My sweetie had put on weight.
I wasn't shocked. Keeping the pounds off is one of the challenges of getting older. It’s a challenge that many of us don’t meet. Next time you’re hanging with your crowd, look around. Plump is the new normal.
When we met, decades ago, Mike was just my type. Tall, lean and muscular. Like Batman, without the bulk. (Or the crazy vigilante attitude.) But now he was starting to look less like Batman and more like Buddha.
So what happens when you fall for sexy young Marlon Brando and, years later, find yourself living with mammoth middle-aged Marlon Brando? Or you wed young Elvis, but it looks as if you’ll be celebrating your 30th wedding anniversary with Fat Elvis?
Weight happens. But, if you really love your partner, don’t you owe it to them to stay in shape?
Yeah maybe. But you have to be reasonable. Maybe your wife was slim when you married. But after a couple of decades and a couple of kids, should you really expect a Jennifer Aniston look-a-like when the clothes come off?
I have a pal whose wife has gained twenty pounds since they tied the knot two decades ago. Lean, health-conscious Jerry is always fussing at Greta to drop those pounds (ostensibly for health reasons) even though she can cite a bunch of scientific evidence that says that incremental middle-aged weight gain may actually be good for your health.
“Greta asked what I wanted for our anniversary,” he told me recently, “So I asked if she’d consider dropping a dress size.”
“How did that work out for you?”
“Not so great -- she didn’t speak to me for 3 days.”
If Jerry wants his wife to talk to him? He's going to have to adjust.
For years, Mike and I both stayed lean and fit. Then, for family reasons, he had to move to West Virginia.I now think of West Virginia as “The Weight Gain State” because, after living there for months, my man became stout.
A better woman would respond with, “Not a problem! Now there’s more of you to love!”
Unfortunately, I’m not so wonderful. When my beloved moved back north with a tummy, I gently expressed my feelings. “I know that I’m being superficial,” I said, “but dudes who look like Santa in the sack are a great big turn-off for me.”
“I’ll lose the weight,” he promised. He confessed that he didn’t feel so good about being portly himself. And he did drop a few pounds. Then gained them back again.
That tummy, it seemed, was here to stay.
Did I adjust to this new, larger version of my sweetie in a mature way, relying on the wisdom I’d accumulated over six decades of life, resolving that he's is such a wonderful guy that I could overlook a few extra pounds?
Maybe on the outside. I never yelled “Hey, Fatty!" when Mike entered the room. And I stopped nagging him. Still? I never stopped longing for him to lose that weight.
Relationship Guru Dan Savage once stated that we owe it to our partners to stay in shape. If you let yourself go, you’re signaling that you just don’t care. “I know what you want,” you’re telling your beloved, “But you won’t get it from me.”
I'd kept trim and fit. Wasn't it only fair that Mike, too, keep trim and fit. Yeah, but what if he can’t?
Was I supposed to overlook the fact that a dude who once looked like a superhero now looked like Winnie the Pooh? Let our relationship return to the intense but platonic friendship it was when it began?
Shut my eyes and think of Batman?
Well, as it turns out, the joke was on me. Four years ago I found out that Mike, the man I'd love and trusted for two decades, had a secret girlfriend on the side for 10 years. Gaining weight was something I could live with. But a decade of infidelity?
I kicked him out, changed the locks, found a good therapist and got on with my life.
So now I'm online dating. Maybe I'll find somebody as wonderful as Mike seemed to be. An honest, loving man with a Batman body. But if I find a wonderful, trustworthy guy with a Pooh Bear paunch, am I going to turn him down?
What do you think?