Tuesday, July 31, 2007

..and nothing but.

I was just walking down to my local Subway for some 'nutritious' dinner, when I was stopped in my visual tracks by this woman walking in the other direction with some guy.

It was a sight to behold. She was a sight to behold.

She was a 'chubby' Asian, short and stocky. She was wearing bright lemon-yellow pants with buckles all over them, and they were spray-on-super-tight.
Accompanying this ocular delight was the exact same coloured jacket, also replete with buckles, only about 2 sizes too small.
Top this off with (yes, you guessed it) exactly the same coloured calf-high boots, buckles galore.

Seriously, I choked as I struggled to withhold a laugh.

What made it all the more hilarious, was that she was totally uncomfortable. It was utterly obvious that she was a sum of parts. It wasn't her - it was her fantasy prescription.
Hell, she couldn't even walk properly. Whether that be from her ridiculously inappropriate (for the terrain) high heels, or because her leg movement was being utterly constricted by the tensile pressure of her pants, or because each and every step was an exercise in genital pain, I will never know.
Oh and adding to the comic relief were her oversized and dorky horn-rimmed glasses bestowed smack in the middle of her huge moon-shaped face.

It's truly hard to put into words.

Anyhow, point being that right there and then I was faced with a dilemma:
Do I say something, out of kindness for her fashion affiliation?
Or do I walk on by, it being none of my business after all.

And besides, who am I to judge 'fashion'? Or does this transcend hawt and become nothing about fashion and everything about being just 'wrong'?
Is there such a thing as a golden baseline that transcends the sublimely ridiculous?

It got me thinking about The Truth vs Being Nice.

Where do you draw the line? Are you being more 'honest' and helpful by saying what everybody else is thinking, or is their pride worth more than the silent ridicule of others?

You know exactly what I'm talking about - all those times you've ever been placed in a position whereby your social training overrides the truthful answer:

"Does my ass look big in these?"

Oh dear. I mean, the only reason anyone asks this question is because they look at their rear in the mirror and see a postcode-sized mass forcibly squeezed into a tailored piece of cloth that has every stitch hanging on for dear life.
They know it, and you know it. The question only exists because everyone involved knows it.

Yet, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't - right?
"Yeh you're right! Those pants look like they're about to explode!" would go down like a fart in an astronaut suit. Yet, the atypical answer of "No no no. They look - great! *gulp" is about as mean and horrid as you can get, on many levels:-
  • it's just plain untrue (liar - lying to your partner for instance)
  • it's totally unfair (each and every person to come across said 'ass' that night in public will be thinking exactly the same thing - ridicule in other words)
  • you're setting an emotional benchmark in the mind of the Large Ass Bearer that they will reference forever and a day ("hmm - that's good - these don't look bad, so I can take it a little further even..")
It's just.. wrong.

What's the value of short-term pain over long-term gain (reality) in this case?


Same goes for 'large' folk. You know, those of us who are blessed with the body mass of three. Or more.
What on earth are the rest of us supposed to do - pretend that what we're looking at isn't really there??

I've had a couple of memorable encounters with this one over the course of my years.
The first was with a friend. She was an absolute classic. Being Dutch, she was no stranger to the term 'brutal honesty'. In fact to this day, I tip my hat in her general direction for that alone.

Imagine this:
My mother is a little large. She's a very pretty woman, and in her youth she was dainty and porcelain-like. The march of time has ravaged her to within a few inches of her life on many occasions, and as such she is no longer the slight of a woman she once was.

I brought my new friend to the family home to meet the parents. Anyone who has been through this will relate to how nerve wracking the situation is.

We walked into the lounge to be greeted by my mother and father standing there. My first words were: "Mum, Dad; this is Jane Doe, my friend." "Jane Doe, meet Jack and Jill, my parents."

Her
first words were: "Hello Jill. Wow, you're really pretty in the face. You could stand to lose a couple of pounds though?"

*silence....

You could slice the air with a knife.

Hell, I could've sliced my wrists with a knife at that point.

I looked at my father, who was always meek and obtusely self-fladulating around my mother for various reasons (if not simply to provide entertainment for the rest of us), and he kinda gave me a look in reply that said "Ok - for once I'm stumped.. umm, pass?"

Whilst we all stood there for what seemed like an eternity, all eyes fell to my mother who was quite obviously processing the words of my wife-to-be from all possible angles. Likely, in that short time frame, my Mother had already visualised my entire friendship to this new Dutch person from go to whoa, and it most probably wasn't a pretty picture.

