“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”
— Stephen Fry
What responsibility do we have to stay hot? I wrestle with that one, amigo. It’s like, Arle is super hot to me, but am I super hot to her? She still looks like she’s 25/ rocking the lean, tall body/ forever legs/ her western saloon lady night boobs/ her face shining and changing as I switch angles slightly around her in the bed/ shifting this way I see freckles emerging that I never saw before/ sliding that way I spot the way that her red hair lays softly upon the edge of her eye and as she blinks she gently reminds me that her presence is exquisite to mine. And that I am helpless, physically, before her.
We collide and I am that cheesesteak eater high school kid in husky jeans again and I have landed in a Penthouse. What the ever loving fuck is happening?!!?? I am dreaming! Long live the dirt weed I smoked! Long live the teenage fantasy boys! Viva the centerfolds who embrace los stoner solitarios!
For me, I touch the electric wires of her thunderstorm sex lightning and I am rescued from a wasted life of longing.
But what is it for her, you know?
What does the older guy on meds with new fat owe the younger hot wife?
She will tell you, straight up, not a fucking thing. She will tell you that because that’s what she tells me too, and even though it has taken me a long time to understand that she means it/ because fat kid syndrome never goes away and you end up feeling like you are on display, naked, in a glass case being wheeled up and down the aisles at Walmart even when you’re just walking across the street to the Post Office or whatever. She tells me that I am hot to her. The best looking man she has ever seen, she says, and I guffaw, but I float up into the sky too.
She doesn’t try to dress me the way she likes a man to look. Ever.
She never asks me to do my hair this way or wear dumb ass shirts that are in nice colors instead of the constant emo black I wear because I hate my body and want to hide it in the shadows.
She rips at my hair like a goddamn mountain woman and we bang teeth kiss and I can’t hardly believe in this fortune I have stumbled into, the fact that this incredible woman has something so fucked up with her eyes that when she looks at me… and only at me, people!… she sees Ryan Reynolds with his shirt off instead of drowned Jack Black being fished up out of the lake of our bed, all puffy and wide-eyed and pale.
Once I got ripped and then it went away and I don’t know what to do now.
Do I owe it to her to match her mega physique with one of my own?
Or do I just meet her half way, try to make better choices when I’m holding a garden salad in one hand and six pounds of hot stromboli in the other?
Why does our physical appearance control us so much? Am I even real? Is it possible that I am a figment of some kind of conscious imagination? I don’t feel gross. I don’t feel flabby and weighted down by the torso of a fucking cow, but then I see myself in the mirror and I collapse and die.
But then she wants me again.
Who has that?!
Who gets that?!
I don’t have any money. I don’t have anything much at all except for a killer Battle of Gettysburg book collection which she doesn’t give a flea’s tit about.
It can’t be my personality, can it?
Is love possible in this body I have created out of medicine and ice cream and mowing lawns (but obviously not enough) and housing Lebanon bologna slices right out of the deli bag like little kids hitting the carrot sticks at a nursery school?
What would happen if I got ripped?
What would happen if I lost 50 pounds?
What would happen if I died tomorrow, just driving to work, taken out by a crop duster that fell right out of the sky?
I can’t figure out if the meds I take make me fatter or not. I guess they do. They said they might. The nurse practitioner, she told me back at the start of me and her meeting, she said that weight gain might be a thing. And, of course, I knew right then and there that if there was a chance that I might gain weight then I was absolutely going to gain some freaking weight.
Some people don’t put on a pound, she tried to reassure me, half-assedly. Some actually lose weight on this drug.
That last part tasted like horse shit in my mouth but I didn’t say anything. I wanted her to write me the prescription and I wanted to get the hell out of there and go to the pharmacy and be done with it.
Time happened then, as it does, and the drug kicked in after a few weeks and I began to feel better. Lighter. Less inclined to want to defend my own self against the rampant injustices of simply being alive/ more inclined to just stare at an idiot instead of say anything to them.
I started not caring so much about the slow drivers in front of me (although they can still fuck off and slide into a cornfield from the road and I won’t care). I began to want to create stuff again, more writing and maybe even some art. I didn’t mind the early mornings nearly as much once the meds began to settle in to my blood and all. Things that once gave me a real bolt of anxiety, I just stopped even recognizing them as much. It wasn’t a miracle or whatever. It was big pharma taking what is natural and true and altering it with man-made controls. But that’s what I was after, right?
And that’s what I got for the most part.
But I packed on some pounds too, I think. It’s hard to be certain though because I’ve also stopped exercising/ I eat like shit/ I drink some red wine/ and I dump sugar in my morning coffee until I can feel it with my spoon. Like a missing body being poked with a long rod in the swamp.
I found it! I found that poor motherfucker over here, boys! Yee haw!! YA-HOOOO!!
So, now what?
I feel a whole lot better mentally and I am a whole lot better than I have been in a long time. But I should probably do some inner-mint-dick fasting at some point, huh? Give up the cheese. Say goodbye to tacos with kids in the kitchen when I rock 77 tacos in a row as I culturally appropriate the fuck out of some original Mexican village music off of Spotify to lend the evening a more authentic feel.
It spins me, all of it, off in wonderful directions.
I ask the kids if they want any salsa. I offer up spoonfuls of Walmart olives and if they don’t want them I slurp them like cough syrup, son.
Who wants guac?!
Who wants hot sauce?!
There’s no Sriacha anywhere any more, Charlie! The world is a shit hole, I told ya!!
The brass sections announce the marching of the morning rooster or the bandits arriving or the beautiful daughter of the wealthy cruel el calde!
Who wants to take a shot of ground meat fat, mi perritos??!!
There are no takers but I feel so good.
So I tilt my head back and I dump it down my hatch and it is warm and greasy and heavy like human blood and the rush I get is so fast and hard, like life and death all at once.
What a dinner. What a family.
Los tacos de dios!!
My arteries tighten the reigns on my smile so that it flashes so big and so bright and so beautiful as I eat wads of fallen cheese off of Charlie’s plate in a spring rain that never happened.
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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattlling around his noggin.