true – nobody minds their own business at my gym) and along comes a woman I’ve known for about twenty years.
“Wow! You look great! You’re so skinny! You look ten years younger! You bitch!”
We laughed, I thanked her, and as I always do when someone compliments me on my appearance, I suggested she visit her eye doctor post haste.
I’m working on it. Don’t judge me!
Unfortunately, like so many women with whom I am acquainted, the conversation focused on the superficial: the LOR and how it was achieved.
“So,” she murmured enviously,”what’s your secret?”
I looked at her – all 118 pounds of her – with her 2.5 caret diamond ring and her $3,000 purse and her $200 haircut, and I decided to be as honest and real in that moment as I could be.
“Well, in June my husband decided he’d rather not be married to me any longer. I lost my partner, best friend, lover, and a large group of people I thought were my “family” overnight. He had supported me in my change of career from lawyer to writer, but apparently his patience and understanding had run out.
“When he left the marriage, he left me, my son, and our two dogs (one of whom has a serious drinking problem) without financial assistance. I wanted to stay in our house until my son graduated from high school, but my husband and his lawyer told me he would force the sale of the home.
“Because of that my son and I had to move into a rental, and soon after we did so I found out my husband is dating my new next-door-neighbor. Do you still follow me?”
Her eyes widened and she nodded her head. I think she was expecting to hear “I quit carbs,” or some other bullshit. I couldn’t tell if she was fascinated or repulsed. Perhaps she was both.
“So I had to start my business overnight, and over the past several months I have tried my best to negotiate a fair settlement with my husband. However, he has decided he wants me to leave the marriage with 10% of what I came in with, while I estimate he will leave with around 300% of what he came in with. Also, his income dwarfs mine by a factor of ‘a shitload.'”
She shifted her feet uncomfortably and looked around for someone to rescue her. I understood her desire to leave, but I wasn’t done with her yet. In order to fully captivate my audience of one, I encircled her insect-like stick of an arm with my right hand.
“I’ve begged him to talk to me but he refuses, and all communications have to go through his lawyers. Now he and his lawyers are blaming me for his legal fees. My house hasn’t sold yet, I’m scared to death most days, my husband is happier than a pig in a feces bath, and I think I might be getting a yeast infection.”
At this point my prisoner/friend started babbling excuses about why she needed to leave, and perhaps we could continue this conversation another time over lunch? She tried to wrest away from my grasp, but like I said, she’s a tiny little bitch. She couldn’t get away.
“You wonder how I lost weight? I carved off twenty pounds since June because for a good month I couldn’t eat at all. I think I choked down about 400 calories a day, tops, from July to September. Since then, I continue to struggle with eating. Part of that is work-related, because I am working so hard to support myself that sometimes finding time to eat can be a struggle.
“But the truth is, the misery that comes with divorce, especially when you are facing several lawyers and you have none, and especially when your husband seems to have morphed into an entirely different person, poisons your appetite. I don’t even remember the last time I enjoyed food. I make an effort every day to feed myself enough to power my body for work and the rest of life, but it’s a struggle.
“I’m not sleeping much either, so these canyon-like bags under my eyes belie your claim I look ten years younger, but thanks for the compliment. Again, get yourself to your eye doctor.”
The woman looked at me quizzicality. “Robin? Are you OK? Did you hear me? I asked you how you lost the weight. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s OK. It’s none of my business.”
If this were television you could see that the entire conversation above was my fantasy telling of my weight-loss story. The camera would focus in on my face, go a little fuzzy, etc., and you’d know that I was only imagining what I’d tell her. Of course I’d never reveal such personal information about myself, you see.
That would be embarrassing.
“I’ve just been working out and eating less carbs,” I said. And then, just for good measure, I added, “plus, I’m getting divorced. So that might have something to do with it.”
“Well congratulations!” she shrieked. “Divorce sure looks good on you!”
“Better than it feels, I hope…” I muttered under my breath.
“What’s that hon? Oh never mind, I’ve gotta run! Let’s have drinks soon and catch up. You look great!”