The next thing we know, it's us standing around with our jaws on the floor, looking in disbelief at my Mother who had just said:
"Oh you're quite right. You know I used to be quite the pretty thing when I was your age. Now there's more of me for Jack to get his hands on - at least it keeps them busy! Sit down, sit down and I'll go make us all a cup of coffee."

Wow.
The look that passed between my Father and I that day will never ever be topped.

Looking back on it now, it's quite amazing. My Mother and my ex got along famously from that point onwards (to this very day in fact) and more than that, my Mother will only ever open up to my ex. If there's something deep and meaningful, or personal, that my Mother wishes to discuss, it's my ex that will get the phone call. There's a special place in mum's heart for her.
Interesting, huh.

There was another, more recent, incident whereby I was forced into the dilemma of truth vs pleasantry. (I've mentioned this elsewhere, on another blog, but it bears repeating here..)

Not so far back I was required to go to London for work. Which, as you know, means enduring a painfully long flight.

As luck would have it, I got seated next to one of the largest women I'd ever laid eyes upon.
Knowing that doing nothing would result in 24 hours of total hell, I broke the ice up front and said:
"Hi, I'm Steve." (extend hand)
"This may come across as rude, but it's not intended to be. We've gotta be as comfortable as possible for the next day.."

and she interrupted me at that point, over talking me with:

"I'm Sara." (she smiled)
It's ok - I'm not the smallest person I know, but I'm the nicest."

I really didn't know what to say, so I just smiled.

"Just be honest with me if I leak into your seat ok?"

..and with that we both cracked up laughing.

It was one of the best flights I've ever had. Not because I had space (as I most certainly did not) but because we were both relaxed the entire way.
No unspoken crap, no uncomfortable silences, and believe it or not I even asked her to move a little at one point when I was trying to catch some sleep mid-flight.

It was great. Hell, she was great.

It's always an interesting dilemma, and I'm sure you must've come across it before. Maybe next time it comes up, you'll think twice about how you're going to reply, or even more-so, whether or not you're honest enough to say what it is that everyone else on the planet will be thinking.

The truth, the whole truth, and..

..well, that's up to you. =)

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20 Comments:

At 3:00 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Am I fat?"
"Yes"
"/cry"
"Well you asked"
"You didn't have to agree"
"So you'd rather I lie?"
"No?"
"Then why did you ask?"
"Becasue I was feeling fat and I wanted to be cheered up"
"Ok, you're not fat"
"Now your lying!"

I give up.

 
At 3:13 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Pez said...

Tell me about it, anonymous. There's no winning that one.

I agree with Zarres. When you're confronted by a vision of largeness standing in front of you, it's not like it's NOT THERE.

I'm not suggesting it's open slather for mockery, but the opposite is equally benign. Why does society force us to pretend that the very thing we are looking at does not exist?
Face it - you're FAT. Period.
There may be a hundred reasons as to why a person is overweight, and some of them may be beyond the fault of the individual (medical etc) but the fact remains.
It's almost more embarrassing having to be involved in the social ruse of trying to avoid or disarm the subject, than it is just to confront it.

This reminds me of the same reasoning behind your posts on religion Zarres.
I thought games were the place for suspension of disbelief?

As for the fashion disasters, my partner and I often take a walk in the park purely to have fun at other's fashion expense. It's always an entertaining (and elitist) outing.

 
At 3:20 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well i have a weight problem and I get sick and tired of people like you making fun at my expense. I suffer from depression ad before that I was average weight.
I suggest you walk a mile in someones shoes before you have a go at them.

 
At 3:21 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..they'd be too big.

 
At 3:26 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Pez said...

Leap down everyone's throat to garner pity, why don't you, Anonymous#2?

You're typical of someone with a chip on their shoulder seeking blame everywhere but within.

Zarres isn't having a go at overweight people. He's raising the issue of acknowledging it socially.

Read before you post next time maybe?

(PS: I walked a mile in your shoes. Now I'm a mile away. And I have your shoes. I feel complete.)

 
At 3:38 pm, August 01, 2007, Blogger Zarres said...

Correct.
My thoughts in this post are around the reality of a situation vs the social conforms placed upon us that dictate behaviour opposite to what's staring us in the face.

That's all.

