Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fatlish & Thinian, Part II

A week and a half ago, one of Us came to visit me for a day. We headed toward Chinatown but didn't quite make it into the heart of the tumult. We didn't mind. I had stuff I wanted from Pearl River, a bargain import store of fabulous things -- tai chi shoes, wind-up toys, quilted jackets, strange candies, happy Buddhas and sublime Buddhas, utensils and cloth. I was loaded up when we left only to be met on Mulberry Street by a man hissing, "Bags, bags."

"Where?" I asked. We were escorted to a Storefront That Shall Not Be Named (partly because it was so tiny and so innocuous that I can't remember the name) and slipped into a hidden door to a tiy room full of Dooney & Burke, Prada, Juicy Coutoure, Kate Spade, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. There were a number of us Caucasians crammed in there and the other were dressed (in white! white! skinny! skinny! jeans) and tans, discussing Chanel and the car on hold in those narrow streets outside in ways that suggested they didn't need to be buying fakes.

So I figure they're at least good fakes, right?

They were speaking Rich White Thinian (although slightly tacky, as I recall: did she have Big Hair?) while we two Fat Girlz were interloping on the fringe of Thinland among the accessories.

I'm calling all anonymous women Zelda this week, so Zelda and I walked out a hundred bucks poorer but richly happy with our booty. Added to the sublimely comfortable massive selection of shoes I'd gotten for 34 dollars and the intense massage for even less, and this was a happy woman who came back to the Bat Cave from an extremely rare day of escape.

It was the beginning of an intense ten days during which I found myself speaking a good deal of Thinian, broken as it may be.

I sent a picture of my booty to another one of Us and her response, which I'm paraphrasing, was the perfect dialect of Eyeorish Fatlish: "I admit I'm jealous of the bags. If I hadn't gotten sick I would have been able to come to New York and get bags, too."

Why is this Eyeorish Fatlish? Years of obesity's listless, unfulfilled, possibly amorphous hope motivate its gloom. Thinian would spin it a different way: "I can't wait to go to New York and do that." Doris Day's Thinian would add, "I wonder what the fashion in handbags will be by then?"

This exchange has weighed on me because it's so perfect in its way. Think negatively so that you don't get your expectations up. Expectations are very different from hope. Hope is just that, a whiff sent heavenward. An expectation is -- well, look at the word! "Expect": "to look forward to"; "to consider likely". An expectation is not only a calculated demand of someone or something else, it's a borderline you have to work toward reaching.

Fatlish doesn't have a positive aspect to the word "expect".

The day after our shopping expedition, my ex-sister-in-law came to New York with her new husband, a surprise for me. We had a couple of meals together and I showed them around the nabe. He has a literary bent, although it's not my literary bent, which can be a dangerous game. "Have you read X?" "No," I'd say. "You have to," and he'd dash to the used bookstore to buy it for me. I can get very insecure in this game but I know, at last, maybe, that I'm as well-read as I need to be in the reading I need to do.

He's also an aspiring writer, making produgious numbers of notes and quoting his writer friends with the abandon of confetti. "I only have one book in me," he would say, "and some day soon I'm going to write it. Zelda Smith says..."

I finally told him this is bullshit. You either write or you don't and collecting all the writerly quotes about writing is not going to get the book written. I had begun to make gentle fun of him before that but finally came out bluntly and told him the Deal. I also put him onto Julia Cameron so we'll all be hearing a lot from her in months to come.

He was speaking Fatlish in that one book to be written some day and the tiny notes he was taking now.

I was speaking thinian because it was mildly flirtatious. He is exactly the man I could go out with a couple of times. He'd be dazzled by me and I'd finally admit to being underwhelmed by him. This is not to say that...Zelwood...is not a fine man for Zelda II. Their passions are matched by being artistic, but his are literary and hers are in dance. No Trivial Pursuit involved.

To recognize someone I could date is Thinian in incomplete translation. To recognize our final incompatability is a complete translation.

Interstingly, I had a similar conversation with my childhood friend this weekend. He was comparing opera stars and operas and I don't know whatall when he turned the subject to how he disliked Beethoven in his 20's and came to revere him in his 30's while still disliking Wagner and Strauss, until he came to love them in his 40's. "Isn't that weird?" he asked. "Not at all," I answered. "We have to grow into some things. I couldn't make heads or tails of Emily Dickinson in my 20's. When I read her ten years later, it was, like, of course! this makes perfect sense."

Then he had to admit how little he reads. The conversation was, almost, a tie.

That flirting thing has to be sorted out from Fatlish joking-so-you'll-forgive-me and Thinian take-or-leave-it. I saw it a day or two later when I stopped into a local pet store to buy yet another ball for the tag team of loose-jawed Labs who keep losing Daisy's. "You want balls?" Zelwood II said. "I got balls. You want big balls or little balls?" "I want big balls, Zelwood, you know that. Big firm balls with a lot of bounce."

It's a constant joke, almost a schtick. It means nothing. He bagged up the balls and said, "Good to see you, young sexy lady" and I thought, Heh! I pulled off another heist. It was "young" that made it a Thinian heist for me. I laughed and thanked him, which is the Thinian response to such banter.

The last important Thinian experience in that week is somthing you'll have to wait to read between hard covers. It was confrontational and violent and I reacted in kind without one whit of regret. It made me realize, when my sponsor and I discussed it, what protecting a child means and how little I was protected and how little I protect that kid still in me.

You know: that Fat kid who dreamed over Jane Eyre and a box of grape popcycles?


Anne M. said...

Wow - you were a lot more observant in that little tiny back room full of purses than Zelda was. She was just looking for the ones that were hers.

You're right that Fatlish doesn't have expectations that are positive or hopeful. I hadn't thought of it in those terms until you used the words.

Bea said...

"How little I protect the kid that is still im me."

Well, yes, I guess I also need to protect the child within. How long does it take to get big enough to be able to protect the kid? Whoops I should have said mature enough. 250 pounds was not big enough. When do you know you are strong enough to protect the child within? How do you know? How do you seperate out the adult from the kid?

How do stylish women keep these pricey "bags" clean? What with putting my purse on the car floor, Wal-mart floor, various fast food floors, lumber yard floor, dirty grocery store carts and dropping it a dozen times in puddles and smow banks mine looks like it has been through the wars. Do they never let the darn thing leave their bodies? Is a mystery.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest component of fatlish is apologizing. We apologize for taking up space, for having thoughts, for having needs. We apologize to store clerks for making them do their jobs. We apologize for sitting in a theater seat and squish our shoulders together so tight we can hardly breath. We apologize for not being the thin person expected on first meeting in the flesh.
...I am so done with that apologizing shit.
Can't wait for your book.

Laura N said...

Great post, Frances. Hope the book is coming along well-- I like the tease that we have to wait to read between hard covers! Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Beulah: simple--they get new bags. The old ones never get a chance to get dirty.

Kn0x said...

Love reading your blog, Frances! Can't wait for the book. You are one woman who definitely speaks MY language, even though I don't really have a name for whatever language that is...

At least I understand that language.

On the purse thing--OP is right. They've got so many purses, they never have the opportunity to get grubby like ours do from repeated bashings on a daily basis. They probably use them once or twice and toss 'em.

Thanks again for a great read, Frances!