"What's that?," I smiled.
He bounced me on his knee for a minute and held me at my waist and ribs.
"My daughter is already a lot bigger than you."
I only laughed because I thought that he was joking. I knew his daughter was only 10 years old. How big could she possibly be?
But, I could tell his was serious. "Well, does this worry you?," I said. "I mean, for her health....she can't be as tall as I am?"
"No, she's definitely never going to be as tall as you. But she's a lot bigger. Maybe 20 pounds bigger. She could hurt you."
With those words, I froze for a second. Hurt me? Again, flashes of potential stepmotherdom-hell came careening through my head.
"What do you mean she could hurt me? Is she violent?"
"No, no," he said. "It's just going to be weird, that's all. When I was doing your laundry the other day, I noticed that your sizes just way smaller than hers. Even your bras. She was wearing your size when she was 7."
"Oh," I said. And suddenly felt sad. Granted, I'm not a big girl, but I am a grown woman. It occurred to me that it is already difficult to be a young girl without a mother. It's inherently more difficult to be so young and already struggling with weight issues. Still, I couldn't get it out of my mind that this child had the potential to harm me, physically or otherwise. It seemed odd that JJB mentioned this.
"So, why did you bring this up?," I asked JJB.
"Well, I was sitting here thinking that I hope that you never get fat. I don't think I'll be able to deal with it. Maybe we can put it in our pre-nup agreement that you can't gain more than 5 pounds than what you weigh today?"
For the record, JJB was the most untoned man I've ever dated, and at least 40 pounds overweight. I was already having visions of getting back to the States and getting him connected with a personal trainer and nutritionist. This was not because I wanted to "change him" but because it did bother me that he simply wasn't healthy. More directly, it bothered me that he wasn't able to physically keep up with me. When you start talking about spending the rest of your life with someone, you start to seriously consider what this will really mean. If he couldn't keep up with my camel riding and stone step-skipping now, would he keep up with me 20 years from now? Realistically, would I be towing him (and his two morbidly obese children) around the world? I was worried. I was also worried that if I did decide to have children with this man, would they have to deal with weight issues, too? He had already explained to me that both of his parents were close to 300 pounds each, and both in poor health. Was I being shallow, or did I have a right to be concerned? Needless to say, I struggled with this...
And yet, and yet, and yet!--here he was warning me not to get fat? I wasn't defensive, but I was a little confused. I explained to him that the women in my family all age incredibly well, and that I really wasn't genetically-equipped to gain or carry a lot of weight. In a fair response, I gently asked if he would be willing to work on his health to be in better shape? I joked that we should put this in the pre-nup, too. Fair is fair, right? Quite to form, he seemed ambivalent, and dismissed the whole thing by saying that he really didn't want a pre-nuptual agreement at any rate.
In light of all of this, the most bizarre moment came a few weeks later when we were getting dressed to go out one night. I had been consciously doing everything I could to make sure that I ate in a balanced and meaningful way every day. Given my host of food allergies, this was difficult to do, and I was often falling short of my daily caloric needs. I was losing pounds, but I also wasn't working out as much as I normally do. At one point, I walked by the mirror in our room, stopped, and examined the shape of my ribs in the mirror.
"I think I'm getting a little thin," I said aloud--to JJB, to myself, to the world, etc. It was just rhetorical statement. It didn't mean anything. And yet, oddly enough, JJB turned to me and said, "Actually, I was noticing earlier today that I think you're gaining weight."
"Huh," I said.
"Yeah, your butt was way more toned last week. I didn't want to say anything, but, honey, I'm so worried that you're getting fat."
"Honey," I patiently replied as I turned to him in the mirror, "I hate to tell you this, but that's impossible. I mean, even if I did gain weight, it would not be so significant. You couldn't notice something so drastic in just a week. It's biologically impossible."
"No, you're getting fat. And soft. Seriously. You've gained at least 5 pounds. You're pants look too tight. Honey, I'm just being honest with you. I'm only telling you this because I love you."
He walked across the room to where I was standing and actually wrapped his hand around my right thigh.
"See," he said as encircled my thigh with his palm and fingers, "You were smaller last week. And more toned. I don't remember this much jiggle."
Like, really...WOW...While most women would either 1) fully believe him, or 2) lock themselves in the bathroom and cry all night, I was fully convinced that this person was completely...out...of...his...mind. I couldn't make concessions on this one. There was absolutely no question that there was no protective layer between my ribs and my skin. That week, I had to adjust the strings on my bathing suit to make it tighter, to prevent it from falling off of my body. And my pants were not tighter. I actually had to go out an buy a new pair of jeans because the ones I brought with me were no longer staying up! This man...this person claiming to "love me"...was absolutely...and completely...nuts.
At dinner that night, I inhaled a full steak and mound vegetables topped with butter. I even managed to leave room for a nice glass of port wine and creme brulee. It wasn't in spite at all, but simply because I needed the calories.