The Main Reason I Don’t Have a Gun

If I had a gun, when some drunk jackass stumbled up to my table and started talking shit about how dare I eat in public, I would shoot him.  And I’d feel no remorse and I’d be on death row, unless, on the off-chance I actually got twelve fat people on my jury.

They’d probably ask for clarification: “Did he really come up to your table and just start in ‘Dang, girl, look at you eating.’?”

And I would say, “Yes.”

And they would say, “Not guilty.”

Seriously, I have two comments about this.

One being how much it kills me whenever doctors and other folks go on about fat folks as if we don’t get that we’re fat.  Please, name me one other state of being where total strangers feel free to walk up to you in public and “correct” your behavior.  Sorry, world, apparently I am so hideously gross that my mere presense in a bar ruins the bar experience for others.

Two being how dude looked like a troll.  Seriously, “John,” you need to take a long hard look in the mirror before you criticize anyone else’s appearance.

That is all.

Edited to Add:  Brittney’s take.  Maybe it wasn’t about me being fat.  Maybe he was just a jackass.  Good thing I don’t have a gun.

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40 thoughts on “The Main Reason I Don’t Have a Gun

  1. Please, name me one other state of being where total strangers feel free to walk up to you in public and “correct” your behavior.

    Smoking
    Smacking Your Kid
    Holding hands/kissing a member of the same sex
    Being in public with a member of the opposite sex who is not the same skin colour as you

    But…being fat is the only one that’ll get perfect strangers rolling their eyes at your grocery cart, takeout order or amount of food in a restaurant.

  2. What an asshole (not you, Eli…the guy who did this to B). People have no class. I’m sure he thinks he deserves a Barbie doll. What has always killed me is the unspoken signals from people…the looks, the attitude of “well, you’re fat, and I feel sorry for you that you are so miserable in your fatness and won’t get any dates.” The looks and the attitude are sometimes more hurtful than if the person just had the nerve to come out and say what they’re thinking.

    Anyhoo…sorry you felt that vibe coming at you from that jerk. You have nothing to feel “inferior” about, and I hope you won’t let a dick like that break your spirit.

  3. I know too many people who equate “fat” with “pig” and “unhealthy” – most of the time neither of which are true. It makes me ill. Yes, that person you met may have been a jerk, but there’s still no excusing behavior like that. I’m self-conscious enough without assholes judging the food I eat when it’s no business of their own.

  4. Yeah, that’s what he said. And I’m like looking at the potato chip in my hand thinking, he’s really going to call me out for eating a potato chip in public. Jesus Christ.

    I mean, y’all, this shit happens all the time. I’m not going to run around in any bigger cloud of self-doubt than I already do. I can’t remember a time when people didn’t feel compelled to comment about my appearance, about how fat I am or how ugly I am. If I let it get to me too much, I wouldn’t even be able to leave my house.

    But, yeah, damn, sometimes I just want to be like, “I get it. Okay, yes, I am fat and ugly and no one will ever love me. I fucking get it.” Ha, in fact, I guess I do that here on the old blog sometimes.

    It’s weird, now that I think about it, the amount of folks, strangers, who feel free to come up to me and tell me how ugly I am, as if my forgetting it for five seconds and actually relaxing and having a good time is somehow an affront to them.

    In my whole life, I’ve only ever had one white guy unexpectedly come up to me and tell me how beautiful I looked, and that was my dad’s best friend. Black men? Hispanic men? No problem, once they work up the nerve to come over, telling me I look fine. It’s one of the reasons I love walking Mrs. Wigglebottom. It gives guys an excuse to come talk to me. Maybe it’s a culture thing. But I don’t give a shit. Compliment away. Whistle at me when I walk by construction sites. Tell your friend in Spanish how you’d like to get your hands on me but my friend is too scrawny and I’ll laugh when she tells you in Spanish that she speaks Spanish.

    Heap it on me, fellas.

    I won’t believe you, but I’ll love it.

