We're still fat
by Jon Worley
I don't get out amongst the peeps as much as I should. I get stuck in my inner-ring suburban existence, and I forget how the rest of America lives. Then I end up at Disney World. And I get reminded all over again.
We weren't even planning to go to Orlando last week. My wife's brother lives near Cape Canaveral (where he works), and we planned our week around the Kennedy Space Center, the beach and the visit. But my wife's parents insisted that we take Max and Sam to Disney World (the Magic Kingdom, to be specific), so we did.
So we got there at nine. At nine-thirty, we were standing in the line at the Dumbo ride. And there were four proud Americans, gnawing on turkey legs.
Turkey legs. At nine fucking thirty in the morning.
The real irony of this, of course, is that turkey legs are relatively low fat. Yes, they're dark meat, but they're not ribs or fried macaroni and cheese or anything like that.
We did not plan to buy food at the Magic Kingdom. My wife packed snacks, lunch, etc. And it is to Disney's credit that you're allowed to bring in your own food and drink, as long as there's no alcohol. Of course, I'm not paying seventy-five bucks a head if I can't bring my own food. But that's another story.
A family pounding turkey legs. At nine-thirty in the morning.
I'm not svelte. I'm five-eleven in Doc Martens, and 180 is a generous estimate as to my weight. But my 32-inch waist is apparently a bit too thin for Costco, where it is almost impossible to find such an outlandishly waspish size in the men's furnishings. Really. I spent fifteen minutes trying to find my size amongst the pile of shorts at one table. I ended up buying the only pair of 32s in the store--though they've worked out fine. So I can't complain too much.
But here I am, a guy whose BMI pushes the "overweight" line, almost unable to buy clothing at one of the largest retailers in the nation. Yikes.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece similar to this one after visiting a water park near Greensboro, N.C. I figured that it was simply easier to see how massive Americans has become when they were forced to wear nothing but bathing suits. Unfortunately, this theory is completely wrong. One day at Disney completely turned me around. Easily two-thirds of the people at the park were well past overweight and pushing obese. I think I saw three or four guys my age whose pecs pushed out further than their bellies (I do fit into this category, if only marginally). By and large, though, the spread was more than apparent. People are positively mountainous these days.
I don't see these people every day. The folks I know fall all over the map. Skinny folks, average folks, heavy folks--there's simply no preponderance of anything other than average. The kids I know are all in shape. They run around at school, they run around after school, they run around on the weekends. My son Max is now 90th percentile in height and 50th in weight. He's skinny. He's seven. He's supposed to be skinny. The kids on his soccer team (I know, a self-selecting group) are all skinny. We're active people with active kids. And so when I step out of the protective bubble, I'm shocked to see the mass of America.
Yes, I've read the stories. I've heard the pronouncements. But all that just doesn't jibe with my general experience. The kids I know aren't fat. By and large, neither are their parents. And most of the folks I know who are "large" are also active, so they're fairly toned. They don't move or act like people who are carrying extra weight.
And yes, I know that there are people who have medical conditions that affect their weight. I have good friends in this situation. But they're also active. They don't move like the next step might induce a heart attack.
Oh yeah--you can find the location of every defibrillator in Disney World on your handy map. Really. There's a little icon with a lightning bolt. Next time I go, I expect to find an open-heart surgery clinic on site.
I'm not writing this to castigate the "weight-challenged." That would be mean. I've never had to worry about my weight, and my genes have a lot to do with that. My body doesn't digest fat very well, which means I can eat as many turkey legs as I want without gaining an ounce. I'm in no position to throw stones.
But good grief. There are far too many fat Americans out there. I saw hundreds of teenagers whose girth dwarfed mine. That's just not right. We're sitting on our asses way too much. And, yeah, we're eating too many turkey legs.
The only thing that bothers me more than the image of that family pounding those turkey legs at nine-thirty in the morning is the obvious fact that the turkey leg vendor knows there will be ready business for his wares as soon as the park opens at eight in the morning.
I really do need to get out more.
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