Columns » Bob Lancaster

The case for fat

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President Clinton and Bro.-Gov. Huckabee are on a crusade against fat. They want everybody to be svelte. They want everybody to be trim, exactly the word that contemporary hog farmers use. They want everybody to exercise off all that rump tallow. They want you — one a reformed Velveetaholic, the other a legendary Wimpy of Quarter Pounders with Cheese — to eat only raw-bar fare and old wallets calling themselves fat-free sausage. Understand this is for your own good. Since they can’t force this misery on you, they want you to force it on your young’uns. Be a slob yourself, but raise up HEALTHY KIDS! Sort of a strange crusade for two former redneck wide loads from Hope, Ark., to be teaming up on. It’s none of their beeswax whether you or your get are fat, and they don’t really care, but there’s big free publicity for them in pretending to. There’s money to be made “writing” and selling anti-fat books to finance future political campaigns. These crusades that are three parts platitude and one part motivational-seminar buzz are wormwood to me. They make my ass want a dip of snuff, as the domino players used to say. Or in this case I’ve been thinking about a protest demonstration where everybody would gobble Goo-Goo Clusters like they do watermelon down at the Hope festival. Till one of us just exploded in a kind of ecstatic transfiguration. I don’t intend to charge these or any other crusaders with high insincerity. Maybe it’s too much sincerity. Or too much of something unctuous masquerading as sincerity. It might have to do with the off-puttingness of self-recommendation. Especially when it gets enthusiastic. One can impress oneself unbecomingly. Anyhow, there are two sides to this fat story, political concurrence to the contrary notwithstanding. For instance, they say being fat hurts a child’s self-image, but being scrawny sure didn’t help mine any. One year when lumber prices were up Pap wanted to use me as a beanpole for his Kentucky Wonders, but I wouldn’t do it. “How do you think that makes me feel?” I told him image-consciously. “Aw, you’d be done with it by the Fourth of July,” he said. He also wanted me to volunteer to be one of the posts in a family game of horseshoes. This proposal alarmed Mother, but I knew Pap didn’t mean anything by it: He just wasn’t the type to give much consideration to a youngster’s self-image or delicate shins. It occurred to me around that time that I could avoid such indignities by putting some meat (or poundage, anyway) on the ol’ moi bones, and there are now two of the me then, and I’ve been happier by and large as a person of weight. You won’t hear it from these politicians, but fat does have its positives. The remainder of the column is a list of just a few of them. You don’t have to worry about some rich horse owner drafting you to be his jockey in some big race like the Kentucky Derby. Your lap amounts to something. If as a child you wondered what it would be like to spend your life carrying around an anvil, you’ll know if you’re fat. Grandchildren are more amused by the body noises of portly oldtimers. If you’re willing to be corpulent and just go with that, you’ll save all that retching that the bulimics and anoxerics have to go through. Your love handles, somewhere between a Stuckey’s pecan roll and a saddle blanket, will be substantial enough to deserve being called that. Better chance to become a sumo rassler or interior lineman if that’s your ambition. Wags won’t be calling you a long drink of water. If you’re in a boating accident, or if your plane goes down in the water, you can serve as your own floatation device. It will mean more when you throw your weight around. Less likely to break something rollerskating. Can do a much more impressive cannonball at the pool. Fatty has an average 30 percent more room for tattoos. Only extremities endangered if you fall down the stairs. Jowls can serve as an additional storage compartment when out gathering pecans or picking up range balls. Fat people can do the dance called “the bump” much more formidably than thin people, and have been known to knock thin bumpers into the next room, and literally turn them into projectiles. Blubber is known to deflect several kinds of lethal radiation. Smooths out facial wrinkles. Rattlesnake bite is no prob if you’re fat. No peer pressure to hop into the car through the driver’s window like the Duke boys used to do. If you’re sitting beside a sharp-elbowed nudger, it’s a lot less annoying if you’re fat. If worse comes to worst in a power outage, if you’re fat you can just insert a wick.

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