Thursday, June 7, 2007

A River in Egypt

When I was in college, I remember sitting at the local pizza joint waiting for my pie looking out the window. It was dark out and there was a reflection in the mirror of some huge guy. I have no idea who he was but he was really big. Looked as big around as a California Redwood, with a round puffy face, flabby arms and a gentle smile on his face. To this day, I don't know who that was. It wasn't me. . . It couldn't have been me. . . that guy was humongous. If it wasn't me, who was it?

I got up, paid for my pizza, drove the 1/4 mile back to my dorm in my Chevette, took it back to my room and promptly inhaled it. Alone.

I'm sure. . . certain, in fact, that if I knew that guy I would have made sure he didn't eat that pizza. I would have talked to him about changing his ways. Could he possibly not know how he carried himself? That the world was watching, and staring and that kids were gawking? I felt bad for that guy, because he didn't know what he didn't know. He would know how he was killing himself and life as a fat man might be tough and unpleasant and most certainly unfair.

I've carried memories of that fat man and of that brief moment in my life with me all of these years. That moment is embedded in my brain, to remain there until I die. Why did I not do anything that day to stop this man from doing further harm?

Was it really any different than watching friends drink too much, night after night, or smoke too much or do other things to their bodies and choosing to do nothing? After all, we're in college and at least the beer was legal, but so too was the food. Does the alcoholic not know how to stop drinking? No, he needs help. We look down upon the celebrities that go into rehab for the second, third and fourth time. But who will help the fat man?

Every family member that tries to help is rebuffed for it's not the right time or it's not the right place. Friends hold their words until the right time, but still, if the fat man isn't ready, he can not change.

The fat man cries himself to sleep over a bowl of m & m's and cookie dough ice cream, feeling helpless in a world made for skinny people and not knowing how to stop.
To the fat man, the mirror is the enemy. He can not hide from the mirror. The mirror is the only one that can tell the truth.

As I cried myself to sleep that night, I tried to put the fat man out of my mind, for I could have done something, but chose not to. I awoke the next day, not a thought in the world of the fat man, not a mirror in sight.

22 years later, I found that fat man, and did what I should have done so long ago. Denial was no longer an option. . . just a river in Egypt.


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