Hi again, have you guys OD’d on me yet? I know, I’ve been posting like a fiend lately; which is honestly about half as much as the rest of you, but I’ve been on a roll. See how much more fun I am when I’m not moaning all the time?
I have been thinking about starting a regular feature for a while just to keep things interesting and knew I wanted it to be something where I could share stories about life as a fat child, teenager, young woman, and MILF-to-be (that is my ultimate goal in weight loss after all). I was a bit worried that I might run out of material at some point because my memory is less than sharp, but who am I kidding? I have loads of material where this is concerned; I’ve spent my entire life FAT!
Some of the stories are so horrible they are hilarious and some are probably just horrible, but it is nice to look back, throw an arm around my former fat self (who is always skinnier than the person I am now) and give her a comforting squeeze. I hope that this will give a few of you some laughs, but more importantly I’m hoping that some of you young women struggling with your weight will find a way to laugh at yourself earlier than I did.
I know how devastating some of these moments can be; having someone treat you like you are invisible or worse STARE at you as you huff and puff in line or cope with some kiddo who has just spoken the honest to God’s truth in a VERY LOUD VOICE creating an awkward situation for all involved. I used to be humilified (my new favorite word..I like to think its a combination of humiliated and mortified) by these situations more often than not, but somewhere on my way to 400+ lbs. I just quit caring what other people thought (to some degree) and started laughing at the horrifying humor of it all. Life is so much more fun when you are laughing wouldn’t you agree?
So, for the inaugural "Tale from the Scale", I’d like to share a particularly funny incident that happened about a month after my mother passed away. This takes us back to December 2002. I weighed around 420 lbs, maybe a little less and, as you can imagine, was feeling less than festive about the upcoming holidays. I had lost three important women in my life that year (great grandmother, grandmother and mom) and given that Christmas had been their favorite holiday, the loss was made even more salient.
I had been thinking about how I could cheer myself up and found myself daydreaming about the days I used to accompany my mom and grandmother to get their nails done. As a child, I loved going with them and watching as the manicurist miraculously took nails that were way past their prime and transformed them by clipping, filing, building and polishing until they were restored to the beautiful shiny “pointers” I loved (As a child I remember thinking if I had nails as pretty as my mom and grandma, I’d point all the time). I can close my eyes and picture me there, head resting on my arms at one end of the manicurist’s table, breathing in what I’m sure were toxic fumes, artificial nail dust, and acetone as I listened to all the adult gossip that passes for conversation in a salon. It.was.magical.
Feeling even more nostalgic, I decided that getting my nails done for the holidays was the perfect way to celebrate both my mom and grandma and keep them close to me that Christmas. I even donned a few pieces of their jewelry to take them "with" me and imagined that every time I looked down at my shiny red pointers I’d think of them and smile. With that in mind, I went to the computer, put in my zip code+nails and called the first result, a place called “Model Nail.” I thought it was an odd name for a nail place as one or both words was crying out to be pluralized, but who am I to judge? You don’t need perfect grammar to make pretty pointers do you?
I called to make an appointment and after a few rings heard “Dis Mod-u Nail, how cam I hep you?” Now, I have to tell you a little something about myself. I may have a degree in Communication Disorders and a trained ear for various dialects and accents, but something strange happens when someone starts speaking to me with an Asian accent: my brain just turns off and refuses to decipher anything that spouts from the individual’s lips. Erik has always made fun of me because even when the context is obvious (ordering Chinese food and having them point and say “Wah kin’ ri’ you wan’?”) I stand there with a stupefied look on my face and ask them to repeat themselves until my slow brain catches up and translates for me. Usually I luck out and have someone with me whose brain is much more skilled at this sort of thing and can do the English to English translation for me. (side note: I realize this may be slightly offensive and I apologize…my inability to understand this particular accent has more to do with my own shortcomings so I hope it’s seen in that light.)
So on with my story…once I figured out what she was asking me, I asked if I could make an appointment to get my nails done. She explained that I could just walk in and suggested that afternoon was a great time as they were slow. I thanked her, patted myself on the back for not needing a translator this time around and grabbed my keys.
I arrived at "Model Nail" and went up to the reception area to sign in. The woman behind the counter was a very friendly woman who told me to have a seat and then shouted over her shoulder in what I assumed was Vietnamese to the young guy who would be doing my nails. Looking less than thrilled at the appearance of his next customer, he angrily shouted something back at her to which she answered with something else sounding just as annoyed and then gave me a guilty smile and told me to have a seat at his station. Of course, in my insecurity, I imagined all sorts of things that might have been said during their exchange:
Him: “What? I have to do her? What about the cute blonde on the end? Give the fat one to grandpa” (there was a much older man doing nails there too)
Her: “You know grandpa loves cute blondes! Stop being selfish, you have the rest of your life to enjoy the cute ones!”
