Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Fat Girl" and the sense of smell

On Saturday I finally got around to reading "Fat Girl" by Judith Moore, a very brief memoir. I had been meaning to read this since I'd seen Ms. Moore's obit, which praised this book to the skies. It was a painful, messy read, dragging one along through Moore's hideous childhood.

There are a lot of brilliant things about this book, but I'm never going to read it again, and I don't want to keep it in my house, either. I don't want to feel like poor Judith Moore again, although, like Moore, "I am not that pleasant. The older I get the less pleasant I am."

My favorite part of the book was the introduction:
I am fat. I am not so fat that I can't fasten the seat belt on the plane. But, fat I am. I wanted to write about what it was and is like for me, being fat.

This will not be a book about how I had an eating disorder and how I conquered this disorder through therapies or group process or antidepressants or religion or twelve-step programs or a personal trainer or white-knuckling it or the love of a good man (or woman). This will be the last time in this book you will see the words "eating disorder. . . .

I know, from being thin and listening to thin people talk about fat people, that thin people often denigrate fat people. At best, they feel sorry for them. I know too that when a thin person looks at a fat person, the thin person considers the fat person less virtuous than he. The fat person lacks willpower, pride, this wretched attitude "self-esteem," and does not care about friends or family because if he or she did care about friends or family, he or she would not wander the earth looking like a repulsive sow, rhinoceros, hippo, elephant, general wide-mawed flesh-flopping flabby monster.

Among other things, Moore made me once again extremely grateful that I have a very limited sense of smell. Over the years, many tactless people have informed me how very unlucky I am not to have a keen sense of smell and just how much my life is tragically blighted as a consequence, but I firmly maintain that there are many more bad smells in the world than good ones, and if I run across a nice one, I can ram my nose right up into it and huff away and therefore get some little bit of smelling joy into my usually odorless life. Moore must have had an excellent sense of smell, and she certainly was able to convey it, and after reading about all those body odors and cooking smells, I didn't even want to think about smelling anything, much less actually catch a whiff of anything.

Just as I was finishing up "Fat Girl" in bed Saturday night, the Sober Husband started putting the moves on me. There is not much I can think of which is a more powerful antaphrodisiac than reading "Fat Girl." All I wanted was to retreat to a clean, white, odorless, foodless, empty sanctuary and cleanse my body and soul, NOT enter into a world of secretions and odors and terrible, terrible flesh.


Anonymous said...

"...as I was finishing up Fat Girl in bed Saturday night..."

Must. Exercise. Self. Restraint.

Anonymous said...

1. you aren't fat. i haven't seen you but you have no "fat girl" symptoms. you are obviosly content with your body and wear it proudly. as you should.

2. i would love to live in a antiseptic state free from my physical existance as well. i hate the pain. the constricts, the tiredness. too bad for us. this is what we have.

3. your response to "fat girl" is such a great tribute. i hope only one thing i write will have someone contemplate who they are as your post has.

Anonymous said...

Drunken Housewife writes:

There is not much I can think of which is a more powerful antaphrodisiac than reading "Fat Girl." All I wanted was to retreat to a clean, white, odorless, foodless, empty sanctuary and cleanse my body and soul, NOT enter into a world of secretions and odors and terrible, terrible flesh.

This reminded me of an old post on my blog where I noted my wife's claims of an enhanced sense of smell. I'm not sure if you had started reading the blog back then, but it might be worth reviewing.


the Drunken Housewife said...

I can think of many rejoinders, Freewheel, but sadly jokes containing you & the words "fat", "girl", and "bed" all come across as a slam at your wife's weight. I have no reason to disparage your wife, and, even though it's extremely unlikely she'd ever read said rejoinder, I'll refrain in a spirit of sisterly solidarity.

Hughman, usually I love living in a physical body, but sadly I have gotten out of shape and heavier than I should be. There are so many joys of the flesh in my life... at least when I haven't been affected by the immensely powerful prose of Judith Moore.

2AM, my theory on your wife is that she is gay (with my back-up theory being that she was raped or severely molested before she met you and is trying to repress it all). A strong sense of smell is not going to help under either of my scenarios. I do think we'd all be happier if we had weaker senses of smell.

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