At least once a week around 7 p.m., I somehow come across the same overweight girl in my neighborhood, whether on the subway or in the street. And yes, she is always somehow talking about dinner, her primary, if only, post-work pleasure. One particular evening this week, she was very flustered, shouting on the phone to what I could only assume was her roommate–though these days, it’s pretty clear to me that only the most psychotic and/or unattractive people seem to be involved in a relationship. But, still, I was getting a very distinct “roommate” vibe from the conversation as she huffily shouted, “You put your shit in the oven, but not mine?!”
It was plain to see (and hear) that this girl’s life was so empty and unsatisfying that food was her chief–perhaps sole–source of solace. I could tell because I, too, could relate, could identify my own world-weariness and boredom in her. She never seemed to notice me studying her, or if she did, had no energy to care. She had short, stringy blonde hair and was often wearing a studded leather jacket. I don’t think she would be prettier if she lost weight, but it might be enough to make her happier because it would allure more men. Men tend to stop at the neck when it comes to “the male gaze.” Nonetheless, I’ve never really been one of those people to believe that you need another person to “complete you,” or that the presence of said person will make you feel that much less alone in the world. But maybe it would have for Megan–that’s what I finally discovered her name was one winter day in January when she dropped her wallet and picked it up without realizing her New York ID had fallen out. Megan Brondo. It was as unflattering as I expected. Why does it that your worst hunches about things always prove accurate? Yet it can never be something you use your so-called power of positive thinking to put out into the universe that comes to fruition.
In any case, Megan wasn’t even grateful that I called out to her to give her back her ID, merely nodded at me and mouthed a terse “thanks”; she was on the phone again, talking about a meatball cacciatore recipe she couldn’t wait to finish upon arriving home. The problem was, she just needed one more ingredient before she could serve herself up a plate: cayenne. It was then I saw her dip into a nearby Associated grocery store to search for it, still yapping away. No wonder her roommate didn’t put her food in the oven that one night. She was all take, take, take. You could tell by her conversation skills. Never once did she seem to pause to hear what the other person might have to say. I continued on my way past the store, knowing it would only be a matter of time before I saw her once again.
Surprisingly, however, almost a month went by without any sign of her, which was especially unusual considering I had begun to see her nearly twice a week the month prior. For a while, I forgot about her, finding others to hone in on and be irritated by. That is, until one day, upon perusing through headlines while riding the train, I saw an eye-catching title: “Brooklyn Woman Dies By Overeating”. It’s not the sort of death one hears about every day (unless you vaguely count Mama Cass), and my mind immediately went to Megan. I delved deeper into the contents of the article to find that, though the woman in question was unnamed, it mentioned that she had overeaten to death while her roommate was out of town. Surely, it must have been the same roommate she was always discussing her dinners with. The roommate came home to find the body three days after its demise. Funny how a body just becomes a sort of genderless “it” after death. I feel I didn’t need to read anything more to know it was Megan. Maybe she could no longer find comfort in food the way she used to. A woman unloved has so few pleasures to turn to besides cuisine, after all. Especially if she’s too rotund to truly enjoy the wearing of fashion. I felt a twang of sympathy for Megan. With roughly ten pounds more on my body, I could have been her.
I’ve got to stop eating bread, I insisted to myself as the train notified me of my stop.