Home > 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(3)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(3)
Mona Awad

“What?” she hisses.

“Let’s do the Fate Papers real quick,” I hiss back.

Mel sighs and sits down with me back at our booth.

I watch as she lamely shuffles the crumpled bits of napkin. I close my eyes tight and ask the universe as hard as I can in my mind.

When the paper drops, I pick it up off the table and unfold it.

Yes, written with purple ink in Mel’s loopy hand.

I make her do two out of three.

“Now what?” she says, as we both stare the crumpled Yes of the universe in the face for the second time.

By then the businessmen are getting up, clearing their trays. The horny one, though, he takes his time about it, smiling at me on the way out in a manner that I can only describe as trying for fatherly but coming off more like creepy uncle. Mel and I look at each other and make a face and fake a shudder and laugh.

Later on, Mel will climb into cars and taxis with men she barely knows while I watch from the sidewalk. She’ll agree to blow a guy in the stall of a men’s bathroom near Union Station for fifty dollars. She’ll wear her Catholic school uniform long after she has dropped out of high school for a man from Sudbury who looks exactly like Sloth from The Goonies. After she drops out, I’ll see her at a coffee shop on her way to a fetish bar or to meet a guy, her earphones full of increasingly obscure music, her shoulders and arms covered in welts and bruises, full of stories involving men who I’ll call The Icks because their names always seem to end in ick. Rick. Vick. There will be two Nicks. She’ll tell me the stories while I stare at the welts, the purply blue swirls of bruise edged with yellow like little inverted galaxies.

Much later on, in the back of a parked van, my wrists will get tied together with a pair of dirty gym socks and I’ll get terrible head from a political science major who will tell me my inability to come is psychological. I’ll go to a park with a man ten years older than I am, an Indian physicist. After explaining resonance to me with violent hand gestures, he’ll dry-hump me between the rocks bordering the man-made creek. Years before that, in a hotel room in the next suburb, I’ll go down on a man old enough to be my father—a friend of my mother’s—every day after school for a week or so until this man feels so guilty he’ll tell my mother and I’ll never see him again. All that week, this man will pay for my taxi ride from school to the hotel. And I’ll ride in it, lipstick matching my nail polish, bra matching my underwear, feeling like a girl in a movie until I get there and then when I get there, see him waving at me by the entrance, ready to pay the driver, I will not feel like that anymore. You look nice, he’ll say in the elevator on the way up, if we are alone. Nice, not beautiful. Never will this man or any man call me beautiful, not for a long, long time.

• • •

“They would have totally gone for it. You know they would have,” Mel says, handing me an earbud as we both rise from the booth. “Especially that one guy.”

“Yeah,” I say, putting the bud in my right ear.

“And the Fate Papers said Yes,” she adds, putting the bud’s twin in her left ear and pushing a button on the Discman, “Some Velvet Morning” swelling in our respective ears.

“You know what that means?” she says. “That means the universe wanted us to blow those guys.”

“So what happens when you go against the universe?” I ask her, as we leave behind the golden arches and enter the suddenly ominous maw of a Misery Saga night.

“I don’t know,” she says, thoughtful. “I’ve never done it before. I guess we’ll see.”

As we walk to her house under black-bellied clouds we consider the question, careful to walk the same measured steps side by side so the cord won’t pull too far in either direction.

Your Biggest Fan

You’ve just polished off a mickey of vodka, seven kamikazes, and six dirty mothers. It’s getting to be around that time of night, that hour when you feel you ought to call your biggest fan. . . . Christ, what’s the fat girl’s name again? Liz? Liza? Eliza? Something -iza, maybe. The point is even though it’s Friday night and very, very late, you know she’ll be home. The fat girl is always home. Alphabetizing her fairy tale and mythology collection. Giving herself a rune reading by candlelight. Lying on her celestial bedspread, listening to a subgenre of her vampire music with closed eyes. In other words: waiting for your call. And you are right. She is ridiculously happy to hear from you, as usual—another undeniable plus about the fat girl. In this regard, she is so unlike Some People, who often hang up upon hearing your voice, or let the phone ring and ring when you know damn well they’re home. Not the fat girl—she actually gasps when she learns it’s you. You can even hear how her plump little mouth forms into a quivering dark red O of surprise.

“Oh my god, Rob?!” gushes the fat girl. Because she is just so excited! Because she just can’t believe you called!

“Hey . . .” Is it Ellen? Elise? Something -ise. Better not risk it. “Hey, You!”

You say you hope you aren’t calling her too late, even though you know you are not. You could never call the fat girl too late.

“Not too late, not too late!” she cries. She is just so glad to hear from you. “I was getting a little worried, actually,” she admits.

It’s sweet how the fat girl worries. She really cares, unlike Some People, who have told you point-blank, just tonight, that it doesn’t matter to them whether you live or die.

Well, you’ve had a hell of a day, you tell the fat girl. A hell of a day. “Hey, mind if I come over?” you ask her, even though you already know she never minds and that, in fact, she was sort of hoping you might.

“Of course!” she says. One thing, though: Her mom’s asleep, so you’ll probably want to come in around the side. “Last time you forgot and woke her up, remember?”

You have a dim recollection of a very large woman in a kimono glaring at you from the open front door, while the fat girl waved at you from behind her boulder-like shoulder. “Oh, right, mother,” you mumble. You look at your watch. Shouldn’t she have moved out by now?

• • •

It’s been a while since you paid a visit to the fat girl. It’s been a while since you fishtailed your way through a dark night of the soul toward her small, split-level bungalow only to crash and burn against one of her mother’s Tuscan urn planters. It’s been a while since you staggered up those steps, collapsed onto the WIPE YOUR PAWS! welcome mat, made that upside-down hanging of birch twigs rattle by banging and banging your head on her front door. You haven’t been to see her, in fact, since your last artistic crisis, wherein you lay on her couch all night, drinking all her mother’s Cointreau and then some, while she nodded sympathetically and made you fudge.

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