(okay I may also be displaying elitism, or possibly even hypocrisy, on the subject of Fashion but hey: since when is fashion not subjective, or ripe for picking apart?? Hindsight allows us to laugh at it - why can't I get a damn good bellyache now instead?)

 
At 3:46 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Rigel68 said...

Another great read from the man.
Very entertaining.
:-)

 
At 3:51 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Lucy With Diamonds said...

"great read"?????
The author is clearly living in a bubble and cares about nothing but himself.
Good on you for making fun of others problems, not.
/ignore.

 
At 3:56 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anti-Dumb said...

Lucy, you belong up in the sky, not down here in reality.
Clearly you either haven't read the article, or you suffer from a double digit IQ and don't understand it.

Make you angry, did it?
Reactive and uncontrollable urge to reply because your blood boiled by chance?
And how do you /ignore something that you've read already?

Calm down. You'll pop a vein in your forehead. Oh and go away.

 
At 4:06 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous burger fan said...

The economy needs fat people. Well, here in the US anyhow.

It's like if electric cars got invented there'd be no need for oil. That ain't going to happen anytime soon.

If everybody was slim, there'd be no market for slim fast now products and schemes.

Fatties are the easiest and most lucrative to market to because they have no willpower and are easy and repetitive prey for marketeers.

Stay fat!!! I enjoy the benefits of a healthy GDP!

 
At 4:11 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I wouldn't have put it quite so obtusely, but I agree that there's a certain amount of 'preying upon fears' that goes on in that industry.
Quite sad when viewing it from the outer..

 
At 4:21 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Beboboy said...

to hell with FAT i wanna talk about FASHION CRIMES!!!! o_0

i regularly piss my pants at the shit some people wear and i always wonder what the hell was going thru there mind when they were getting dressed!

what is with some people are they blind??

 
At 4:37 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently.
What they see in the mirror is what they want to see. Not what everyone else sees.

I agree with the theme of this post. To save somebody from ridicule is a greater challenge than to be 'nice', but more worthwhile in the end.

Go with what you know to be right, not what's nicer.

 
At 4:40 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Right' is subjective. What if your 'right' isn't the same as everybody else's?

 
At 4:45 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True but that's not what I meant.
I meant this in context to talking with a friend who had obviously asked you because they trust you and they are interested in your honest opinion.
If you are a true friend you will be honest with them.
Also if you look at them and they look ridiculous then it is safe to assume that your tastes are within the known bounds of the social circle you mix in. Therefore it's also safe to assume that your judgment will be in favor of the person asking your opinion.

I'm not sure about doing the same for complete strangers though ;)

 
At 5:22 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous sunrise_yuna said...

I think it all points to people being non-confrontational these days. zarres mentions it in his 'jolly roger' post to some extent, where its just safer to shut the hell up than voice your opinion.

A sad sign of sad times if you ask me.

Im but a statistic on a chart somewhere, and even if i decide to rock the boat, I'll just be a different statistic on a less-populated chart somewhere else.

 
At 6:17 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

true that.

 
At 11:48 pm, August 01, 2007, Blogger Zarres said...

Well, yes.
It would seem that in today's world, one encounters less resistance and more praise by being lethargic on the tall poppy front.
This is most definitely true in a corporate sense anyhow.

But I agree in that a lot of folk appear to be scared of rocking the boat (via my observation anyhow), yet I bet they don't even know why. As in, they're probably not even sure of what it is they should be afraid of, were they to do so.

It's the same theme I broach in my post about the recent Melbourne shooting, and it appears in my 'Santa Christ' ramblings as well.

What the fuck have we become? Moral clones? (is that an oxymoron right there?? lol)

 
At 2:40 am, August 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone needs to tell fat women that wearing pants is just wrong. Wear a dress for god's sake! Save our eyes!
:-o

 
At 3:06 am, August 02, 2007, Anonymous radical grimson said...

From VA's site:

Q:
My weight is none of your business. What right do you have to comment on my obesity? What do you have against fat people anyway?

A:
You don’t live in a vacuum. Other people do suffer the ramifications of your poor choices. For example, as you drop dead in droves from heart attacks, the price of my health insurance increases. Consider that.

Furthermore, I don’t have a problem with fat people. I can actually forgive a lot of indiscretion if one is at least pleasant company. Fat men are generally pretty jolly folk. Fat women, on the other hand, are bitter insecurity ridden hags. So, fuck them.

 

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