My mind wasn't on the conversation. My mind was on her fat.
She was so heavy I didn't recognize her. In fact, I walked right by her without saying a word. Only when I heard her voice, only when she stopped me to talk, is when I knew she was a former co-worker.
I remember her once telling me she "lived to eat." Apparently, she must be living very, very well these days.
She had a cane to help get herself around. She had no chin at all. It was totally replaced with fat from around her neck. I was absolutely shocked.
She looked like a tick ready to be popped.
I realize this sounds unkind, and I'm not trying to be, but I'm noticing the "fatness" around me more and more. It's become commonplace to meet up with someone I haven't seen for a while only to look at their new spare tire or newly acquired double chin.
I'm a cigarette smoker and therefore have no right to be judgmental. I'm just curious about a few things.
If you're overweight and reading this, I hope you won't mind me asking a few questions such as: Are we what we eat?
Let me explain that question by telling you what happened on the bus one morning last week.
I think one would expect bus drivers to lower the steps for the elderly or handicapped. They'll now also lower those steps if you're obese.
The bus driver lowered the steps for a huge woman carrying three or four plastic Kroger bags full of groceries. A guy sitting in a horizontal seat in the front got up to make room for her massive body.
Out of breath, the woman flopped her bags down on the empty seat next to her.
You can see through those plastic grocery bags, and I couldn't help but notice some of the contents in hers: potato chips, cookies, Pepsi (not diet), Snickers bars, Jell-O chocolate pudding, Cheez-It crackers.
I'm guessing the size of this woman wasn't brought on because of a medical condition. She's overweight because of what she buys at the grocery store. Someone please tell me: Am I right?
Here's another question: What's so great about buffets?
I always hear heavyset people talking about going to these things, then bragging about how many platefuls of food they had. Does it really feel good to get that full?
A few years ago, I got talked into going to a buffet with a friend who was and still is overweight. This was during our lunch hour.
I watched my friend fill up his plate with fried chicken, Salisbury steak, green beans, lima beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, macaroni and cheese and biscuits with lots of butter.
I had some of the Salisbury steak, tossed salad and wheat bread. That was enough for me.
After the first plate of food, my friend went back to the buffet for round two. This time around was a repeat of what was on the first plate plus a soup bowl full of yellow corn.
I frankly couldn't believe it. It was like he was eating for a family of five. Was it wrong of me to feel a little disgusted?
Just a few more questions and I promise I'll stop.
Please tell me: Isn't it tiring to be large? Doesn't it kind of wear you out?
I see overweight people huffing and puffing down sidewalks looking like it's a struggle just to get to the corner so they can cross the street, rest, then struggle on to get to the next corner. Isn't this exhausting?
A couple weeks ago I was in a small office building and the elevator was temporarily out of service. My appointment was on the third floor, so I took the steps.
When I reached my destination, standing in the stairwell holding on to the door was a large man completely out of breath.
He was sweating and breathing so heavy I seriously thought about getting out my cell phone and calling 9-1-1. In fact I asked him if he wanted me to.
He shook his head no as his heavy breathing eased up a bit. Finally the man said, "Just out of shape. Those steps were hell."
I stayed with him until I was sure he was alright. I was concerned for him. I mean, if you're overweight, aren't you afraid of having a heart attack or stroke?
I know. I'll stop with the questions.
I guess we all have our addictions. For me it's cigarettes, for others it's food. Unlike my former co-worker who I spoke with on Fountain Square that afternoon, I've never "lived to eat" and have never struggled with my weight.
When I think I'm getting a little too heavy, I cut back on the calories. Just don't eat as much.
My rule of thumb is basically this: When I take a shower in the morning, I want to stand in that shower stall and always be able to see my feet.
I can't help but wonder when the last time my former co-worker saw hers -- but that would be yet another question and I promised I'd stop.
Contact Larry Gross: firstname.lastname@example.org