I’m at the most lovely resort on Miami Beach, watching my kids play in the water. Ari, my three-year-old, just dumped a bucket of water on Annie, who’s nine. He’s so proud of himself. Annie is turning to mock-attack him with a splash and a smile. There are a few fathers in the pool, splashing with their own kids. I was in for a while, towing the kids on a boogie board and teaching Ari to kick while holding his hands. It’s getting late, so I stepped out, giving the kids a few extra minutes, racing to get my shirt on before anyone looks my way.
It’s great to escape the New England winter for a while.
There are many beautiful people here. Women in string bikinis, men with six-pack abs. I also see lots of overweight and obese folks, like myself. No doubt many of the beautiful people are naturally that way, especially the men, I would guess. Some have surely had ‘enhancements’ here and there. I can see a few who’ve gone too far – the woman with Michael Jackson lips and the one with impossibly large breasts squeezed into an ill-fitting swimsuit.
Then there are the regular folks. Hardly stunning nor majorly overweight, they’re just average. There’s the Wall Street stockbroker I talked to, with the slight paunch and sinking portfolio. The slim but dowdy mom, enjoying her kids and the sun. The older couple near the hot tub, hiding behind floppy hats and sunscreen, their loose, leathery tanned skin on display. These are the normal, average-looking people I see everyday at the mall, the supermarket, or waiting to pick up the kids all over town. Nobody stares at them; no one turns away either.
Sometimes, when I’m bingeing on Mallomars or burgers and fries, I think I’d kill for their average looks. Not for their lives, or their money or success. Just to trade my freak body for theirs. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be average. To walk in a business suit with no worry that people hear my thighs rubbing. To sit in a chair without squeezing between the arms. To swim with my kids minus my Man-Boobs. To change in the locker room.
I have no illusions that weight loss surgery will turn me into Keanu Reeves or Tom Selleck (the respective fantasy men of Erica and my Mom). I just don’t want to be the fat guy anymore. I want people to see an average-looking Mike. Oddly enough, some already do: “I never realized you saw yourself as the ‘fat guy,’” my friend Arlene wrote after first reading my blog. “I certainly never did. It is amazing how we see ourselves and even more amazing how others see us.”
Should have realized that myself.