  5. the really screwed up part? this never happens to guys unless someone whants to start something. seriously. everytime someone has called me a fat-ass or fatty or whatever, has been when they were lookin’ for a fight. luckily for me (and my non-existent criminal record), i’m secure in my big-ness and rarely feel the need to defend my own honor. but i think it’s fucked up that the only reason he felt that he could say that to you is because he felt resonably sure that you wouldn’t kick his ass then and there because you are a woman.

    damn, b… that’s really screwed up. i’m so sorry. i apologize on behalf of my gender. that was some seriously cowardly shit…

  6. Black men? Hispanic men? No problem, once they work up the nerve to come over, telling me I look fine.

    Same experience here. God bless them.

    I am going to do the faux pas of the internet now. Here it goes:

    AUNT B! YOU ARE *NOT* UGLY! OH MY GOSH! Seriously! Big does NOT equate ugly!!!!!

    I know you haven’t written this to solicit praise…that’s not your style. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this moment pass by without saying it!

    That guy was an ignorant asshole.

  7. Delicious irony: when you are sitting on death row for killing that asshole, your “last meal” should be the same as the one that you were eating when your ‘victim’ decided that sticking his nose where it didn’t belong was more important than living.

    BTW, you don’t need twelve fat people on the jury, just one. But every time the DA re-tries you (hung jury doesn’t invoke double jeopardy protection), you again need a sympathetic person on the jury.

  8. I better have a last meal more elaborate than a burger, Diet Coke, and potato chips! Good god. At least let me have some ice cream!

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  10. Somebody needs to be drug by his ear up the front steps of his momma’s house. That shit ain’t right, and I’m sorry it happened to you, Aunt B.

  11. That totally sucks. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. And you are so NOT ugly, B. You’re adorable and have a marvelous smile that lights up any room you’re in. That dipshit needs a good fat kick in the ass is what he needs.

  12. B, darling, are you me?

    And if not, shall we stand together, rise up from the table in all our glory, gently wiping our beautiful hands with our napkins and patting our beautiful mouths dry, and proceed to make these wastes of human skin wish their mommas and daddies have never met, much less created them? All without laying hands upon them?

    Because we can, you know. The only challenge is to use words they’ll understand, so we’re going to be limited to three syllables or less.

    My (extremely horrible) grandfather, who regularly did stuff like your unfortunate acquaintance John the Drunkeror, paid my aunt the finest, most succinct compliment ever after she let him have it one evening: “Baby, you could cut a great big man to ribbons and never handle a knife.”

    She once paid me the same compliment, after one of her horrid horrid sons, who took after our grandfather, tried to pull that “god you’re fat and ugly” crap on me at a family gathering. He still won’t come around me at family events. The only thing I didn’t blast off his sorry hide was his parentage.

    I’ve long been amazed, like you, by the number of people who seem to be offended by my presence, by the simple fact that I have the audacity to exist and breathe the air and walk on the street, when I clearly should be hiding in a basement somewhere. I guess that’s why they feel they should hang out car windows and shriek “DIE YOU FAT B*TCH, DIE!” as they pass me on the street.

    Go figure.

  13. I guess that’s why they feel they should hang out car windows and shriek “DIE YOU FAT B*TCH, DIE!” as they pass me on the street.

    See, this is why I favour legalising drugs. Then folks like this–who seem to be quite obviously bored with their overall options in life–can just float off in a quiet stupor for entertainment.

  14. See, this is why I favour legalising drugs.

    Snort.

    And BTW, you don’t necessarily need anyone fat on the jury. Anyone who has been pestered by a persistent drunk is gonna be on your side.

    But what I really wanted to talk about, at risk of derailing the thread completely, is this:

    my whole life, I’ve only ever had one white guy unexpectedly come up to me and tell me how beautiful I looked, and that was my dad’s best friend. Black men? Hispanic men? No problem, once they work up the nerve to come over, telling me I look fine.

    There’s something about the way white USian guys are socialized that makes them incapable of addressing an unknown white woman in public, as individuals, with any comfort. (Maybe this has changed since I became one of The Women Men Don’t See, but that’s not my impression.) I don’t know what it is, what got it started, how it’s transmitted. But it exists, and it’s weird.

