I went to the new Saturn owner’s complimentary service clinic last week, but I thought I’d stumbled into an AARP meeting instead. (That’s the American Association of Retired Persons.) There were about 20 people sitting at folding tables, chowing down on free chicken and potato salad, but at least 17 were over 55. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say I was probably the hottest chick there.* My only real competition was another 20-something, mildly overweight girl who was kind of annoying and loudmouthed. Maybe I should start hanging out at retirement homes to boost my self-esteem. My only fear is that pervy old men get even pervier with age and I’d have to watch my ass the whole time.
The purpose of these clinics is to give away free swag, answer any owner questions, and show people basic service procedures like how to change oil. A secondary purpose seemed to be to fatten people up, because their food table was a miniature shrine to carbohydrates. Maybe they have some sort of deal with that witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel? There was deep fried chicken, not-as-deep-fried chicken with the skin still attached, a big bowl of potato salad, an even bigger bowl of potato chips and a tray of chocolate iced brownies. Just looking at the bowl of fruit salad soaked in some sort of high fructose syrup gave me diabetes and made me go blind. And that was it. No veggies, no salad, nothing. I’m not too fond of the term “obesity epidemic,” but taking one look at this table made me see why there’s been cause to use that phrase so often lately.
I retreated back to my table with my mom, who was the one who wanted to go to this gathering because she loves free swag. Her favorite word is “clearance.” While we were eating and my fingers became more lubricated in grease than the mechanic’s, some more people walked in, including a morbidly obese girl. My reaction to seeing her was one I’ve noticed I’ve been having a lot lately which is “Thank God I’m not like that anymore.” I became completely flooded with relief. The limited mobility. The public shame. The restricted clothing options. Gone, gone, gone.
At the same time I also felt an urge to tell her, “I know how you feel. I used to be like that. I changed and you can too!” But I just averted my eyes and tried not to choke on the peach I was forcing down because what else am I really going to do? Save all the fat girls of the world? Become the Mother Theresa to the chubby? It would be rude to get up in a stranger’s business like that. Besides, obesity and weight loss are such complex, complicated topics that I don’t think I could ever convey everything I’ve learned in the last year and half in any sort of compact form.
Sometimes I feel like I have a secret past, like if I’d witnessed a mob hit and was in witness protection or if I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die. I used to be morbidly obese, but no one new that I meet knows this unless I tell them. It’s this big issue that has shaped who I am as a human being – but no one knows!
I didn’t educate anyone on weight loss techniques, however I did get a free thermos (sticker value $11.98) and my mom scored a free lunch bag, which we can use to bring healthy food to the next clinic if we ever buy another Saturn.
* ETA – As kalyn pointed out, it is quite possible to be over 55 and still be hot. I know there are a couple blogs by 55+ writers that I read and admire and I’m sorry if I offended anyone. I blame hubris of the young. Maybe when I’m older I’ll be wiser.