Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thinian & Fatlish, Part I

There's been a lot of blog-talk about how to talk Thin & how to stop talking Fat. The concern has applied to dating, & it's applied to life. So I'll take a stab at the subject in that order.

For those of Us who have been struggling against our weight -- or the many circumstances that Set Us Apart at a Too-Early Age (being too nerdy, being poor, whatever) -- for many years, we have to consider how much we missed out on. We are stunted, emotionally & socially, & not infrequently we're lagging professionally & financially. It takes years to catch up.

Thin girls learned to talk to boys at whatever age they started being interested in each other. They rode bikes down steep hills, no hands, together. They went to parties & played spin-the-bottle. They had crushes that changed every week. They had "boyfriends" in name only because they were too young to do anything more than use the term. They cheered boys on at basketball games. They went on their first date with one of the parents driving. They went to dances that included Sadie Hawkins.

When you become thin after the age of about 17, all this stuff is well past. Flirting has become a more intimate game with more extreme possibilities attached to it. So when you haven't started with the gonzo bike thrill or the I'll show you mine if you show me yours, how well will we flirt, let alone talk to a man?

If you look at the stuff I've listed as preliminary to grown-up dating, you'll see a lot of it is physical, a lot of it is joint-activity, a lot of it is public, a lot of it has no substance whatsoever. Some of it has the girls on the sidelines singing the school song.

There are some useful lessons here for those of Us catching up. When Dick & Jane are racing their sleds down Bald Mountain, they get to the bottom, possibly in a heap, & talk about how fast, how cold, how deft the ride was. When Dick & Jane party down with Nan & Bert, Freddie & Flossie, Jo & Laurie in the Bobbsey basement, & Laurie decides he wants to go "steady" with Flossie, they may never do more than walk home from school together. Flossie, however, has learned that a "relationship" can be nothing more than a word.

As for "Fight, Mighty Possums, Fight!" the girls are learning enthusiasm, admiration, stand-by-your-man &...when not to need. Bert is tired from losing 101 - 98 to the Wolverines. He's depressed. He wants to hang out in the locker room with Freddie, Laurie & Dick.

& when Jo gets to see Bert, when she rides her Schwinn over on Saturday morning, she's going to be wreathed in smiles, maybe carrying brownies she got up extra early to bake, with suggestions of doing something that will take his mind, & his mind's body, off his defeat. A bike ride. A visit to the swimming hole. Bowling. That monster movie where she can clutch him & make him feel all protective & manly.

How do these lessons learned between the ages to 12 - 18 apply to Us?

Fat Girl Date Rules:

1. Meet with a plan to DO something. You're leaving the Planet of Fat, so try, if you can, to arrange a walk-&-talk or movie or something.

2. Do NOT talk about your weight loss or diet. If you have to invent something more important than your weight for conversation, do it. Make sure that, if it's a girly thing ("I love to knit") it can translate to a guy thing ("I made a gray cable sweater for my father last Christmas that you'd look great in!")

3. Talk to him about him. Tell him he looks great. Laugh at his jokes. Ask him questions.

4. Take him brownies. Or a CD you burned of sure-fire tunes. Take a pack of Black Jack gum or Sugar Babies so that you have something era-appropriate to laugh about in common. (You X-generationers & others will have to figure out your own version of this)

5. Look at the other men if you're in a lighted, public venue. You aren't doing this to drive insecurity into your date, you're doing it to remind you that ther are other men out there & to do some on-the-spot comparison shopping that may give you a better sense of whether you're truly attracted to your date or not.

6. Ask for advice in some area he knows more about than you. The last date I had was a man into "the Standards" -- the romantic songs of Rogers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, etc. He could go on at length about Rosemary Clooney versus Frank Sinatra. I was interested in it enough to think, "I wouldn't mind spending an evening letting him play me his favorite songs & dilating upon them."

7. When he asks about you, talk about your friends & plans & busy schedule. Have. A. Life.

8. Smile. A lot.

Do I follow all these rules? No. For one thing, when someone asks me what I do, it's kinda hard not to get into the weight-thing. I turn it back to dogs as quickly as possible, however, & to him. I don't take stuff but I might go in with an attitude that's the same as a box of rocks. I must find dried mushrooms for Tina or if we don't have potato pancakes, I'll die.

& when it's all said & done with, have something as delicious as fudge waiting for you at home. A book, a video, slippers, guilt-free computer gaming, uploading photos -- anything, even fudge itself -- so long as you're going home to something you like more than how much you think you should like this man.

Because a former fat girl will always think this is her last date, the only date, the end of the line. It can take two weeks to get over that way of thinking

If you liked him enough to see again, email or call him (try to get his machine) the next day & thank him for the lovely time & nriefly mention something you liked about him ("You made me laugh. I needed that.")

Then...let it go.

That's what girls who started dating at 12 years of age learned to do.
Nota bene: These rules are not The Rules. They only work when they become second nature to Us. They must be used as Our stomachs twist, we obsess, cry, & check our in-boxes 1500 times a day.
After about 10 years it gets easier.


Anne M. said...

Wow. Very good, practical advice that I know is good for me and probably others to hear. I never did the dating thing - can count my dates practically on one hand - and know that I missed all of the 12-20 age experiences. It helps to have specific things to do NOW, that are doable.

