In 2012, Emmy Monsignor was a little bit, well, rotund. It was the drink and the fact that most of these said drinks came with free pizza or hot dogs that became irresistible after a certain amount of alcoholic consumption. Twas the nature of being a bar troll. She was not, as her boyfriend, Bennett Porter, would call her a few months later, “a specimen.” Yet the manner in which he looked her naked body up and down and said it with sincerity made her believe that maybe she really was.
One morning, after awakening before him when he had, in a moment of weakness, decided to spend the night at her apartment instead of his far superior one, Emmy couldn’t help looking at herself unclothed in the full-length mirror. Maybe she truly was “Botticelli-worthy,” as Bennett also liked to say (she later realized this was the pretentious man’s insult for “fat”).
This feeling was immediately negated when, on her way to the subway, she accidentally bumped into a male passerby who screamed at her, “Watch where the fuck you’re goin’, you fat bitch!” No, she was not a specimen. But that Bennett could be enamored of her anyway made her feel a combination of amazing and terrible. On the one side of the coin, there was Bennett loving her in spite of her physical shortcomings, which meant he truly “saw” her for what was inside, but on the other, some part of her couldn’t help but think he was settling. And she had to ask herself: why? It wasn’t as though the ratio of men to women left him without ample choice, as though he couldn’t pick anyone more attractive than both him and her thanks to the barrage of insecure females aspiring to be something of some sort that came to the city in droves each year.
It was only later, after he had tossed her out like so much dead lettuce that she unearthed the true reason for why he fancied her so much, saw her as a specimen. It was because, well, he was a Renaissance fetishist. It went hand in hand with his unique brand of pomposity, which Emmy didn’t start to notice until about a year in to their relationship, when he balked at her for not buying him Ben Sherman shirts instead of “discount” ones from Top Man, or when he asserted that he would only dine at Zagat-rated restaurants (a very Patrick Bateman trait indeed).
Maybe that was why, when she started to go to the gym to counterbalance the light alcoholism she had developed from working in a cubicle for $35,000 a year, Bennett started to take less of a sexual interest in her. Their usual five times a week status dwindled to two–if she was lucky and managed to make her fat jiggle enough. She chalked it up to what happens to all monogamous couples after a time: they simply become too familiar to each other, ergo rather a bore both in body and in mind. Except that Bennett still very much enjoyed having “intellectual” conversations with her, intellectual meaning he talked at her about the latest Wall Street Journal article he read.
She continued to lose weight with surprising rapidity, cutting out bread from her diet, though still succumbing to roughly a bottle of wine a night for medicinal purposes. It was when her paunch deteriorated altogether that Bennett couldn’t even bring himself to caress her unclothed body.
“I’m just so exhausted from the day, hon,” he would insist, even though all he did was go to the Financial District and talk on the phone about deals for a living. Soon, he stayed late every weeknight in FiDi (these New York neighborhood names too easily get people to revert to baby talk–maybe because New York reverts one to a state of infancy). She knew then it was her body he was repulsed by. That it was no longer plump enough to be admired.
Her suspicions weren’t fully confirmed, however, until she looked through Bennett’s phone and found on his calendar an address with no specifications other than he was to be there at 8:00 pm the following Wednesday. Located on the Upper West Side, Emmy made the decision to tail him there, feeling very much like Jonathan Ames in Bored to Death except with ever so slightly more discretion.
The address, she soon discovered, was an apartment, and several men of Bennett’s aesthetic seemed to be entering at the same time. She had to find out what was going on inside or she would quite literally die of curiosity. Waiting until the last possible second, she paused long enough for all the men to funnel in, and slipped in just as the door was about to close completely. Surprisingly, there was no doorman to slow her down or give her the third degree. Doormen, they’re all so fucking power hungry.
She secreted away in a corner until the elevator dinged to indicate its closure, then popped out to gauge which floor the men were exiting to. The eighth floor, as it turned out.
Emmy soon made her way to this destination, listening for distinct sounds of revelry emanating from behind any of the apartments. But she heard nothing, and there was no trace of Bennett and his strange brethren anywhere. With no other option except to press her ear against each door, Emmy at last detected some faint activity behind Apartment #814. At first almost inaudible, she could soon overhear the singular sound of a mandolin being played.
Aching with the desire to know what type of activity Bennett was involved with, Emmy decided to turn the handle of the door, elated to find it unlocked. What she saw going on behind the ingress was more than she could fully process. The men had all donned Renaissance garb, complete with billowy-sleeved shirts, puffy pants, doublets, jerkins and feathered hats. And at the center of the room, dancing to the sound of the mandolin was the fattest woman Emmy had ever seen, completely nude.
It took several seconds before Bennett noticed her, so transfixed was he by the shimmying blubber before him. But when he did visually remark upon her presence in the room, all he could do was shrug. He didn’t bother to get up, or draw the other men’s attention to her. He didn’t care anymore. She was, as far as he was concerned, thin enough to be non-existent.