A while ago I wrote a story that was a complete departure from my usual style. I have been accused, quite rightly too, of writing very sad and depressing stuff. Ironically, this story started out that way as well. I had hoped to display the underbelly of the celebrity culture that has seeped into our consciousness. However, like I mentioned before, my protagonist had other ideas. Sad turned into silly, and serious into sarcastic. Consequently, “Huge” was born. It was shortlisted in the Ink tears annual short story competition. Here it is:
It’s sitting there innocuously- that delicious piece of confectionery. Dark, molten chocolate encased in a crackling shell of praline loveliness.
It’s sitting there tantalising me with its smoothness, its roundness, its sheer perfection. All it would take would be a little stretch of the arm- and within no time, it would be in my mouth, melting all its lusciousness within.
Yet, I’m sitting here, glaring at it. Knowing that this piece and all its brothers and sisters sitting in that box that arrived anonymously….is pure sabotage.No sugar has crossed these lips in three months. All it would take is one bite….just a teensy weensy one….and it is a slippery slope,my friend.
It wasn’t always this way.There was a time when it was effortless. When my boobs bounced as I walked, emphasising my tiny waist. A time when the men whistled at my ass. Hell! I was one hot chick before I even knew that I was one.
I was spotted at the Mall, when I was all of fourteen.There we were, just hanging. The three of us, doughnuts in hand,checking out the boys. This man came up to us, torn jeans, a T shirt that had a flaming guitar on it.
“How old are you?”, he asked, looking me up and down.
“What’s it to you?”, I shot back, checking him out. Not half bad I thought. I was in the market for a boyfriend.
He laughed, and handed me a card. “Call me”, he winked and walked away, whistling.
I clutched at the card, gawping at his retreating back. When I finally looked at it, it had the name of an agency written in a discreet black script.
Modelling! My friends teased me mercilessly (and a little jealously).Pa didn’t want to know. Ma just spitefully spat out, “What’s so special about you??” If it hadn’t been for Nanna, I would still be in Hicksville. Nanna, who packed my little case, who paid my bus fare to the city, who kissed me goodbye, and wished me luck.
Modelling was a hard world. It was the time of the Supers. Super long legs, super toned bodies….and there was little ole me. All T & A (Tits and Ass). Needless to say, not a lot of catwalk work came my way. Dreams of Milan and Paris stayed just that- Dreams. I got good catalogue work though. There was a lot of standing around, looking very happy in dreary clothes for dull housewives. Decent money but I was bored,bored,bored.
Then I met Nina. She was as fair as I was dark. As experienced as I was fresh.Her blue eyes had a mischievous twinkle that only hinted at the crazy chick that lived within.We were paired in a catalogue shoot, and I couldn’t stay immune to her gregarious nature for too long.
“Hey Hun! Whatcha doin’ after the shoot tonight?”
” B-O-R-I-N-G!! Why don’t you come out with me? I could show you some sights.”
Boy, did she show me some sights!
So I started to party. We went out every night, my gal, Nina, and I. We hit all the hot spots. We were young, gorgeous and life was one big carnival. I did all that there was to do. Drugs- check. Booze-check. Men- oooh! Double check!! It was a mad,bad and exciting world…and I was luvvvving it!
Soon after, I met Barry. Older,successful,married. It was a potent combination and I fell hard. He told me to quit partying and I did. He told me to stop modelling, and I did. Had he told me to take up crocheting, I probably would’ve.
I was a kept woman, and I revelled in it. Barry loved me. He lavished me with jewellery from Tiffany’s, scarves from Hermes, bags from Chanel. My every wish was his command. I was nineteen, and I was living a life that my friends would’ve given their left arms for. Nina warned me though.
“Hun, you’re just his plaything. Have fun with it, but don’t give up the day job.”
I dismissed it as jealousy. What did she know? He was going to leave his wife and kids. Of course he was. She couldn’t give him what he wanted. I could and did….and often. The fact that the sex was funny and he had me do….Oh! I won’t go there. Small price to pay.
Then I fell pregnant. “Who’s the father?”, he demanded viciously, before turning me out into the street. (Didn’t even get to keep a measly scarf!).
Homeless and jobless, I turned to Nina. She turned the other way. There were only so many couches I could sleep on before all the favours had been called in.
It was an easy slide into the world of “Glamour Modelling”. Not a lot of glamour, but a lotta lotta skin.I wasn’t showing yet, but I figured, might as well make the moolah uncovering the assets that I’d previously made money covering up. Also, there was a charitable element to it. Wasn’t I bringing a bit of joy into the lives of sad, lonely men?
I would lie there, in those crummy studios, with all my bits on display. I would zone out. Beam myself right onto a beach with a margarita in my hand. I wouldn’t even feel the hands groping me, “adjusting” me, propping me up, so that the camera could get an eyeful.
These days, I could’ve launched a career off the back of it. Look at Hef’s girls…Celebrities in their own right. But that was back then… Glamour modelling was seedy; something girls from “nice” families didn’t do. Although nice isn’t what I would’ve called my lot.
I lost the baby at a shoot. I still remember the look of horror on the photographer’s face.
