Chapter Ten - Fat is Funny
2009, Present Day - Mom is 60, Scott is 35, I am 32
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email about a funny Halloween pumpkin. It turned out that it was a picture of a big, fat woman, naked, with a huge pumpkin painted on her ass. Fat is funny. What I don't understand fully is why people send ME these emails. I'm fat. And I don't mean that in a self-destructive way, but I am overweight, and I'm fully aware of it. And I don't particularly mind it at the moment. I don't want to be fat forever, but I do know I could be way worse off in the fatness arena. Someday, when I don't feel so tired, and when I'm damn good and ready, I'll lose the weight I want to lose. And I'll do it my way, and in my time.
But the thing is, the person who sent me this latest email, knows about my brother. He knows the story, and how much agony it is causing me. He's one of the only people in Vegas who I've told. His name is Ron. I met him in my poker room. He's a truck driver who lived in Vegas for a really long time and used to serve on the Metro Police force here. He's a big, tall man with a giant heart. But he's also waivering a little on the "dirty old man" scale as far as his interest in me. I would love to be just friends, so that's what we are, but I know he harbors other feelings, and it makes me uncomfortable. Anyway, he sends me funny, or sweet, or interesting emails all the time from the road, and most of the time I like them. But this one, with the fat-ass pumpkin lady, irritated me. Maybe I'm just cut from a different cloth, but isn't it rude to send this kind of email to a fat woman with a REALLY fat brother? It's the kind of thing where, for instance, if I had a retarded brother, I don't think anyone would send me funny retarded-people emails. It's just too sensitive. There is a bit of a double-standard here though, because if I chose to send out a funny retarded-people email, being that I had a retarded brother, that would be okay. If you're in the situation, you have every right to cope with it how you please, whether that be laughing, crying, or throwing things. But other people should think twice about sending those emails, as it is highly probable someone could, and should, take offense. But fat is funny I guess.
It has been several years since my brother has travelled more than 15 miles from his home. It has been several months since he entered a grocery store, or a bank, or a restaurant. The way people look at him is so painful for him, he'd rather just stay in. They blatantly stare, point, and laugh. Their faces contort in disgust. They pull their children closer to them. And the teenagers, filled with cockiness and empty of tact, just walk right up to him sometimes and tell him he's fat. Like he doesn't know. Little children point and say "wow". Older people stop in their tracks to watch him pass. Almost never does anyone ask his name, or say "hello, how are you today". No one ever looks in his eyes. It's like he's some sort of monster. Or like he's deformed. But he's just fat. And I think people are scared of that. Scared that they, too, could turn out that way. I actually saw a woman once who, after seeing my brother in the store, took all the cookies and butter and bread out of her cart, right in the condiments aisle, put it all on the floor, and said loudly, "I'm gonna make me a salad instead...I don't wanna become THAT".
So, Scott stays at home most of the time, and I don't blame him. His addiction is one that's worse than any other I've encountered, ever. And I've encountered, and participated in, a lot of addictions. Every other addiction can be treated and walked away from. An alcoholic never has to drink another drop if he doesn't want to, a coke addict never has to snort another line. But every day, three times a day, my brother has to stare his addiction in the eye, participate in it, and overcome it, in order to survive. All people must eat to live. But no one needs beer or meth to live. It's not fair, really, but a lot of things in life aren't fair, I suppose. But often times I wish Scott was an alcoholic, or meth addict, a sex addict, or a shopoholic, addicted to video games, or a prescription drug junkie. Anything but food.
I wish my brother was a normal-sized person for several reasons. But mostly, because I want him to feel comfortable going places. He has stayed away from our family reunions and events for years. He misses out on so many experiences because he's fat. He can't sit in normal chairs at a restaurant, in a bar, at a concert, on a plane. He can't sit for very long anyway, because of the pain it causes him to be in that position. He can't stand for very long either because his knees no longer have cartilidge in them. Most people Scott's size are actually bed-ridden. I am thankful every day that he hasn't gotten to that point fully, but it isn't far away. He does spend most of his time in bed these days, sleeping or watching t.v., or reading, or listening to music. But he CAN get up, and he does. But mostly to get something to eat.
When I look at my brother, the first thing I see is not fat. I see his eyes, his face, his smile, his heart. I see his pain. I see his hopes. I see HIM. Today, Scott is a very compassionate person. He's giving, loving, and smart. He's a businessman, a music lover, a reader, an intellectual. He cares so much about Mom and I, and his few friends. Scott is an amazing person. He wants to be an inspiration to other people, especially kids, who are overweight, when he, at last, loses his fat. The sad thing is, no one sees Scott for who he is, because all they see is a big, huge, ginormous, fat man. They think he must be lazy, they think he must eat ten pizzas a day, they think he is dirty and sloppy, and probably smelly, though no one ever gets close enough to check. They're missing out on his smile. They're missing his hugs. They're missing his love. They're missing his brilliant mind. Because he's fat. No person, for any reason, has ever felt the kind of humiliation and utter discrimination that Scott has endured.
For me, getting fat-emails, or having someone point out a fat person walking by, just for the laugh of it, is disheartening. All I think is, "my brother's bigger than that". And then I go inside my own head and recount our past, our struggles. And inside my head, I go to another place. Scott's funeral. I think about how many people it will take to carry his casket. Then I remember he wants to be cremated. I wonder if there is an oven big enough, or if they will have to chop him up first. I wonder what will happen to my Mom, how she will take it. I wonder what will happen to me. I wonder if I'll make it, or if this will truly be the end of me too. I wonder how many regrets I will have, and how much guilt. I wonder what else I can do to save Scott, and I come up empty-handed. Good thing no one else is in my head, because fat is funny, and I don't think anyone could handle what it is I wonder about.