THIS IS A WORK OF ORIGINAL FICTION
It will be serialized over the next several days…the ending will be marked in the classic styling…
“Found a fella for ya,” Meredith sang. Cori anted up an obligatory smile, but screamed inside at the prospect of another date with what Meredith deemed an appropriate man for her. Meredith’s sole criterion for fix ups for her was ‘fat,’ with no supplemental filter. The past few years, she’d gone out with six men Meredith found for her, presuming them a suitable pairing because they were both heavier than society’s ideal. Meredith surmised fairness would dictate an overweight man couldn’t reject Cori for being overweight. She meant well, but she was more than a bit misguided. Cori felt she couldn’t refuse the conscripted outings, because she was lonely, and turning away the offers might offend Meredith. Offending Meredith would mean losing her everyday lunching partner.
The first three blind dates had been nice enough guys, there was just no chemistry between them. Guy four was Dan, whom she did appraise as a hidden treasure, as he’d become a close friend. They practiced a circadian email ritual together, and discussed everything, not excluding their subsequent lousy dating experiences. Guys five and six ended…badly. Dan even had to scare guy six away for her.
Dan referred to guy five as Steakhouse Pete. He started out like all the other guys Meredith selected. They stumbled through some heavily censored conversation during a long wait for a table. When their server came, Pete ordered a twenty ounce steak, full fat dressing on his salad, and extra butter and sour cream on his baked potato. When she ordered a smaller cut of meat, no additional condiments, but everything else the same, and reached for a sour dough roll from the basket in front of them on the table, just as he did, things turned sharply south. “You should order lighter,” he said when the waiter walked away.
“You shouldn’t eat like that.”
“Neither should you.”
“Yeah. But normal girls will still be seen with me. Mer said you were ‘voluptuous,’ and I know what that really means, but hell…you aren’t even trying. Don’t you even care you look like that?”
“I’d think on a first date, you’d make some effort to make a good first impression. But I guess not.”
“’What the hell does that mean? What would me ordering an undressed salad and a water show you?”
“That you wanna change. But it’s like you wanna be The Fat Girl.”
Cori had no snappy comeback, and she picked at her meal while he wolfed his down and ordered cheesecake to finish, prolonging her torment. She forewent dessert, got a to-go box, rode home with him wordlessly, and ate her dinner reheated and alone in front of her television. Then, she polished off the remainder of a started half gallon of fat-free, no sugar added, chocolate frozen yogurt from her freezer. She cried through the last eight spoonfuls, but weeping didn’t stop her from shoveling them in.
Guy six was Steven. He lasted a few months, and she was ready to admit that maybe Meredith got one right, when the emotional mistreatment started. She remembered thinking, after permitting it to continue for a few weeks, that at least Pete had the decency to show his hypocritical distaste for her up front on their first date.
Steven presented as a perfect gentleman. They had immediate chemistry. Talking to him felt almost like talking to Jim used to feel, but unlike Jim, he seemed totally accepting of how she looked. She shared her first kiss since her first semester of college with him outside her apartment door after their third date. After six more weeks, she invited him to stay the night with her, and was nearly euphoric about it when, with her naked body against him in bed, he said, “You’re a lucky lady, Cor.”
She giggled, thinking him playfully arrogant. “I am, am I?”
“Yeah. Not too many guys would wanna tap that.”
The comment was so stunningly hurtful, she didn’t refute it, and didn’t have the strength to cut him loose, either. Those words got into her head and made a home there, and she began to believe them; that her choices were Steven, a man who made her feel ugly and unworthy, or being lonely. For three weeks, she made a daily choice for him, because ‘ugly and unworthy’ was superior to ’lonely, ugly, and unworthy.’
To: Corinne Gibson
From: Dan Hoffman
Subject: New Guy
So…how’s it going? Haven’t heard from you in weeks! WTH?! Are you so in love you can’t talk to your friends anymore or what? After that first month of messages, I thought you’d be telling me about ring shopping and shit by now. 😉
Re: New Guy
It’s going. No ring shopping.
Re1: New Guy
??? Being so short with me is TOTALLY out of character. What’s wrong? 😦
Re2: New Guy
Re3: New Guy
Uh-HUH, there is TOO something wrong. Are you mad at me? Swamped at work? Jim stuff again? Or is this New Guy acting like a douche? Don’t lie. I have like superhuman ability to spot bullshit.
Re4: New Guy
Wanna have lunch tomorrow?
Subject: I Do Not Like The New Guy
Question answered with avoidance and distraction. Lunch TODAY. 1 at Savory Sandwich ok?
Re: I Do Not Like The New Guy
I’ll be there.
“So, let’s talk about The New Guy…or is it Jim again? I know it’s not work or you wouldn’t have suggested lunch.” Dan pinched his face with concern.
“It’s mostly Steven. But I guess it’s kinda still a little bit Jim. It’s sort of the same problem.”
“What’s going on?”
“Things with Steven were going well, I thought, and so I…got involved…”
“During was pretty good the first time. After is the problem.”
