Authors: Christine Zolendz,Angelisa Stone
“Wow,” Angelisa said loudly, rolling her eyes. “If that’s true then I need to eat a
skinny-assed super model.”
There is no better cure for a midlife crisis than a road trip with your best friend and the laughter she brings you. And I’m not talking about just giggling with your friend. I’m talking about the convulsive hysterical laughter that makes you spill your drink all over the table, soda-burst from your nose and can’t catch your breath kind of laughter. It’s an emotional detox. It just has a way of stopping the current crisis dead in its tracks and cleanses the deteriorating soul—giving it a boost of verve and excitement.
I wiped at my eyes, “Hey, let’s take some food for the road!”
“Hell yeah,” Ang yelped.
Like two large-sized thieves, we wrapped up napkins full of goodies and stuffed scrumptious booty into our bags, giggling like teenagers, while people pretended to not see Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum fill their totes with rolls, drumsticks, and BBQ ribs.
On the way to the exit, we met our dreaded nemesis, those evil walk-through metal turnstiles. What the Hell was that about? Did this place really need to count the customers as they left? What did they think, that someone might stowaway in a bathroom stall for a night of Hog Heaven and heaping piles of potatoes and stuffing? Hmmm… not a bad idea.
Without a second thought, I pushed at the greasy metal bar and tried to nudge my way through the spinning death trap only to find that I was mortifyingly wedged in and couldn’t move. Seriously, I was halfway through my turn, and the bars just freaking
. My upper body jerked forward, but the lower part was stuck between the two slimy bars. Immediately, I could feel a nasty bruise spreading across my skin where the metal locked against me.
I was stuck!
My body exploded in cold sweats.
It was so freaking embarrassing
. I tugged and tugged. Nothing.
I turned my head to Angelisa in the turnstile next to me who was even more trapped than I. She had one leg raised over the bar, and she was struggling on the metal, making her look like she was getting to know the bar in the most biblical sense. Actually, knowing her, she might have been. Anything for a good thrill. Go get ‘em Ang!
Oh my God, maybe we
Jaws of Life!
It had to be my pocket or something that kept me sandwiched between the two iron rods of Hell. The turnstile had to be stuck on my pocket.
Who the frig puts turnstiles in All-You-Can-Eat buffets, anyway?
Then we both hear it.
It wasn’t whispered or hissed either. It was said out loud in front of the entire restaurant, silencing the room instantly.
Still wedged in the middle of the turnstile torture device, I glanced over my shoulder to peek at the name thrower.
A group of the most gorgeous men stared back at me. A flush of warmth crept across my cheeks and down my neck, splaying out across my truffle-stained chest. I yanked at the sleeves of my shirt. I’d started sweating profusely, complete with that humiliated, bunched up, wet armpit mess going on, and all I wanted to do was disappear.
The men stood grimacing and waiting for us to squeeze our asses through the tight enclosure, as if born into this world for no other purpose than to reveal our shame and disgrace to the healthier side of the world. My thoughts stammered and ran together.
I might need butter. Slather up my hips and ass with butter, and I’d slide right out of there
. Damn it, why was butter the answer to all of my problems? Fidgeting and squirming, I shuffled my way out, completely mortified.
A napkin full of smooshed éclairs fell wetly to the floor. Dark horrid laughter bubbled up around us, gaining quickly in volume and quantity. Fingers pointed. Whispered words snickered and clawed, pinched and bit. I felt less than human, without identity, without a true name.
Just one word to judge me.
I hated those whispers. I hated the judgmental words used by people who had no understanding of what it was like to be me. Why couldn’t people just keep their thoughts and assumptions to themselves? I hear enough of it when I go food shopping, clothing shopping. I hear it all the fucking time.
I hear it in my own damn head
. My voice is always the loudest of all.
The first man opened his mouth to say something, and a burning rage overcame me. It exploded like fire across my chest and lumped a white-hot ball of anger in my throat. I was not going to let this jerk say anything mean to me. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know us.
“Yes! We are overweight. Consider it addressed already and move the Hell on with your life.” I yanked at Angelisa, and we both tumbled out of the way of the turnstiles, free from their evil, metal clutches.
The man’s eyes ping-ponged back and forth between Ang and me. His lips pressed together in a grimace, looking as if he just might hurl at the unsightly view of the large ladies of lard. The second his mouth moved to open again, I held my hand up to his face.
Oh hell no, he doesn’t get to speak to us. He doesn’t get to judge me because of how I look
“Fatso is quite the remedial vocabulary word, dumbass.
. Is that the worse thing to be, really? So, I’m a nutritional overeater. It isn’t WHO I am.”
“I’m calorie challenged,” Ang chuckled.
“Gravitationally challenged,” I added.
“Height impaired,” Ang joked. Isn’t that what overweight people were programmed to do? Add humor when reality was too depressing and mortifying to face?
“Well fed,” I continued.
“Don’t forget ‘heroically proportioned’.”
“No, not even close, ladies. You’re both just plain fat. It’s disgusting. Now get the fuck out of our way.”
The men laughed and walked past us, exiting the restaurant. The rest of the room still sat quietly watching us.
Two fat ladies.
My body felt as if it wanted to collapse in on itself, just curl up into a big fat ball and hide. I tugged at my shirt and tried my best to straighten up. Suddenly, my eyes met Angelisa’s, and I knew she was just as humiliated as me. Our eyes darted away, not even able to share in our mutual mortification, and scanned the crowd of customers that were still watching.
Faces of pity and disgust.
Judgment and revulsion.
My chin dropped to my chest. My shirt, still smeared with half the food from the buffet table mocked my shame. It hurt just as badly as when I saw my husband with another woman.