    Now, guys in a group (e.g. construction workers, as B says), may do the wolf whistle thing. Color and ethnicity seem to make no difference there. But that’s a bunch of guys, focussing on one woman (at any given time), and it has always seemed to me that it’s about power: “we get to do this to you, at you, we are objectifying you so completely that if you actually responded we’d be totally freaked out.” Ugh. Everyone’s uncomfortable, you know?

    But individually, I’ve never had a white guy out on the street do anything but ogle me. Again, it’s impersonal, not intended to engage me, just to have me as an object. And if I catch them looking, they get mad. But black guys and hispanic guys will whistle or say “hey, baby” or “hey, mamcita” and look you right in the face, and they love it if you answer back.* Even when all I’ve done is laugh and say “sorry” I get a smile in return. A connection, however superficial and transient, has been created. Now, my life experience has led me to suspect that black and hispanic men aren’t actually any more confident than white men in this country, and certainly not about women. So what’s the story?

    *At least in NYC. This hasn’t happened to me since I moved to Nashville, but I’m not sure whether it’s the region or my age that’s the bigger factor. I’m guessing it’s the implication of that particularly gendered/raced whistle in this region, since black male clerks will still flirt with me in stores.

  15. Why, why, why isn’t there a preview in WordPress? Obviously, only the first paragraph of that blockquote ought to be blockquoted.

  16. I read this earlier and I couldn’t comment because I had a lot of emotion about it. I’m pretty okay with me and I’m by no means a skinny minnie. I’ve always been fat. Mom was the beauty queen, sis was thin, you know the routine.
    But with that said, I have had people be incredibly rude to me about my weight. And, like Grandfille, I usually can tear them to pieces.
    But I don’t usually unless they really piss me off because they are just not fucking worth it. And the thing is, I learned a long time ago to have a bit of swagger, not let assholes win free room and board in my head and to make sure that I let their view of me not wrap around my soul.
    B., having gotten to know you better this past year has been such a wonderful gift. But me saying that doesn’t take away the hurt of being verbally assaulted by a stranger, but I want you to know that asswipe doesn’t know the beautiful and exquisite woman that I know.
    He is unworthy and unnecessary and I see a lot of love and respect on this thread and its for you.
    Sending a huge hug and a sloppy kiss from the west and remember, you are beautiful.
    That asshole was just blind.

  17. Y’all it’s really okay. The dude also wiped his ass on a truck. I mean, he was DRUNK drunk. Now, I believe drunks say things when they’re drunk they’d like to when they’re sober. But, seriously, I’m not hurt so much as just amazingly annoyed.

    NM, yeah, I don’t know what’s with how white men are socialized (seem to be socialized/ many not all), but, yeah, the ability to appreciate an individual woman as an individual and a woman without making her feel objectified or in some kind of danger is definitely a skill they don’t have.

  18. Fat gives the able-bodied a small glimpse into the world of the visibly disabled. I do not know how many times my friend has been accosted by total strangers, asked such intimate questions as “can you have sex?” (to which her answer is usually a dry “”With You? I don’t think so.”), harassed on the street for walking on crutches, talked at very loudly and slowly, etc. She’s spoken to rudely on airplanes, talked about on elevators like she’s not there, seated by every kitchen door in restaurants (so her body doesn’t scare away the foot traffic)…you guys just have no idea the kind of daily bullshit the ambulatory disabled have to go through just to get around in the world, in spades if the body in question is a fat woman. Heaven help her if she’s walking with another fat woman (me) — we’re automatically perceived as a defective lesbian couple, both of us so damaged in our various beauty-impaired ways that of course we’d have to just take up together.

    Not that this makes it ok in the least that we all have had these kind of experiences…just saying that what a man will say to you drunk, he’ll say to the disabled stone cold sober. Yeah, the Farrelly Brothers. Fucking hilarious.

