Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2000

MARY ANN FITZMORRIS / L’Observateur / September 17, 2000

Yesterday I asked my husband one of those questions that are so perilous, it may as well be a mine field. These types of queries always come fromthe female and settle on the frightened male. My husband no longer accepts such interrogatives, but this day he could see my earnest was real, so he very carefully obliged.

“I’m sorry to keep asking you this question,” I began sheepishly, “but does it look to you like I’m losing weight?” He studied me briefly and replied, “Yeah, I guess, in your face mostly. You always lose weight first in your face.”My husband is right. Any weight loss I register usually occurs first in the face. The trouble is, by the time it filters down to the rest of me, I’ve already started gaining it back at the top.

This frustration is common; so common that people over the age of 40 should completely eliminate the phrase “When I shrink back into it” from their memory.

There was a big family wedding over the weekend which required really dressing up. I asked a number of women what they would be wearing andtheir comments were remarkably consistent. Some variation of “Whatever I canfit my fat butt into,” was the universal reply.

My son has caught onto this distressing phenomenon. For some shindig not long ago he mused, “Mom, every time we go any place you need something new to wear. What are you doing with all these dresses?” I could see myhusband approved of his brazen naivete.

I explained that by the time Mom would wear that dress again, she’s already grown out of it. He walked off shaking his head, coincidentally, just like his dad.

My husband’s disgust is also borne out of the frustration of watching me construct a garment each time I need one. “Why don’t you just go buy one?” he pleads.

That answer to that one is simple. Sewing allows me to engage in Sizing Denial. I haven’t got the slightest idea what size I wear; I just know I’ve never encountered it in the store. Any shopping trip yields only one thing: an overwhelming urge to go home and consume an entire pizza.

No, shopping after a certain size is to be avoided, in my opinion. In fact, after a particular point, manufacturers should include on the tags, not only size, but clearance requirements. And I’m not referring to a sale. Clearance is becoming a noticeable problem for me and a few women I know.

Unsuspecting children have actually been knocked off balance by moms who have miscalculated the necessary clearance for their rear end. Whenever I send a drink crashing to the floor that was perched on a chair at just the right level, I think how handy it would be to have those beeps that herald the movement of heavy equipment.

One of my friends could really benefit from such a thing. She has some sentimental china hanging from a wall in her home. It has been non-strategically placed right near a door, where a sudden shift in movement from an amply sized person can have tragic results. This lovely display has shrunk every time I see it.

Fortunately, such embarrassments have occurred in the privacy of her own home. On a recent visit to my house, however, she was not so lucky.Several of us were sitting outside in the ubiquitous white resin chairs. When she got up, the chair arms were ensnared on her hips, and the chair rose with her! This sort of thing can do wonders for a person’s self-esteem, but she took it in stride, gracefully joking about that being the final, convincing indication that she needed to go on a diet.

I chuckled along with her, thinking to myself how glad I was that she didn’t get the wobbling dining room chair that will someday soon humiliate me more than its unsuspecting victim.

This woman, though, would have taken that with a giggle as well. Her self-image is so secure that she could even withstand the answers her husband could give her, should she ask him about her weight. That is, if he was dumb enough to answer them.

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