“What the fucking hell,man?! Get her off the bed! SHIT!! The sheets are ruined…”
I was a 100 pounds when I started to comfort eat. Pa would chew his tobacco and watch me silently. Ma would surreptitiously replace the empty tubs of ice creams with new ones. Nanna would weep silently and pluck at my hair saying, ” Oh Child, oh my pore child…”
My food orgy lasted a year, and at the end of it I was 224 lbs and officially huge. I lived in Pa’s XXL T shirts watching daytime TV till my eyes hurt. My thighs chafed when I walked. My tummy wobbled and I could no longer see my feet in the shower. I was twenty two.
At first my friends came to visit.
“Well, I always told ya it wasn’t a good idea to run off to the city!”, smirked Cindy, bouncing her two year old on her knee, while Liz and Kay nodded in agreement. ” You coulda been married, and happy….”
I looked at her too tight dress, the dribbly baby, and the shiner she was hiding under acres of concealor, and turned away.
They soon stopped coming over.
Nanna would urge me to eat less.
“Go exercise child! Go for a walk. I’ll come with ya”
I tried a few times, Nanna hobbling painfully behind me. Nanna fell ill, and TV took over again.
I started my first diet the day after Nanna died. I ate nothing.
New York City didn’t frighten me as much the second time round. The castings did. I felt a hundred years old next to the sixteen year olds with their fresh faces and pliable bodies. I was way past my sell by date, and boy, they weren’t shy about telling me.
Television was slightly more forgiving. A bit part here, a walk on there. The big break came to me not because of how I looked, but how I laughed! My loud mid western guffaw caught their attention. A dirty laugh and a sinful body. I got my first major role.
Our sitcom was a slow burn. The lead actor had great comic timing. I was his perfect foil. Our chemistry fizzed and bubbled, and once it had captured the public imagination; there was no looking back.
Those were great days.Halcyon days. I was young, I was hot again, and famous to boot. A fuck was just a fuck now. I didn’t care for a “relationship” anymore.
Doug, my co star and I, became great buddies. So much so that the tabloids had us eloping,marrying,splitting up every second day. Course, the fact that he was as queer as a three dollar bill, seemed to have escaped everyone’s notice.
The film offers started pouring in. I was wary but Doug convinced me to give it a go.Sifting through them, I was left with two viable options – Action thriller with young, upcoming actor or a comedy with a has been trying to make a comeback. It was a no brainer.
Contrary to subsequently embellished stories, shooting the movie was no picnic. We never really hit it off. He was too full of his importance. As I was of mine. After all I was giving his career a fillip! Those months were fraught with all sorts of petty indignities he would try and heap on me. From speaking over my lines, to eating garlic just before he kissed me. From ignoring all my cues, to conveniently forgetting rehearsals, he was a fleabag to work with.
He had nothing on my Ma though. Rolled right off my back.
The film’s runaway success caught everyone by surprise. It made Mr Has Been the biggest name in town once more, and me his new best friend. We went on to do two more films together, but never managed to make celluloid magic again. Pity! Never received a Christmas card from him after that.
I was thirty. I was huge and happening. I was also battling the bulge secretly. But Ma and Pa and that wretched existence seemed so far removed from my glittering life. My sitcom was going great. Films were aplenty and I was ready to make the leap from Television star to full fledged Hollywood star.
When the headlines screamed, “K…. gets her nipples out”, I was genuinely confounded. All that had been so long ago, that I had obliterated it from my memory. But someone else hadn’t. Now they were doing a bloody good job of cashing in on it.
It took three months for the furore to die down. I had to stay holed up in my apartment while the “suits” did damage control.I turned to my old friend – the refrigerator.
When I finally emerged, the shocked script writers had to hastily incorporate a pregnancy story line into the sitcom. 20 pounds are difficult to disguise on camera. Add to it the 10 it puts on anyway, I looked like I was ready to deliver in the next episode.
Atkins was all the rage in Hollywood. I was banned from eating carbohydrates.(And a “minder” would come and clean out my refrigerator of any offending items on a daily basis). But I could stuff my face with steaks,eggs,cheese and butter. I smelled foul, and Doug refused to kiss me onscreen. Regardless, the fat melted away like butter sliding off a cob of corn.
Slim again, I took up exercise. An action movie was next, and I martial trained my way into serious abs and biceps. I was the tabloid’s darling again. My little blip was soon overtaken in public memory by the shenanigans of poor little heiresses and junkie rock stars.
It was at a film premiere that I met Rob.The attraction was instant. We didn’t leave the hotel room for five days. By the fifth, he’d convinced me to marry him.
I had the biggest,glitziest,craziest wedding in town.From ice sculptures in the garden to champagne fountains, from toddlers dressed as cherubs to near naked angels serving the drinks, it was as OTT as it could get. So fucking Hollywood.
It lasted 33 days.Then the bastard sued me for half of everything and won.So fucking Hollywood.
My career nosedived shortly after. Who wanted an ageing,overweight (did I mention my proclivity to doughnuts?) diva anymore? There were younger,prettier, more willing-to-spread-their-legs models around.
The weight gain was insidious. A pound here, a pound there, and one day you wake up 60 pounds heavier. How the hell did that happen?
