Sunday, 10 February 2019

Bariatric Divorce by Naomi Elana Zener

He took note that the kitchen light was on. Hopping up from his yoga mat in his serenity garden, Albert bounced like an eager bunny toward the house. Upon entering the kitchen, he slammed the door with the ferocity of a jungle cat. Not a lion, but definitely something more powerful than a hyena.

“Honey, where are my Quinoa bars? I left out a plate of them on the counter this morning, and when I came in to drop the kids off at the pool, they were gone.”

Alice, Albert’s wife, was standing in the middle of the kitchen busily whipping up a fresh batch of waffles to compliment the baking pain of chocolat in the oven. Upon seeing Albert standing in his yoga speedo, dripping sweat on her bacteria-free, pristine floor, her nostrils flared. Setting down the bowl, careful not to spill any batter, she placed her hands on her hips, and took a fighter’s stance—legs hip-width apart, stretching the nearly threadbare nightie, barely containing all of her nearly three hundred pounds of loving—ready to spar with Albert. Skinny Albert. Mostly newly skinny Albert.

Albert had been a Rubenesque man who never met a super-sized McDonalds meal he didn’t like. But, with his hips bordering on replacement territory, knee meniscus weary of bearing the load for another mile his shoes would walk them in, and a collection of several cliques of plaque vying to overtake the precious little free real estate left in the caverns of his coronary arteries, he knew it was time to lose weight. At 54, Albert bar mitzvahed himself into becoming a healthy man.

“Do I look like I ate your fucking quinoa bars?” Alice asked rhetorically.

Albert said nothing.

“You come in here, with your exercise-fresh B.O. and accuse me of eating your hay? That’s rich.”

Alice shoved past him to get some crème fraiche and strawberries out of the fridge.

“No, what’s rich is the savory, succulent aroma of pain au chocolat, wafting through the open window into the yard where I’m trying to complete my sun salutations. Jesus Christ woman, can’t you stop baking for forty-five fucking minutes?” Albert wailed.

“Sorry Mr. Paleo. It’s not my fault that you deprive yourself. Maybe if you ate something more than a Dukan-Atkins-South Beach approved bowl of air, you wouldn’t be so miserable.”

Although his body had adapted quite nicely to the dietary changes he’d made, Albert’s olfactory bulbs hadn’t lost their keen ability to dissect the constituent ingredients in Alice’s Ina Garten-worthy cooking concoctions and baked confections. His nose was his albatross.

Alice threateningly waved a hot, melt-in-your-mouth croissant in Albert’s face, forcing him to recoil. He backed away from her and sat down at the kitchen table, beads of sweat still pouring down from his furrowed brow. The smell of Alice’s baking was killing him. With each inhale, he feared he’d consume unwanted calories from carbs, triggering weight gain. This caused him much chagrin since he’d lost one hundred pounds. Now, weighing in at a healthy one hundred and fifty seven pounds and six ounces, Albert was adamant that he’d never be called Fat Albert again. Sitting in the shadow of his wife, almost half her size, he cowered in fear that he tried to hide behind the bravado of a machismo, newly athletic alpha-male.  No matter how hard he tried to come off as a fearsome tiger, he usually failed, and at best, his wife would mock him on each occasion as being a milder version of Puss in Boots.

“Ever since you decided to lose so much damn weight, you’ve become a crankenpuss. It’s ‘do you know how many calories are in this?’ and ‘I just ran so many miles!’ NONSTOP. You’ve had a one-track mind. And, now you want us to both go keto?! I’ve had it up to here with your clean living crap.! Keep it up and I’m gonna divorce you,” Alice threatened.

“Maybe if you joined me in my quest, you could be…”

“Just as miserable as you? No, thanks.” Alice devoured a pain au chocolat in one giant bite.

“Did you even chew?”

“Fark ewe,” Alice garbled, licking the excess chocolate left on her lip.

“Do you have any idea how many calories were in that?”

“No, but I bet you can tell me. Here’s a little math problem for you to solve. If I baked two dozen croissants, all containing 70% dark chocolate, each one roughly the same shape and size, and I intend to eat all of them in one sitting, minus the one I just ate, how many calories do you think I’ll burn when I kick your ass for telling me how many calories I’ll have consumed?”

Albert sat at the table stunned. Alice proceeded to eat the second croissant in the batch.

“Take your time. I’m not going anywhere. But, just know, I can eat a lot faster than it takes you to transition from Downward Dog into Warrior One.”

“How can you eat yourself to death like this?”

“Listen Al, I’m happy with who I am. I like myself. And, I like food. If I want to eat a carrot, I’ll put it in a muffin. If I want to walk, I can take a stroll down the grocery store aisles. I never asked you to lose weight—you chose to do that. And now, while you hang out with your fellow grass munching, meditating compadres, with your faces pressed against restaurant windows, licking your lips upon seeing everyone laughing as they consume their Linguine a la Vongole with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, you must know that they are laughing at you. Well, maybe they aren’t, but I certainly am.”

“But, if you just exercised a bit more, and stopped eating so many carbs, you could lose weight and be happy.”

“Did you lose your hearing when you lost all your weight? I just finished saying that I am happy. When living the way I do no longer makes me happy, I’ll make that change. But, watching just how happy you’ve become after doing a total one-eighty, depriving yourself all the time, I know I’d never be happy living like you.”

“I want to be happy together,” Albert whined. “I think you’d love the biking, running, kayaking…”

“Albert, now you’re just insulting me. Have you seen the size of my ass lately? You expect it to fit into your itty bitty kayak? Come on.”

“You like to walk. We could start slowly and take evening strolls together.”

“Or, you could eat a cupcake. Here.” Alice shoved the plate of croissants at him. “Start with one of these.”

Albert stared at the plate, his mouth watering and his hands trembling. The sweating, which had stopped once the cool air conditioning enveloped his body, had started up again as he used every bit of strength he had to keep his hands from grabbing one, or ten, of the delicious treats.

“Don’t start eating on my account. I don’t want to be resented by you or ever blamed for you gaining weight.  Babe, I think it’s time we separate. I’m never going to stop eating or enjoying it, and you’re never going to start.  Kale is not the new chip, and quinoa is crap. Your weight loss drove a wedge between us.”

“But, I still love you.”

“Maybe, but you love being skinny more. I’m not playing your game of bariatric brinksmanship anymore. I want a divorce.”

© 2019. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

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