Like it or not, humans very rarely see eye-to-eye. We like to divide ourselves into groups — right vs. left, black vs. white, Hostess vs. Entenmann’s.
But once in a while, we set aside our differences and come together. Sometimes a tragedy brings us closer, sometimes a common enemy gives us something to fight for — or sometimes, it’s merely a matter of extreme weather.
This past weekend, we were all what I like to call “dumped on.” Now I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed being trapped in my apartment. I wore pajamas all weekend, drank hot cocoa, did some writing and what not. To top it all off, I made myself some chicken wrapped in bacon — always a good sign when you’re eating and you think, “I can really taste the pig on that bird.”
But back to my original point: Where did I see this transcendent moment of togetherness? Where was this rare and treasured human connection?
Shaw’s supermarket. Friday afternoon. 12:30 p.m.
There’s always a certain amount of hysteria before severe weather. People see some snow coming and they act like a nuclear holocaust is imminent. Personally, I think the news stations are in some kind of weird cahoots with the supermarkets — you know just to get us to buy more wheat germ or something. Then again, my conspiracy theory really falls apart after considering the eight feet of snow I removed from my roommate’s car on Monday.
Still, people sprint to the grocery store whenever weather is on its way, and I must confess that I love going just to people-watch — and to buy cookies, of course. Last Friday was no different. As I rode the escalator up into Shaw’s I felt something deep within me surging and rising like waves. I watched as everyone frantically searched — nay! Yearned for that second gallon of milk. I felt totally in tune with the divine oneness that was present in Shaw’s. My roommate thought it was probably just gas, but I knew it was something deeper.
All instances of the mock-heroic aside, you must be wondering what this has to do with being fat. To answer this question, though, you must first understand how fat guys tend to view themselves in the context of the Grocery store. Often I find myself in line with some skinny girl and in her cart I see carrots, yogurt, sugar-free juices, chicken breasts. Then I look in my cart: four steaks, two packages of Shaw’s chocolate chip cookies, five boxes of Goya rice, a whole bunch of munchies from the appetizer bar, and two bottles of Hershey Chocolate syrup. As a fat man, I really only have two food groups: trans-fats and carbohydrates. I’m convinced that the Shaw’s bakery section is what heaven looks like. I don’t care that those cakes are all filled with artificial ingredients — I’m an English major, fiction gets me all hot under the collar. But more to the point, my grocery store runs wouldn’t exactly pass the “Sargent Choice” test.
Now granted, I’m exaggerating. I see skinny people buy junk food all the time. And of course I buy vegetables. I’d be anemic if I didn’t. But there is a distinct difference in the emotional response between fat people buying junk food and skinny people buying junk food. You’re probably thinking that fat people are self-conscious and embarrassed about being seen buying fatty foods, right? Wrong. This is where we are confident and sure of ourselves. How do you think we got fat in the first place? We know the food that’s tasty — sugar is tasty, carbs are tasty, bacon-wrapped chicken is tasty. We buy these foods, we eat these foods, and we have no anxiety about it. Skinny people need to worry about ballooning up, but for us fatties, it doesn’t really make a difference what we buy because we’re already fat. We think, “Well I already dug the hole. I might as well have a good time down here.” Basically, if my heart stopped right now, I would die happy knowing that I had fried rice for breakfast.
But during that last-minute grocery store rush fat and skinny came together. Everyone got to feel the bliss to buy whatever junk food they wanted — and it was a truly beautiful thing to see. I saw sorority girls buying four cans of icing and no cake batter. People were cleaning out the stockpiles of Lay’s potato chips. And in the corner by the family-sized packages of chicken thighs, I stood cackling like a half-forgotten nightmare filled with regret. It was awesome.
My deeper point is this: Amid the panic of snow just beginning to fall outside, we all became honest shoppers. People stopped caring about what they looked like buying four boxes of double-stuffed Oreos and used the moment to indulge. The bare truth unveiled itself: Deep down, we’re all a bunch fatties. Admit it — we all just want to stuff our faces with junk food, chips, cookies, and ice cream. Severe weather patterns trigger some primal fear of destruction that allows us to do so. It felt good having grocery store self-consciousness removed for the day, and we all shared a special moment fueled by fear and high calorie snacks. What more could you want out of life?
Sandor Mark is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a weekly columnist for the Daily Free Press. He can be reached at [email protected].