the sorrows of spring

Dear Uma: Here in Yukon, as you know, we have the midnight sun. Even this early in the season, I can take a cup of tea outside around nine in the…

Dear Uma:

Here in Yukon, as you know, we have the midnight sun.

Even this early in the season, I can take a cup of tea outside around nine in the evening, before settling at the computer for my work hours, and bask in sunshine.

Yesterday I unpacked warm-weather clothes from the trunk in the storeroom where they’ve been hibernating for the last seven months.

Taking them an armload at a time, I threw them all on the bed so as to sort and examine before selecting a pair of cutoffs and a tank top to wear out into the sunny warmth of a Yukon summer evening.

My own sunny warmth dissipated as I realized the fly front zipper of the cut-offs was not going to work, reason being the damned things had shrunk and no longer fit me.

Flinging them to the floor, I pulled on the tank top. Something had happened to it, too, during those seven dark months; it was not only snug across the chest, but the armholes felt tighter.

It seemed shorter, too, until I realized, to my chagrin, it was riding up over a swollen mound now occupying the place where, last fall, the taut skin of my stomach had dipped between my hip bones.

I tried on every article of clothing, each one being discarded to the floor as it became evident not one piece of my summer wardrobe fit me.

As I rushed back to examine the trunk, my feet got snarled up in the abandoned clothes on the floor and I took a nasty tumble, hitting my head on the side of the opened door and my knee on some fragments of a broken plastic clothes hanger. Ignoring the pain, I staggered to the storeroom and knelt to look inside the trunk.

What was I expecting? I can hear you ask. Some accidentally spilled, highly secret, new chemical that shrinks all fabrics?

A new species of moth capable of devouring cloth in a fashion that causes an entire garment to become less?

A team of tiny evil seamstresses?

I am not certain what I anticipated; I just knew something had been at work on my clothes.

There was nothing to be seen in the trunk other than the summer shoes.

Tentatively, I slid a foot into a sandal — it fit! I stood to put another shoe on; it, too, fit perfectly. Then I noticed that my knee was bleeding and my head was throbbing to the point of causing dizziness.

In the bathroom, while picking small hard pieces of plastic from my knee, I realized the ache in my head had become localized and was low on my forehead. I decided to take some aspirin and go to bed, forgoing a night’s work, and dealing with the mystery of the shrunken clothes the next day.

I slept deeply, and well, aided by the aspirin, I think.

Having gone to bed early, I was up early this morning, a rare event for me.

It seemed to call for some morning-type domestic effort, like doing laundry.

My knee was stiff but workable, and my head didn’t ache, though I was aware of a tenderness around my eyes.

The trailer has only two mirrors; one is a small one over the bathroom sink, the other is a full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. The latter is typically covered by bathrobes hanging from hooks. I went into the bathroom and closed the door, intending to take the robes down to be laundered, which I did.

Bereft of the cloth coverings, the full-length mirror afforded me an unexpected and entirely unwelcome view of my partially nude self, cruelly lit by the morning sun pouring in through the window.

The first thing I saw was how very pale I was — all over. I couldn’t miss the “all over” part because there was SO MUCH of it. I have become huge, immense. I am a vast expanse of white pulpy stuff that ripples when I breathe and drapes and pleats when I bend any part of my body.

It was fascinating, in a sick way; I couldn’t stop staring at this monstrous image in the mirror, moving my arms and legs to watch the ponderous dance of dimpled flesh.

When I was able to move my gaze upwards from this ghastly performance, I got another shock; both my eyes were black!

Well, not exactly black, more of a purply greenish hue, tinged with yellow — like meat gone bad, very bad. And my knee was swollen, not grossly, but enough to appear to be a piece of semi-chewed pizza stuck on my leg.

All together, it was a disturbing and ugly sight.

The only good thing to come out of this shocking encounter was the realization of what had happened to my summer apparel — I had happened to it.

I’ve been hideous with injuries before; the black eyes and the chewed knee were familiar sights, but never before have I been fat and hideous.

How could this have happened? Why has no one I love and trust said anything to me about my swelling proportions?

Pete must have noticed; he bought my holiday clothes for the aborted fishing trip. He had to have ordered them larger because they’d fit fine. I don’t shop, so I haven’t looked at a size label in years. I’ve been a size six since I was six, I think.

And you, Uma, my best friend; when we got together in Seattle last month, you can’t tell me you didn’t notice that I’d become the size of a trailer.

Lari didn’t say anything either and that really surprises me, given his history of being tart-tongued and totally lacking in sensitivity.

Did the two of you conspire to say nothing to your newly corpulent friend? Was I the object of pity?

Had Pete forewarned you?

I expect an answer sometime today, via this medium, or better — a phone call.

I got dressed, pulling on my favourite winter sweatpants and one of Pete’s old shirts, and went around pulling down all the blinds and closing the curtains.

A telephone call excused me from the dinner club tonight; it was to be my first, and I am sorely disappointed to have to miss it.

Obviously, I will not be leaving the house for a long while; possibly all summer. The black eyes and the shredded knee will heal quickly, and hopefully before Pete comes home, but the fat is going to take longer.

The internet is a veritable gold mine of solutions for obese folks; I’ve ordered an exercise machine, several different types of pills and potions, and a device that is put on before bed and works off the fat during the night while one sleeps.

The latter appears to involve electrical charges, leaving me to wonder how exactly one is expected to sleep while one’s limbs are jerking spasmodically, but I’m certain the manufacturers have thought of that.

I blame Yukon’s winter for this; the length and severity of the winter make outdoor exercise difficult and often impossible. Indoor clothing must be loose, in order to layer, and both indoors and out, people dress alike, making them indistinguishable from one another.

Who can tell who is fat and who is thin when everyone is wearing snowpants and parkas outside and sweatpants and big sweaters inside?

I include Watson Lake in the blame; I have learned to cook because this town doesn’t have good restaurants, or a store with fresh and varied foodstuffs.

I have had to learn to cook, and that means experimentation.

Dessert items have featured large on my menus; they are a crucial part of a well-presented and tasty dinner. Or lunch.

Many breakfast items have a dessert-like quality; think of waffles, crepes, or pancakes.

The dinner club I was invited to join is partially to blame; in order to hold my own in the dinner club, I have been practising — a lot.

I blame Pete for being away so much, forcing me to eat my own cooking, all of it.

I blame Pete for saying nothing as I ate my way to becoming mountainous.

I blame you and Lari for not only refusing to remark on my growing girth, but encouraging it with beer, tequila and enormous meals in Seattle restaurants.

My cookbooks, my scribbled pages of recipes and food-associated notes, have been burned in the backyard.

As I stood watching the flames from my blackened eyes, buried deep in pouches of fat, I clasped my hands to pray for help, for release from my prison of lard.

That’s when I noticed I now have a bosom made for clasping. Could this be the reason for Pete’s silence?


Heather … AKA Fatty Fatty Two By Four

Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.