Him: “Fine! Send the porker over”
Her: smiling guiltily “You can have a seat over there :)”
As I sat down, he yanked his nail tips from a drawer and asked me what I wanted. I explained that I just wanted to get new nails and showed him about how long I wanted them. He began measuring my nail beds, mumbling grumpily in Vietnamese the whole time. I have rather large nail beds and even though I’m fairly certain that being super obese has nothing to do with their size, I remember hoping he had an extra large in there for my thumb. He didn’t, but found a way to make the largest tip work on my King Kong-sized thumbnail.
Over the next hour, he proceeded to buff, sand, glue and paint me a new set of fingernails. Every 5 to 10 minutes, he’d ask me questions I’d later realize must be in a manicurist’s textbook somewhere because I’d be asked them every single time I came back for fills:
“You wor’ today?”
“You have boyfriend?”
“you have kid? Where your kid?”
You get the picture. Before I knew it, he was done. “You go wa’ ple’?” My brain begins to whir to life, trying to figure out what he’d just asked me to do. “I’m sorry? I go where?” “Wa’! Wa’! You go Wa’!” Even though he was pointing to the back of the salon where a line of sinks were, I found myself looking to my right in search of a translator. Luckily, the woman sitting next to me...we'll just call her Blanche, came to my rescue “I think he wants you to go wash your hands sweetie.” Embarrassed, I thank her for her help, smile at him and head over to the sink to “Wa’.”
After rinsing my hands I walk over to their paltry display of nail lacquer and proceed to pick out a lovely festive red fantasizing the whole time about the sorts of things I was going to be pointing out with my new red tips. I was definitely feeling much better, this was a GREAT idea I told myself; just what I needed!
I walk over and place the red nail polish in front of him and place my chubby hands back on the table. With a huge sigh, he looks at the manicurist next to him and says something in Vietnamese. They have an exchange that goes back and forth for a few minutes during which I smile at Blanche and hope for the best. He turns to me and says:
Him: “Why you wan’ pain’ yo’ nail?”
Me: “I’m sorry, why what?”
Blanche: “Honey, he wants to know why you want to paint your nails.”
Me: Stupified…why would I not want my nails painted? Turning to smile again “Well, I like to paint my nails and with the holidays I thought it would fun to go with a pretty red” I finish with a big smile thinking he’d now start painting away. I was wrong.
Him: “You don’ wan’ pain’ yo’ nail”
Me: Completely mystified I say “I don't?” and look to Blanche to see if I’m missing something?
Him: “Oh no, you don’ wan pain’ yo nail, you wan’ know why?”
Me: Again, looking at Blanch for help I turn to him and say “ok? Why?”
Him: “Well see, yo’ nail so little” his voice raises slightly as he emphasizes the “little” “Yo’ nail so little, but your fingah SO BIG!!! As if the loud emphasis and the fact that he dropped his voice an octave to adequatly project the word "BIG", he also used his fingers to grip the biggest part of my finger. I didn’t know whether to be proud of the fact he thought my nail beds were so petite or embarrassed that he thought my fingers were so fat.
Again, I look to Blanche, this time to see if she had heard his explanation for why it would be a catastrophe to paint my nails. I suspected she had when she took great pains to look everywhere but AT me.
Me: slightly annoyed with him and amazed at the cajones he was sporting, I answered “Oh ok, well I would still like for you to paint them.”
Him: with an exasperated look on his face he says “No, trus’ me honey. You don’ wan’ pain yo’ nail’.” And just in case I hadn’t gotten it the first time around, he proceeded to explain again why this was definitely a fashion DON’T in my case. “See I pain’, pain’, pain’, pain’ yo nail it jus’ make yo’ fingah look biggah! Yo’ finga’ so BIG! They so BIG! You don’ wan’ pain’ yo’ nail!” With each BIG he gets louder and more expressive and by then I am fairly certain that every one in the salon knows exactly how BIG my fat fingers are and how inappropriate he thinks it is to call any more attention to them than I already have.
I’m absolutely mortified for about two seconds and then I imagine my mom and my grandmother watching from somewhere in heaven and literally laughing their ASS off. Here I am trying to make myself feel better and, typical Michelle, find myself in the absolute opposite situation. Instantly, I’m trying not to laugh myself and channeling both of these strong women inform him that since I am PAYING HIM, he will paint my nails whatever color I put in front of him and smile doing it. Seeing I’m a lost cause, he angrily picks up the polish and proceeds to give me the absolute worst polish job I’ve ever had in my life. I could tell that I was going to have to remove it when I got home and do it over myself, but I’ll be damned if I was leaving there without him painting every last nail!
When he was done, I wrote my check and used one of my shiny red nails on one of my very BIG fingers to push the check across the desk hoping he’d notice I’d added one penny to the total for his tip. I grabbed my keys and walked out the door empowered with my shiny red pointers. Getting in the car, I grabbed my cell phone and even though I was on the way home, I called Erik..”You are never going to believe what happened at this salon…” As usual, we had WAY more fun laughing at the whole situation than I probably would have if it had just been your average venture to the salon and “Yo’ fingah’ so BIG” is now a favorite catch phrase among family and friends.
And with that, I will conclude with this video for your viewing pleasure:
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