I’d like to tell you a story. I was out the other night with The Bear (my boyfriend) and our friend The Moose. We’d had a delightful day—we went to Costco to buy a TV for The Bear, then over to The Moose’s house to check out the South Carolina primary results and hang while we figured out what we wanted to do. I really, really wanted to see Juno and we were also hungry, so we decided to hit up Habana Libre, an awesome Cuban restaurant in The Bear’s old ‘hood, and then go see the movie.
Now, it’s important to note that the three of us are all fat. Yes, we were two dudes and a fat chick out on the town for some good eats. It’s not the first time. We always get some attention, but I choose to assume that these people are staring at us because we are so damned interesting and attractive. Interesting is right, as we’re all rather loud and smart and usually having an energetic debate about something or other (cute story aside: One time I and The Bear were visiting my godmother in Milwaukee, and The Bear was opining about Chicago politics for some time, and as we got up to leave, someone from the next table stopped him and asked “I’m sorry to eavesdrop, but what do you do for a living? Because you are, like, super knowledgeable and interesting.” My boyfriend is kickass).
So, we’re sitting at the restaurant, enjoying the absolutely delicious Cuban fare. Empanadas, and Fried Yucca, and Tostones, and Masa de Puerco Frita and Ropa Vieja, and talking about whatever, mostly politics and football (I was trying to get them to explain sports betting to me). All of a sudden, The Moose looks over his shoulder, and says, in a rather angry tone of voice, “If you want to get by, you could just ask me to move.”
What the fuck? I am trying to figure out what is going on without being too obvious, and it appears as though someone at the next table has made a ha-ha-look-at-the-fat-people crack. The guy’s girlfriend is laughing hysterically (The Bear later hypothesized that she may very well have been high on cocaine). I look over at these people. I’m the only one who can really see them, because of where I’m sitting. And I see/hear another guy make a crack about my friend. I probably wouldn’t have just heard it, but I was looking at the guy’s face so I could see what he said.
Because I am, at my core, an easy-going girl who turns into a major bitch when anyone thinks it’s fun to have a laugh/look cool for their friends/entertain themselves at the expense of the dignity of other people, I gave these people what-for. My companions were a bit shocked. I don’t really remember what I said, but it involved “if you want to talk about us, you could just talk to us directly,” “I can see you, and I can hear what you’re saying,” and “I know you can see me and that you hear me talking to you, so don’t ignore me.” They were all steadfastly staring at a fixed space in front of each of them, and pretending that they didn’t hear me telling them to shut the fuck up.
If there’s one thing I hate, I hate it when you are telling someone that what they are doing is unacceptable, and they all of a sudden pretend not to be aware of your existence. This happens to me all the motherfucking time. Some asshole on the streets makes a comment about my tits or, worse, grabs one, and then when I yell at him, he’s so oblivious to my existence it’s like I might as well be a goddamned ghost. Lemme tell you, people do not like it when they are called out for being jerkwads, and they will evade every attempt to meet your angry glare.
So I persisted, until finally the coked-up girl looks over to acknowledge me and says “What?? We weren’t talking about you, we were talking about how I don’t eat fried food!” (laughs hysterically) (holds up plate to demonstrate food). I said “Sure you were. I can see you, and I can hear you.” She looks away and pretends I’m a ghost again.
They were chastened, though. After my tirade, they quieted down quite a bit, and ten or fifteen minutes later the original offender and his cokey lady left. Take that, fat haters. I actually have never really had people mock me for being fat before, and I think that’s probably because my being a female with giant breasts supercedes my fatness as prime fodder for asshole commentary. I’ve gotten the sense, over the last few years, that while it’s much worse to be a fat woman in America, fat men are actually subject to more overt comments by members of the public. But I could be wrong about that.
So, this being a new experience for me, I challenge you all to take up the same policy I have with respect to sexual harassment for the purposes of fat harassment. Part of the reason that people are assholes to women and fat people, is that for the most part, they can get away with it. It’s a rare thing to fight back against someone who talks about you or to you in a way that’s offensive, and I know because the men who harass me weekly always look absolutely shocked when I acknowledge them and then, tell them to fuck off. I vow to not let anyone get away with this shit without consequences. If they are going to embarrass you and make you feel small, you need to embarrass them and make them feel small. Because that’s what assholes deserve.