The scene: Last night, approximately 9:45 p.m., a friend’s Brooklyn living room
The occasion: A small group gathering
The players: A few acquaintances, a couple closer (but still new-ish) friends, and me (Elle)
The details: We mingled in the dim light, chatting in the warmth of good people and intimate conversation. Everything we did had the quality of lingering – sitting on but not nestling into the couch, holding empty tea mugs but failing to make the final move of depositing them in the sink to be washed, eating half of a brownie or placing small portions of chips and salsa on our snack plates – just enough to nibble.
The event: I had not been home since I left for work that morning at 8:15, and I had not eaten dinner. So I snacked a little. Some chips and salsa – not too bad. A dairy-free brownie? One (or two small?) won’t hurt; after all, I had run three miles that morning…
A friend – busy with a full-time job, graduate school, a thesis, and marriage – made the first move: “I have to go and try to get some sleep. I got up at 5:45 this morning.”
Through a bit of tortilla chip and salsa, I reply, “I’ve got you beat, lady. I wake up around 5 every morning.” A slight exaggeration – the first alarm goes off about 4:45, but I usually roll out about 5:20. Still.
Another girl – a new acquaintance, someone with whom I do not foresee any connection – chimes in, “Oh, gosh. No. You do that by choice?”
Friend says, “But you work out in the morning, right? Do you at least try to go to bed by 10?”
I reply, “I try to go to bed by midnight. I mean, tonight, I’m not even going to get home until 10, and then I have to finish up some things, and…”
Acquaintance interjects, “But that’s not healthy.”
I shrug, “I really have no other choice….”
That was the actual exchange. Here is the addendum my imagination has attached.
Acquaintance squints at the plate of chips I’m eating and says, “Well, if you didn’t eat that stuff, you wouldn’t have to work out. I never work out and look at me, I’m trim. You just need to eat better.” Cloud of judgment descends.
I’m still thinking about this imaginary conversation as if it had taken place. As far as it concerns my self-image, it did.
*This scene brought to you by the conflicted machinations of an overweight and overanalyzing girl’s mind.