I can tell you that in August 1996 I weighed 118 pounds and that I was a size 4 on a good day and a size 6 the morning after I ate too much Chinese food. I know this because in April 1996 I weighed 156pounds and that is when I went on the liquid diet where I drank three repulsive shakes a day and put absolutely nothing else in my mouth for four months. Nothing. Nada. I did not cheat with one small morsel. The reward I got for that was that I lost 38 pounds in four months and I became a member of the Club. The Thin Club. I did not know what The Thin Club was until I was initiated. And then I understood that this must mean that I had formerly been a member of The Fat Club.
I am like one of those savants who can tell you what day of the week October 3rd fell on in any given year or who can add up columns of fifteen-digit numbers in their heads. Only I can do this with my weight. I can tell you what I weighed in any given year or at any given event in my life.
I know what I weighed in August 1996 because I ended my fast on the day of the closing ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics and I was there with my family. The rule was that I had to wean myself back on to food with a baked potato. So the day I re-entered the world of chewing we had to call several restaurants before we found a place that would guarantee me one. I weighed myself just before we went out. The scale read 118. So that’s how I know what I weighed.
As soon as we returned home, I took my 118 pound body and went to the Gap. To this day, I can kick myself for not going to Barney’s or Neiman Marcus where I could have, for once in my life—-and I mean once—fit into their clothes. But I went to the Gap. I looked at the sizes on the tags and I really had no idea where to begin. I took a little black dress, size medium, into the dressing room and walked out to look in the three-way mirror. The cute, young sales boy looked at me and said, “too big.”
“I know,” I said, “I probably still could lose a few more pounds.”
“That dress is too big on you,” he said. “Let me get you a small.”
The last time I put on a small was when I tried on a pair of men’s sweatpants. You notice I didn’t say “bought” a pair of men’s small sweatpants. I didn’t. They were too tight. But now I paraded out in my size small little black dress and the cute young sales boy said, “You’ve got a great figure, girl, you should show it off.” I smiled and acted as if that was something I heard all the time, still it was very dear of him to say so. And then I sashayed back into the dressing room and did a little dance in which I moved everything but my feet because I didn’t want the sales boy to think I was some crazy lady after we had such a special moment together.
This kind of thing kept happening. I’d walk into a store and salespeople would immediately ask if they could help me. Before, I’d have to lasso the salesperson to get them to pay attention. But more interesting than my shopping experience was the reaction of my thin friends.
It’s not that I hadn’t been close with my thin friends before or that I thought they cared more about me now that I was thin. It was just that they had this new conspiratorial way of talking to me. When we’d go out to lunch they would praise me for discovering the path to thinness and encourage me to stay on it. They would include me in discussions of shopping outings they were planning, or share tips on stores where we could buy cute little bathing suits. No matter that we were all married, they would feel free to comment on men that were noticing them, knowing that I was now worthy of similar attention. It was like I was let into a secret society. My good thin friends had been censoring some topics and tweaking others to spare my formerly fat feelings and now we were all free, free, free to be thin together.
If this was a fairy tale, I’d be sitting here happily sipping bubbly water and filling up on wedges of lime, but it being real life, the truth is that six months after I bought my little black dress, I was chowing down fish and chips. And as of today… well, let’s just say that it’s no surprise that I’ve been blackballed from The Thin Club. It really isn’t as tragic an ending as it sounds. My thin friends are still my friends, and my fat friends like me better than they did before I deserted them. And I’ve pretty much given up my obsession with my weight. Who has time? I’m too busy being hysterical about my age. But that’s another story.