Big Happy Fat Man
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Hair"
Originally featured on 02-17-2010
As part of our series "The Things We Change When We Want To Make That Big Change"

I love you, big happy fat man, because when you run, there is a beautiful echo on you when you stop, like inertia loves your body too. And as you run toward me on this dance floor, at your sister’s wedding, it’s like the charge of a bull, and people watch as you pick me up, because it’s not like a daring salsa move, it’s fast and it looks dangerous. You show no sign of self-consciousness as you throw me over your shoulder and it feels wild and uncontrolled and I am vulnerable and giggling as if I am five years old again. And I am embarrassed, shamed, my ass high in the air, and I love you because you didn’t give me the choice to maintain composure. You bypassed my judgment and I needed it.

Your legs truly remind me of hams. And it’s wonderful power, but you’re also encased in softness and it’s the least threatening thing I’ve ever seen. As I dressed for tonight, I did ask you if the dress was too tight, because I ate two lunches today, and it was the quintessential female shame, boring and pathetic, but you told me I was tiny. You didn’t say I was beautiful, you didn’t tell me I looked pretty tonight, but you told me I looked tiny, as if you couldn’t believe I could be this small. Even on my fattest day, you are a hundred pounds more, and I love to stand by you, because you take away the possibility that I could ever be too much.

I lean into you as we wait in line for food when our table is called. You don’t redistribute your weight and you don’t move and you are a wall. Transportable and mine. I mention something stupid and mean about a bridesmaid’s haircut and you don’t get it, you turn it into a joke, and my competitive self disappears, sad and unnecessary now. There are no other women, and you kiss my cheek, softly. You like dresses, but hate high heels, even though I am still shorter while wearing them. When you tell me I should take the heels off to dance, it makes me think of women, walking, happy and barefoot. You think there is no danger in being too relaxed, no danger in behaving like a seventh grader. You always pretend as if other’s judgment does not exist. Now, I can’t do it though. I am a woman and women wear stilettos, for composure and beauty.

As we move through the buffet at this wedding, you put potatoes on my plate. You laugh that I can eat, eat like a man, and it’s true and with you I just don’t care. There is no threatened femininity, we are foodies, and it makes you happy when I eat with abandon, food piled high and consumed with remarkable speed. And I can because you love it when I’m fatter. And I do love butter when there are no consequences. We sit close and I look at your upper arms and am amazed that they stay thick, even though you don’t care and never exercise, and I squish that fat and muscle with my fingers and I am ridiculous and inappropriate. My composure is overrated so I drink more wine. You give me a strange look and a small smile.

We arrive home and slow dance in the living room. You are the warmest person I have ever known, and you joke that I am reptilian as I insist on putting my icy fingers inside your sleeves. We eventually move to bed and you fall asleep almost immediately. A deep, manish rattle shakes you and you are beautiful and rosy and take up remarkable space. A bear, with a barrel chest rising and falling. I burrow under your arm somewhere, wedging myself beneath you for warmth, and I sleep, forgiven and small.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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