“You lost me. Just…say it.”
“He told me I’m lucky to have him ’cause nobody else wants me.”
“He said what?! Ok, really fucking don’t like the new guy.”
“He’s kinda right, though, isn’t he?”
“No, he’s not right! You’re awesome. That fucker is the lucky one. He ought to get down on his knees every night and thank God you’ll even speak to him. Do not have that shit. Wait…the first time? Did you sleep with him again?”
“Yes. He’s still…around,” she sighed, exasperated with herself.
“Because…I’m lonely, and…I dunno. I just craved human contact. Even with a sub-par human, I guess.”
“You should end it right now.”
“I can’t end it over text.”
“Proof you’re too good for him right there.”
“You’re a sweetheart, but he has a point. Jim doesn’t want me because…” She sighed heavily.
“Hey. Don’t do that,” He tenderly tapped her on her elbow. “You sound like you don’t even like yourself.”
“Sometimes I don’t.”
“When do you not like yourself? When some asshole tells you you shouldn’t?”
“Yeah. And when people stare at me at the gym. And when The Man of My Dreams invites me to ride The Screamin’ Demon and the goddam lap bar won’t latch. I’m tired of the shell I’m in limiting and defining what I can do. And who likes me. Including me.”
“I like you, if that counts at all.”
“Aw. It counts a bunch, Dan.”
“End it with this guy.”
“When? Can’t be soon enough.”
“He’s coming over tonight.”
“Let me know how it goes.”
“I can do that now: shitty. Best case is I’m back to being an Obese Outcast.”
“Text me later, huh? Hate it when you’re down. You know…if youwanna try to lose some weight…I’ll do it with you.”
“You don’t need to change anything about yourself. You’re awesome just the way you are.”
“So are you. But you’re unhappy. I am too. Everybody can improve themselves, right? You and me…we’re so great, all we have to work on is the outside. We’ll just be more awesome. Unfair awesome. We’ll be all this awesome, plus fit and universally appealing. And maybe happy.”
Steven arrived at Cori’s apartment, expectant and prepared for sex. They hadn’t gone anywhere but her place for two weeks; he no longer felt wooing her necessary. He made a not-so-subtle move for her bedroom upon entering. He didn’t touch, kiss, or even speak a sentence to her first.
“Steven?” She verbally stopped his forward progress to his blatant annoyance. “We need to talk.”
“Jesus. Did you really just say that?”
“There’s nothing for you in the bedroom. I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
“You know you can’t do better than me.” He staunchly stood closer than her to the bedroom, and farther from the door. Although he’d not been physically abusive, she was afraid of the term ‘yet,’ and didn’t want him passing her to exit. She was afraid he would refuse to exit.
“I think you should go,” she bravely stated.
“You can think whatever you want.” He still didn’t budge, and her fear amplified exponentially.
She turned away, nonchalantly pulled her phone from her pocket, and sent a quick, desperate text to Dan.
-C- Scared he won’t leave. Please help me. 😦 –
Dan lived slightly less than five minutes’ drive time from her, which they shared a laugh about on their awkward-turned-friendly blind date. He turned his eyes from his television and Lean Cuisine to his phone with a smile on his face. R2D2’s cute set of beeps, whistles, and chirps from the Star Wars movies sounded; his specialty text alert for Cori. His text alert on her phone was Chewbacca’s growl. He revealed her new message, expecting to read, “Well, it’s over. Wanna go out for froyo?” but instead, replaced his cheerful grin with a worried grimace, and abandoned his dinner to rush to her aid.
“There’s s-somebody else,” she stammered to Steven back at her apartment.
“Yeah. ‘Jim.’ I’m sure all it took for him to get over his nausea looking at you was for you to date someone else for a while,” he sarcastically answered.
“Not Jim. Another man. A really good man that told me not to take your shit,” she honestly asserted, and a twinge of realization struck her. Dan really was a good man that appreciated her for who she was, but would accept evolution. He was willing to evolve with her. She summoned his smooth, baritone voice saying, ‘You’re awesome.That fucker is the lucky one…’ to calm herself, and her hope that he’d soon arrive became colored by more than fear.
“Yeah, clearly you hafta fend ’em off. Now you’re making somebody up to try and scare me. Pathetic, Cor. Making my point for me.”
“Please go now. I’m serious, Steven. I don’t wanna see you anymore.”
“Yeah, you do. You know what your odds are to find some other guy charitable or hard up enough to spend time with you? You’ll probably never find anyone else willing to take you to bed…”
Dan savagely knocked on Cori’s apartment door. “Cori!? You ok?!”
She said a silent prayer of gratitude and opened up to him, harried and pleading. “Just go along with me, please,” she whispered. His nod of conspiracy was nearly imperceptible, but she saw it. “Steven, this is Dan. He’s…um…he’s…”
“The better man,” Dan confidently stated, stepping between Steven and Cori. “Think she asked you to leave, pal. So why are you still here?”