How the Hell did my life get like this?
Why do these people have to judge us just because we looked like this?
They didn’t know us.
They didn’t know.
What it’s like.
Going through a hysterectomy. Gaining weight because of hormones.
Watching family members suffering with cancer and not being able to help.
Being so overwhelmed by life you have no control over anything anymore.
And the only thing that makes you feel good
For just a moment
There was a heavy silence that lay on our shoulders as we walked back to the Jaguar. The stupid group of men stood two cars down from us, ogling the car. Of course they were. And let’s not even talk about the fact that when I went to get in, I stuck my tongue out at the lot of them and flipped them the finger.
Let’s pretend I had class.
“We should write a book about this stupid humiliating adventure,” Angelisa hissed.
“If I wrote that scene, those little boys would have liked curvy women. And my heroine would be badass. Not some chubby, old, frumpy me,” I stated, honestly.
“Bull, you would have killed them all,” Angelisa said.
“True, I would have. I do enjoy killing people in books—especially people who deserve it. Fictional justice, I like to call it,” I explained with a faint smile.
I popped the glove compartment to the Jag with a smile. Ang was right, killing people felt so fucking good. I grabbed one of the Glocks hidden inside and handed it over to her. “Let’s make them wish they liked curvy women!”
“Now you’re talking,” Angelisa said with a smirk.
The tinted windows slid down. The men were still in their pathetic little group, laughing, not realizing what little time they had left to live.
I slipped my body out of the window easily; my long hair fanned out in long blonde strands across my face, blowing with a gust of warm, summer wind. “Hey boys!” I called.
Without another warning one guy’s head exploded with blood and brain matter, splattering across his shitty little Honda. Dark fluids spewed out of the gash and dripped heavily from his mouth. My vision narrowed, and my brain hyper-focused on the feel of the gun and its power. The heat of the metal in my hands after it fired, the buzz of white noise filled my ears with its eruption. The bones in my wrist and the knuckles in my fingers vibrated with the explosion. I fired again.
Angelisa whooped and hollered and laughed as the bloody bodies staggered and fell limply to the ground.
“What the Hell? Are you okay?” Angelisa’s voiced snapped me back into reality.
“Huh? What?” I blinked my eyes into focus. Tilting my head past her, I realized the car of weight-prejudice idiots had already left. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just daydreaming about mass murdering people.” And for the first time ever, my imagination didn’t make me feel any better.
I rubbed at my face. “You know that was completely mortifying, right? Let’s just get it out there and admit it.”
“Yeah,” she whispered.
“The only people who can change this is us.”
“But I really need a cupcake,” Angelisa whined and sighed.
In the small console of the Jag, Angelisa’s phone rang. “Oh crap,” she said, looking down at her phone, her eyes flashing with fear. “It’s my brother.”
Twitter: The food. The food. The food is on fire. We don’t need no water… let mother effing calories burn. #BurnBrowniesBurn
“You’ve got to answer the phone Ang,” Christine said, handing my cell to me.
“The Hell I do,” I said, pushing the phone away. I was going to avoid my brother at all costs from this point on.
“You said he was out of town; he has no idea that we ‘borrowed’ his Jag,” Christine encouraged, sliding the answer bar over and putting the phone to my ear.
Glaring at her and reluctantly taking the phone, I stammered, “Hey Jake! How’s work?” I was being unnaturally joyful and giddy. He’d be able to see right through it if I didn’t tone it down a bit. Typically, I was a morose and completely crabby crotch chunk.
Hitting speaker so Chris could hear our conversation, I held the phone back. “Angelisa, I need your help. I left a file on the backseat of my car. Emily, my assistant will be at your house in about 15 minutes to pick it up. I need her to fax me that paperwork ASAP.”
Christine and I simultaneously widened our eyes and slowly glanced to the backseat where one lone manila file folder sat on the seat. How did we not see it when we were packing this exorbitant, tiny metal box to the hilt? Immediately, I hit END on the phone, hanging up on my brother.
“What the Hell are we going to do? How did we not see that fricken thing?” I screamed, swerving over onto the median.
“Shit Ang, relax. It’s going to be okay,” Christine said, grabbing the wheel and yanking us back between the white lines of the highway. “I did see it. I moved that folder three or four times, thinking it was directions or something you needed.”
“He’s going to kill me. You don’t know Jake. We did not think this through. We’ve got to go back home. Everything about this trip is screaming ‘go back.’ Everything,” I panicked, slowing down and getting over a lane. “Let’s just get off at the next exit, explain what we did, and head home. I mean seriously, after the turnstile catastrophe and now this… who the heck are we kidding? We’re in over our heads.”
“Listen to me, we are doing this… I mean, we are already doing this. We are not turning back. Call him back, tell him you got disconnected, and then offer to fax it for him yourself.”
The pleading look in Christine’s eyes told me that there was no way I was going to convince her to turn around. As much as I felt like the universe was telling me that we didn’t belong on an adventure like this, Christine’s eyes were telling me that she needed it more than anything in the world.
“Fine,” I said, hitting SEND on my phone. Waiting for the phone to connect, I said, “I don’t know how you keep getting me to do these things.”
“Oh Ang, we’ve only just begun.”
“Hey Jake, sorry about that. Phone always disconnects in the laundry room. Something about the reception in this part of the house. Listen, I have got to get Evan to a doctor’s appointment. I’ll fax the papers for you…”
“You can’t. There are really important documents in there… not meant for you to see.” As soon as the words filled the miniscule vehicle, Christine reached for the file. Her butt obstructed my view—giving new meaning to rear-view mirror. I immediately started cracking up and slapped her ass. She yelped, banging her head on the sunroof.