What I really wish for, sometimes, is a hall monitor for my body. Someone who could look at me every day and explain to me exactly whatâ€™s different, and exactly what hasnâ€™t changed and tell me how things are looking and where things are going and pat me on the head and tell me that Iâ€™m not imagining things: when I think that my skin is tightening up, a bit; that my stomach isnâ€™t nearly as floppy and my arms are slightly slimmer; and my boobs are (Iâ€™m so sorry) really not looking so hot, but at least theyâ€™re not getting smaller and isnâ€™t that nice? Right now, it all feels like itâ€™s in my imagination, and my imagination has never been the most stable of places, or anything to rely on, even when Iâ€™m relatively stable. Now is not a relatively stable time in my life.
My hall monitor would also tell me if I were really hungry, or if that rumbling in my belly is imaginary hunger that will go away if I just wait it out, or will go away if I drink some water, or wonâ€™t go away until I eat some tuna fish on a single slice of Alvarado St. Bakery complete protein bread (5 grams per slice!). And my hall monitor will also slap things out of my hand, or hold me down and dig them out of my mouth, if necessary, and then thwap me upside the head for even thinking about eating a slice of cake, or a cookie or a second handful of grapes or an entire pie or a box of donuts or a bakery.
My hall monitor, if I should somehow sneakily and with great stealth
and cunning circumvent her (and itâ€™s a her, and she wears an
ankle-length khaki skirt and a maroon sweater and has a bosom like a
prow and glasses on a gold chain), will stand over me while I kneel
next to the toilet, crying, because I ate some macaroni and cheese when
I really shouldnâ€™t have eaten macaroni and cheese and now Iâ€™m heaving
up bits of noodle and I can feel the chunks in my nose and she will
make tsk tsk noises and say â€œNow, we wonâ€™t be doing that again, will
we?â€ and while I sob about how stupid I am and how it will never happen
again, she will stroke my hair and say â€œI know you wonâ€™t,â€ and weâ€™ll
both know that it is true.
At 6 a.m., my hall monitor will come clanging into my bedroom with a
pot and a wooden spoon, and she will say â€œUp now, right this second!â€
and yank the covers down and unplug my electric blanket and set me on
fire, if necessary, and she will yank my charred body up out of bed and
hand me a glass of water and my crazy pill and my glasses and then
shove me into the bathroom and supervise while I brush my teeth, and
then hold out my sweatpants, one leg at a time, and haul them up and
wrestle me into my sports bra and tank top and bundle me out the door,
going â€œhup hup hup!â€ all the way down the block and onto the train and
downtown to the gym, where she will stand next to me on the treadmill
and smack my ass every time I think about slowing down. She will pull
tissues from her sleeves and hand them over to me every time I start to
weep tiny golden tears of self-pity, and then punch the incline up
another couple notches.
She will follow me out the door and sit next to me at work, nudging my
water glass in front of me, filling it up when it is empty, and
punching me in the back of the head every time I start thinking about
the vending machine. She can always tell when I am thinking about the
vending machine. I will probably quickly stop thinking about the
She can also tell when Iâ€™m wondering if my pants have gotten loose
because Iâ€™ve lost some inches, or if they just need to be washed.
â€œInches,â€ sheâ€™ll say, and I will be sure Iâ€™m not crazy, because she is
my bodyâ€™s hall monitor and she knows these things. She knows I
shouldnâ€™t be wearing trapeze shirts or wide-legged trousers, no matter
how much weight Iâ€™ve lostâ€”and especially not togetherâ€”and she will not
let me buy them, no matter how on sale they are or how very au courant
â€œvolumeâ€ is, in fashion. â€œVolume!â€ Iâ€™ll protest, trying to pry her
fingers off the silk satin with the cunning bows. â€œYour hips,â€ she will
hiss, and bite me. â€œYouâ€™ll thank me for this,â€ she will say, as she
disappears from the dressing room and I know sheâ€™s right.
"Water weight," sheâ€™ll say. "You should have about 15 more grams of
protein today," sheâ€™ll say. "Your imagination," sheâ€™ll say. "Hereâ€™s how you
roast a chicken," sheâ€™ll say. "Hereâ€™s how you stop worrying about
everything," sheâ€™ll tell me, "because itâ€™s my job now." "Happy birthday,"
sheâ€™ll say. "Youâ€™re 34 years old, and finally youâ€™re doing okay. Donâ€™t
wake up, though, because this really is such a beautiful dream."