Tonight I went to see a show at the Southbank called Fat Blokes. With a name like that, there was no way I couldn’t. It was a show written by and starring one of the many gays I follow on Twitter. (I mainly follow gays on Twitter. They’re much better at it. Straights on Twitter just seem to talk about Brexit and superhero movies.)
It was great. It was a dance show of sorts. Five fat gay men in their underwear told stories about being fat and danced around. It was very therapeutic. Midway through the first dance, the star of the show stopped the music and berated the audience for laughing and informed us that the proper response to dancing is a whoop or a cheer or a wolf whistle or a clap. It’s not laughter. It was an electrifying way to start. And it made the rest of the show a hell of a lot sexier.
A lot of the audience were also fat men, but there were quite a few young artsy women and posh elderly couples who just go to the theatre regularly. I wondered what they got out of it. It was funny to be among my tribe, having betrayed them so recently with my surgery. I felt like Judas popping in to an apostles’ reunion, but it didn’t stop me enjoying it and identifying with it.
Some of you readers may remember that at one stage, this show was kind of my dream. When I first arrived in London, I was living in hostels, I was working part-time on zero hours teaching contracts. I had that miraculous feeling of having nothing to lose. I was delirious at discovering the world of chubby chasers. London seemed full of men who got erections when jiggled my moobs. I’d met individual chasers before, but this was different. London seemed abuzz with hordes of Connor-hungry men. I cooked up a plan. I was going to form a troupe of fat male strippers. I blogged about it. I posted about it on websites where fat gay men meet their chasers. But it never materialised. It wasn’t long before I wasn’t free any more. Now I have a massive London rent to pay and a permanent pensionable serious management job. I can’t just drop everything and be a fat stripper. So I watched this show thinking about how I would have done it.
It wasn’t a perfect show, but I loved it. I loved that they paused at the end of each dance and panted. Because that’s what fat people need to do after a dance. I loved that the climax involved just so much wobbling. I loved that they used a song from Beautiful Thing for the romantic dance. I loved that they were angry.
They were angry about being fat children, which is shit. And angry about being fat teenagers, which is shitter. They were angry about going to the doctor with a flu or eczema or a nosebleed and having your problem ignored while they lecture you about weightloss. They were angry about fat people’s bodies being filmed for news clips about obesity with our heads removed. They were angry about being called names and abused on the street.
I was waiting at a bus stop last night and a drunk man called me a “fat cunt”. I don’t usually like getting called names and on previous occasions I might have gone home very upset. It doesn’t happen that often, maybe five or six times a year, but when I’m out and about drunk people and/or children call me names relating to how fat I am. (When I lived in Vietnam, it was multiple times a day.) But when it happened last night, I didn’t get upset. I kind of internally chuckled. That drunk man doesn’t know it, but I’m less fat than I was last week. And next week I’ll be less fat again. And I didn’t feel as vulnerable as I usually do in those circumstances. I actually kind of felt happy when he called me that.
My life is now in a constant state of change. My underpants are all too big for me and keep slipping down and I find I’m constantly adjusting myself in inappropriate situations to keep comfortable.
One of the dances in the show tonight was about fat people who feel brave enough to eat in public. It’s something I’ve despised for a long time. I’ve always felt totally ashamed of myself when I’m seen eating. The last time I moved in with a friend I started a diet based around beans so I wouldn’t have to eat “normally” around her. When I lived in the horrible flat in Homerton and when I lived in hostels and when I lived with my Boys in Hall, I never used the kitchen and never ate with my flatmates. One of the biggest reasons I live alone and I struggle to imagine myself in a relationship is that I hate so so so much the idea of someone always knowing what I’m eating. When I go out for a meal with friends I invariably feel so guilty afterwards that I have to comfort myself by having another (less healthy) meal alone. At work, we have a canteen with free hot lunches for staff, so of course I eat there, but I find it hard and I used to always go out after eating in the canteen so I could be alone and have a second lunch sneakily in Sainsbury’s or Pret. I love love love that now I’m on a controlled diet I no longer have any of those feelings. When I’m on a diet, not only am I happy to be seen eating, I’m also happy to talk about what I’m eating. I’m just so much more comfortable and alive and not afraid of lunch.
I loved the show tonight. I love the idea of glorying in your fat body. But I also love that I’m losing my fat body too.