By Gregory J. M. Kasunich
Rachael Kitterage had decided to get fat: a decision her friends and peers and family colleagues and coworkers and neighbors and doctors and distant acquaintances vehemently and passionately protested. Not obese or unhealthy, just
as she put it.
When she went public with the decision, the letters of objection and remonstration poured in, flooding her P.O. Box and forcing her to order her local postal branch to return all parcels to their rightful senders, much like her favorite Elvis Presley tune,
[to her, he would always be The King.]
Her e-mail inbox suffered a similar fate, and after a few days she had spammed her entire contact list, not out of spite, but pure necessity.
Illogical: an apparent cry for help
wrote the physiatrist.
Your cousin Jerome got fat; let me tell you, it was ugly.
wote Aunt Lisa.
Stupid: just plain idiotic.
wrote the Pastor Edwards.
Her only supporter in this matter was her now best friend and then boyfriend Samuel Stall. Fortunately, an accord was signed only a year ago when the twenty something couple agreed after a few weeks to call off any romantic interest in order to procure a protracted and perhaps life-long friendship.
[They only made out a few times, so you know…]
So far both parties seemed satisfied with the terms of the arrangement as they prattled on about everything and nothing over a boat of cheese fries and since Samuel was neither fat nor thin and therefore remained a perfect neutral party. When she pitched the idea to him upon its conception somewhere in the vicinity of two in the morning at some sort of all night diner just outside of Flagstaff, he paused only for a moment, until he got it, until he completely understood, and ordered a side of buttered waffles and bacon for her.
[Elvis wrote his best stuff when he was fat.]
Outside of this one anomaly of comprehension and empathy, the world was against her. Then again, maybe he was just being supportive as per the agreement.
She was set, her mind was made up weeks, even months ago, and only recently did her latent yearning mature into an unyielding personal obligation that could not and would not be quelled by even the most personal and logical of detractors. She was going to be plump and that was that. And why not? She had been thin all her life; the unsympathetic victim to a lively and over zealous metabolism leaving her trim despite conspicuous past attempts to fill herself out. Late night fast food runs and buckets of rich double chocolate peanut butter fudge ripple ice cream gobbled down with brain-freeze speed during 007 marathons seemed no match for her prodigious metabolism.
[The Kittridge Curse as it was known around her dinner table]
While her family would down mounds of mashed potatoes and mouthfuls of meatloaf, any outside observer might believe that the party of four was feigning consumption in order to throw off the Jones’s. Only her cousin Jerome, a man with an iron constitution and a stomach for success had any semblance of mass to him at all, and now he had enough for at least half the Kitterage family tree.
[Like a watermelon growing from the branches of an oak tree]
Honestly, she was tired of it all. She was annoyed with the looks, the leers and glances that men of all ages sent her way. She was done with the skimpy, form fitting clothing.
She wanted more out of life.
She wanted to look good in an oversized hooded sweatshirt.
She wanted love handles and a potbelly and a double chin. A double chin! Why have one when you can have two?
She wanted to wiggle and shake when she walked. She wanted a padonkadonk and by God she was going to have it.
So her training began. She was going to have to work up to the all-you-can-stomach buffets, but she would get there. Like Rocky mounting the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, Rachel ceremoniously set into an In-N-Out Double Double and Fries just outside the drive through window.
At night she did her best to slow her digestion though some form of meditation she saw on daytime television.
[If it worked for Oprah…]
And she would think about what she was doing, what was the attraction. She would second guess herself and think, just for a moment, that maybe everyone was right. But then, she would remember. She would recall all the people in her life, and how sadness seemed to flow from those who appeared happiest, and how they envied others with less. Rachel envied those with more. Not more money, or more time, or more love, but those with more of themselves and more than anything she envied the smiles. The warmth and sincerity that somehow weeviled its way to the surface of these portly people. Impossibly they had found it, the secret, the ability to endure ridicule and rejection. They possessed a resilience and forgiveness that she wished she had; that she wished the world would have.
And on that thought, she silently slipped down the stairs and with a sliver of light emanating from the refrigerator; she would muster the strength to down another six-pack of Jell-O pudding cups.