I think maybe I need to spend time with this list and absorb the rules so they become natural to do. Stopping mid-conversation to pull up a printout before continuing isn't going to win me any points - or, more importantly, more dates.

Unknown said...

Not a bad list of rules but also pay attention to how he talks to you, I think. And the other people around. If he's obnoxious to the wait staff, for example, that's a terrible sign. Or flirts with them, just as bad. Don't get so wrapped up in pleasing someone else that you'd forget to notice whether he's fun to be with. I think #7 is the most important rule, maybe the only rule that matters.

Also, I wouldn't bake brownies for a first date. I'm not that kind of girl. Maybe third date, if I really liked him.

Lori G. said...

Very good rules and much appreciated. I've noticed that Mr. GOP and I end up talking about weight loss (he brings it up) and so #2 is interesting to me. Of course, I have not heard boo from him since Date #2.5.

I think maybe I'll figure it out before I go into a retirement home....

Anonymous said...

But lots of women who are fat date a lot, and lots of women who are not fat never date and don't know how to do it.

I know that you have said elsewhere that not every woman who meets our society's definition(s) of "fat" is, or considers herself, a Fat Girl. So maybe, here, the Fat Girl is a subset of the Shy Girl (or the Girl Who Feels Undateable).

That said, your rules are OK, mostly. Except for 4. Maybe this is my GenX attitude, but if someone brought a gift on a first date, that would seem freaky and desperate.

Another important dating rule for people on a circumscribed eating plan, in my opinion, is that you should either choose a dating activity that doesn't revolve around food, or that if you do meet for a meal, you should pick a restaurant where you know there will be something you can eat right off the menu. Giving complicated meal orders is an off-putter on the first couple of dates.

Anonymous said...

Well said.
My issue, somewhat similar, is how to talk with women who have been thin/attractive all their lives. I can't talk to women. I'm happily married, so dating is not an issue. I travel for my job alot, usually alone, to large meetings. I always sit at the meals and try to make conversation and be witty/gay, but I'm never invited to the after dinner functions of shopping, bar hopping, dancing, beach parties, etc. It's like I don't exist. They'll make plans all around me, but never include me. (Must be the invisible bubble)
I've lost a lot of weight, but am still fat (274 lbs). I simply can not and probably will not ever fit in with the thin/attractive. I don't understand their language, giggling, obession with hair/makeup. I have curly hair that I don't "do", I don't wear makeup. I can talk politics, religion, war, history, psych. I refuse to talk diet/weight. I will eat whatever I want in front of whomever.
A lot of men do talk to me. I am not a threat, I do not want to date them, I simply want the conversation and to make a friend. If they have no substance or intelligence, then they probably aren't sitting with me in the first place and that's great, 'cause I haven't wasted my time.
Good luck to you all. Love your posts.

Bea said...

Also run. My husband says men want to chase. It's instinctual. If he has to make an effort to get you, you are worth having. No brownies on the first date, unless he brings them. Men have been bringing us offerings, flowers and candy, for generations. It is as it should be. We are objects of desire just because we are women.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I was a little put off by the assumption that thin girls automatically dated, etc. I've been thin all my life, and I was a pariah until university. I didn't go on a date until I was twenty-two. There are more women with the lonely-onlies than you think.

Anonymous said...

This was a fabulous read. Kudos.

Cindy said...

Thanks for writing this. Especially the part that said "Because a former fat girl will always think this is her last date, the only date, the end of the line. It can take two weeks to get over that way of thinking." I realized in my last romance that I was thinking like that. I love that you put it out there. I don't feel so nutty anymore.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment that some of Us were emotionally stunted, but in my view, the problem is the self-consciousness, not the lack of experience, or experimenting, etc. Self-conscious people (of every shape and size) grow up to be self-absorbed adults and that is not very attractive to someone interested in a mutual and reciprocal relationship.

There need be no trick to dating or relationships -- if you have done the work to strengthen your shaky self enough to be able to see others in the world, and if you have some portion of energy left over to give someone else after whatever inner conflicts you have suck up their portion, a relationship is possible.

In my opinion, you don't need dating rules so much as a restoration of your Self in order to effectively engage the opposite sex.

And, definitely, no gifts on the first date.

FunnyBits said...

Wow, I never saw it so plainly as "every fat girl thinks this will be her last date" (paraphrasing). That is how I always feel...

hard to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Make sure that, if it's a girly thing ("I love to knit") it can translate to a guy thing ("I made a gray cable sweater for my father last Christmas that you'd look great in!")

NOOOOO!!! Bad example! You don't want a guy to think that you're "mom", and connecting a sweater you're knitting with him is too intimate on a first date. ("What? We're meeting for coffee, and already she's talking about making me a sweater?" Of course, that's not what you said, but that's what it sounds like.) Kafe Fassett is the only man I've ever heard of who was interested in knitting, and some things are too girly (read, boring) to talk about with men. Talk about current events, movies you've seen, and walks you like to go on.

Anonymous said...

I should add that you'll find a lot more out about a guy if you talk about movies, current events, etc. It's better to be single than to be with someone who doesn't share your values. Honest. I learned this from experience.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the posters who said no gifts on the first date (reeks of desperation) and no mention of knitting (boring to a man) and *definitely* no hints that you'll knit him anything.

And *never* call or email the next day. Men like to chase US!