"Um...thanks," I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
"I mean, you're not disgustingly skinny," my friend James told me the next day, à propos of absolutely nothing. We were on the treadmill cooling down after our workout, as I've taken to lifting weights to try to build up my puny, pathetic muscles.
"Wow," I said. "That's like, the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."
"No. Are you kidding? That's a terrible thing to say."
"No, but I said you're not disgustingly skinny."
"Just stop talking. Oh, and by the way? You're not really that fat."
A few days earlier, walking around in class checking my students' work, I noticed one student had absentmindedly scribbled the title of a Bon Iver song in the margin of his notebook. Skinny Love, scrawled underneath two lines of notes on indirect object pronouns. And, not to read too much into a Bon Iver song, but...really? I mean, really?
I am a freak. I am a medical oddity. Years ago, I was lying on a paper-covered table getting poked and prodded by a physician's assistant, when-- "I'll...be right back," she said, backing slowly out of the room with a frightened look in her eyes. Back she came with the doctor, who poked and prodded in turn. "Right here?" the doctor asked. "Here?" The nurse nodded. "That's a rib." The nurse looked at her quizzically. "Yeah, that's definitely a rib. The last one. Usually you can't feel it, but..."
"Have you always been thin?" the nurse asked me during a subsequent visit to the student health center during my college years.
"Yes," I said. "I have."
"And do you...eat?"
"Um, yeah, of course. Doesn't everyone?"
"And do you...throw up?"
"What? No! I mean, ok, last weekend, but that wasn't on purpose. I'd never had Jagermeister before, and... But anyway, I don't have an eating disorder, if that's what you're getting at." She raised an eyebrow. "Really!" I insisted.
"Hmm," she said, pursing her lips, and wrote something down on her clipboard.
So, yes. I am skinny. I get it. Hear that everyone? You can stop telling me about it now!
Though, if it makes you feel better, I am sure that will all be changing soon. The long, slow slide into the big 3-0 is rapidly accelerating into a free fall, as I find my birthday ever more quickly approaching. And, as everyone knows, or so various sources have gleefully reported to me, it's all over once you hit thirty. Your metabolism slows down, you start putting on weight, and your hair? It might even go gray. From there on out it's nothing but crows feet, age spots and spare tires, or so they tell me. And you know what? I'll take it. Anything to avoid another decade of hearing about how skinny I am.
Skinny and sis, 1989
Bringing skinny back, 2009