My name is Porter, and I’m fat.
Go ahead, get it out of your system. I’ve heard it all before. Portly Porter. Porky Porter. Piggly Wiggly Pork Bun Porter. If you can come up with a new one, I might even laugh.
But know this, Mister Scarecrow: my skin is thick. Blubber and scars make for excellent armor, strong as steel, impenetrable.
this is a lie. my skin, my scars, my pounds of subcutaneous fat, visceral fat: they are armor, but they are not my defense. they are convenient but too obvious.
no, my defense is more subtle and surprising: when my voice, my sass, my ass expand, they take up room, more room than me alone. they create a second skin–think of it as a force field–that hovers two hand-widths from my body. (i have measured it many times since the time i was a boy: two spans from pinky to thumb when both are extended, currently 18 inches.) it is not armor per se but padding. there is a difference.
when necessary, i slip quietly out of my massive body like the most delicate french exit and step into that faint buffer zone. that is where i hide. like semi-precious stones sewn into the lining of a peacoat by a second-rate smuggler, there i am.
you are so busy looking at the apparent me, corpulent me, the flesh of me, the affected grandeur of me, that you look right past the real me. if you would only unfocus your eyes, look into the middle distance like you do in your yoga classes full of hungry, skinny people, you would see that i am still here, plain as day. except i am no emerald hidden in the lining of a clever coat. I am not even common chalcedony, cool and dull as the light of a waning moon. i am at best sea glass, manmade and rubbed smooth.
And here’s the really important part: no matter how clever you think you are, no matter how skinny your jeans, how coiffed your hair, how ripped your abs, I win. I win.
I win all the time comma motherfucker period.
I win at parties. I’m the life of ‘em. What have I got to lose? I don’t give a shit what people think, I say what’s on my mind, and people love it.
an alternate metaphor suddenly occurs to me: you look at me and see the moon, but i am hidden in the regolith, the indistinct surface. i am not the man in the moon, visible on cloudless nights from any backyard on earth, but the man on the moon, easily overlooked unless you know to look for me. and even then you would need a telescope.
between stitches or on the surface of a bulbous satellite, there i am hidden. there i cannot be touched, even when i am doing the touching. and yes, i often do the touching.
being in one place but pretending to be in two is a difficult illusion to maintain. it would be so easy to let it drop.
Yoo-hoo. Look over here, party animal.
I’m the one next to the chip bowl, encouraging you and your undernourished friends to touch a few carbs. I’m the one downing shot after shot of tequila or bourbon or whatever bullshit you’re drinking, and I drink you under the table every time. I’m no lightweight. I win.
And when the sun’s coming up and it’s time to go home, yes, I’m a winner then, too. I’m the one you’ll pick because you’re too afraid of being rejected, too worried about being shot down to put the moves on the other pretty boys and pretty girls. You’re skin and boners, I’m that and more. I’m the low-hanging fruit, the lowest of them all, as low as my standards, as fruity as a fruitcake. I can’t say no to anything, not even you.
all that is true. i crave earthly delights. food, wealth, the touch of lovers: i do not deny myself anything. i am a glutton. it is my calling card and my achilles heel.
You want to shun me in front of your friends and sleep with me behind their backs? Laugh at me in public and shove me out the back door so no one knows that you’ve known the body of this fat, faggoty fuck? That’s fine with me. Have your cake and eat it, too. There’s plenty of cake to go around.
the cleverest snail is the one that hides on the surface of its shell, not within it.