The Efficacy of Threats and Pecuniary Competition

25 10 2007

This man

Courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

told me to update my blog more regularly. Or he will do this:

Courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

So, today, some thoughts on eating at parties, and looking good afterwards:

Lest I give the impression that I appreciate party guests only in proportion to how much food they dispose of, let me tell you about this paranoid reality I survived when I first started trying to lose weight. As at many middle-class American gatherings, talk at the parties I attended often revolved neurotically around diet and suitably cosmetic emaciation. Young wives paraded their newly trim husbands, boyfriends displayed on an arm their slim dates, such words as “yoga”, “pilates”, “South Beach”, and “Atkins” fell like so much chattered confetti on the luscious dip of pure sour cream while hands darted for the brownie squares. I felt the presence of a feral undercurrent around the snacks buffet.

The secret plan, I realized, was to give lip service, even despairing, sympathetic sighs, to some collective endeavor of health and svelteness while secretly sabotaging every other couple’s chances at it by bringing the worst possible foods to their parties and then leaving them from ostensible courtesy, begging off at the door with feigned politeness.

Oh but we couldn’t bring it back, really.

No, just return the pan when you’re done.

Our fridge is literally overflowing at home.

Beer, of course, with its cheap, casual calories, was a canny maneuver. In the covert sport to strand someone else with transfats, going the extra mile in strategy might involve ordering, at some late and raucous hour, a pizza whose remaining congealed slices the next morning would greet the couple balefully from an oil-spotted, half-open box of sagging sides. My ex had positively to wrest these leftovers from the deathgrip of my stringent standards of waste and into the trash, where truly they were healthier for us, and we were left only with our usual abstract guilt, instilled by years of grade school teachers, over starving orphans in Africa. During a single social season, we accumulated trays of homemade cookies, a nut-studded caramel apple five inches in diameter, chocolate truffles too generic to be worth the decadence, pound cakes from Zabar’s (leaden as a catapult boulder: does anyone actually eat these?)… was there no end, short of painful gym time, to which people would not sink to look better in a swimsuit than their social circle? Were our bodies, and not even the cut, brand, or quality of the clothes upon them, but their very composition, skin and muscle and fat, only another site for the endless pecuniary competition?

It’s all just one big superficial joke to you, isn’t it?

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