Consuela, my housekeeper, made the most amazing tacos. I rediscovered Mexican food in all its greasy glory. Refried beans!! Mmmm….just the thought of them makes my mouth water….Nutty bunuelos, tres leches cake….naughty naughty desserts that settled comfortably around my already ample waist.
We were a good partnership – Consuela and I. Much like Doug had been till our chemistry fizzled out after that unfortunate episode in the public toilets.
Really, I thought Doug would’ve had classier stomping grounds. Never mind. Our sitcom stuttered to a premature halt, with Doug going into rehab to cure himself of his lamentable affliction.
But Consuela and I. Now that was a partnership built to last. She cooked and I ate. It was Fabulous! Till I discovered that while I lay corpulently supine by the pool, she also robbed.
Out went Consuela. In came Jorge, whose pool cleaning capability and six pack abs I much admired. Cooking ability? Not so much.
Funds were running low, and I was thrashing about looking for work. When the offer came to advertise a weight loss plan, I grabbed it with both hands.Lose weight and earn money doing it? Seemed too good to be true.
Well, guess what? It was.
Oh, how I suffered those eight months. The portions were tiny. I mean tiny! The food tasted like cardboard. And I had another bloody “minder” living with me. Watching me hawk eyed so I wouldn’t stray off the plan. Living torture.
Of course, all the while I had to appear on Television and in magazines,smiling broadly endorsing these awful awful meals. Ah! The things we do for money.
Have your cake and eat it too,
Have a slice or have two!
We deliver to your pad,
and it doesn’t cost a wad!
Slimmer and slimmer you will get
Weight loss woes you’ll forget)
Poetry it was not. But it brought in the bacon (or not as the case maybe). Sigh.
I was never going to regain my pre pubescent figure. I was facing forty and didn’t mind carrying an extra 10 pounds on my derriere, if it made the frontier look better. (Thanks Ms Deneuve!).
Around this time, I had an offer to guest star as mother to one of six very famous “friends”. I was mortified. I knew for a fact that one of them was just a few years younger than me. By the time, better sense kicked in, the part was L O N G gone.
Now that food could no longer be my “fix”, I found a replacement. It had a funny old name: Google.
Yeah! You bet. That’s what I would do. I’d google myself – over and over. At first, there was no dearth of information. There were photos of me at nineteen, grinning vacuously into the camera. My bare assed ones surfaced too. There were movie stills, catalogue shoots, tabloid snippets….it was all there…and it was all so fascinating to read.
Slowly,however, it dawned on me that there was nothing new. No one seemed interested in me anymore. It was like circa 2005, I had died. Most annoying.
I did the next best thing. I decided to adopt. It had created a lot of good press for some gals I knew. I looked through my options. The obvious countries had been done to death. Where could I go? As far flung a country as possible?? India!! That’s it. I could always say I was embarking on a spiritual journey – and come back with a baby. Why, they could probably film me doing it!! I could put on henna tattoos, bathe with elephants….do all that, y’know – stuff!!
My agent shot it down straight away. “Logistically not possible to adopt easily”,he told me grim faced. And the adoption fever was waning anyway. “Look for another angle”,he said dourly. “Look for another job”, I replied sullenly.
Ah, well! I was never the maternal sort anyway.
Retirement is a particularly difficult job in Hollywood. Fame is addictive. Once you’ve had it, you want more. And you’ll do anything to get more. I was nipped and tucked and Botoxed to within an inch of my life, but there was still no work coming my way.
So, I did what any self respecting starlet in Hollywood would do. I crashed my car while over the limit. My mug shot was the nicest photo I’d had taken in a while. My hair was nicely coiffed, my lipstick and mascara in place. It only got a photograph on page 39. To add insult to injury, I was given Community Service by the disapproving judge. No prison sentence? No ankle bracelet?? What was this world coming to?
I had almost given up on it all when the call came. Would I participate in the Reality Dance Show? Would I?? Would I Hell!!!
That was three months ago. I’m on the show now. Tauter, fitter and my two left feet have miraculously transformed me into some semblance of a dancer.
The rehearsals are a bitch, the judges are harsh, but the audiences love me. I play to the gallery and they love my bawdy routines. They love my booty jiggling, they love my raucous laugh….
< “Well really, don’t you think she deserved more than 21? Yes, technically she’s not perfect, but there is a je ne sais quoi about her. I predict she’s gonna stay on. This one’s gonna last the distance…..” >
Yep! The judges consistently score me lower than my competitors. My dancing partner tells me of conspiracies and back stage gossip. But I don’t care. I am in it to win it. If that means treading on a few toes, so be it!
Oh, and I’ve been soooo good! Given up all the naughties. No chocolates, no booze, no doughnuts, no tacos…. I’m looking and feeling fabulous. And it’s within my grasp….victory… I can smell success…I can almost taste it…..
Damn! That’s not success….that’s the bloody chocolate!! How did it find its way into my mouth?? I should spit it out. I could spit it out. But maybe I’ll just chew…..mmmm….and swallow….oh…and there’s more where this one came from. Another one can’t hurt, can it?