  19. One more instance in which perfect strangers feel perfectly free to interfere in your life: when you’re pregnant.

  20. Now, guys in a group (e.g. construction workers, as B says), may do the wolf whistle thing. Color and ethnicity seem to make no difference there. But that’s a bunch of guys, focussing on one woman (at any given time), and it has always seemed to me that it’s about power: “we get to do this to you, at you, we are objectifying you so completely that if you actually responded we’d be totally freaked out.” Ugh. Everyone’s uncomfortable, you know?

    But individually, I’ve never had a white guy out on the street do anything but ogle me. Again, it’s impersonal, not intended to engage me, just to have me as an object. And if I catch them looking, they get mad. But black guys and hispanic guys will whistle or say “hey, baby” or “hey, mamcita” and look you right in the face, and they love it if you answer back.* Even when all I’ve done is laugh and say “sorry” I get a smile in return. A connection, however superficial and transient, has been created. Now, my life experience has led me to suspect that black and hispanic men aren’t actually any more confident than white men in this country, and certainly not about women. So what’s the story?

    *At least in NYC. This hasn’t happened to me since I moved to Nashville, but I’m not sure whether it’s the region or my age that’s the bigger factor. I’m guessing it’s the implication of that particularly gendered/raced whistle in this region, since black male clerks will still flirt with me in stores.

    See, I hate all of that attention. All of it. I get absolutely freaked out when it happens to me, and I know that encourages it. I’ve had guys trail me for blocks, trying to get a reaction out of me… or people who start yelling things at me if my nod isn’t gracious enough, or if I don’t stop and say hi to them right that second. For me, all of that attention is bad.

    It’s true, though… I’ve never gotten it from white men. Not, I think, out of any sort of deference or lack of socialization, but rather because as I’ve been reminded all too frequently, I’m not the kind of girl most of them would look twice at. Which has nothing to do with my figure or my dress (okay, maybe my dress… I do tend to dress like a little old lady), and everything to do with the fact that I’m brown and don’t look like a model.

    When I was younger, I wasn’t sure whether it was better to be ignored or to be scared. I now come down firmly on the side of “ignored”… particularly because of where I work and how supremely sketchy most of the people around are.

    (Heh. About the only thing that turns me into one of the Mean Feminists faster is the “Smile” thing… which usually skips the feminist argument step entirely and winds up somewhere in the realm of seething homicidal rage.)

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  22. One more instance in which perfect strangers feel perfectly free to interfere in your life: when you’re pregnant.

    Ooh, I have one! *raises hand* People also feel amazingly entitled to give you unsolicited advice when you’re in a visibly cross-racial relationship.

    Seriously. When I was still with The Ex, we were stopped by an old white man in a Burger King, who proceeded to lecture us* about our relationship and how he should treat me. Granted, he didn’t say anything alarmingly bad … the usual ‘be nice and respectful’ crap … but still. Two young adults (19/22 at the time, I think) you don’t know from Adam minding their own business in a part of the store where you’re not sitting, who aren’t being aggressively kiss-kiss-y… what in that picture says “Hey, you, random guy! We need your opinion on our love lives, and we need it right now.” ? (excuse my punctuation … it just looks weird the other way.)

    With Breviloquence, we found ourselves treated to a lecture by the guy fitting him for his tux (for the cotillion). While the guy seemed like he’d probably give this advice to anyone, it was still a profoundly awkward experience to be told that we should be getting married in the near future.

    (Then again, people also keep asking us if we’re brother and sister, which neither of us can figure out as he’s an Irish/Italian Jew from New York with waist length curly white person hair, and I’m a carmel-hued Black/Japanese girl from California with an afro that barely hits my shoulders when straightened. Between that and the making out, it seems like people might abandon the sibling theory with ease.)

    Actually, now that I think about it, just being in a mixed group seems to do it. When I would go places with my (short, Japanese, older) high school counselor, people would ask if she was my mother; when I would go places with my Philipino or Chinese friends, they’d ask if we were siblings; when my (white) friend G stayed with my family, they asked if she was a sister or cousin. People don’t ask what your relationship is if you’re with people you look like… even if they do mistake the relationship. What makes people think it’s okay to just walk up to people they don’t know who are minding their own business and ask them what they’re doing together?

    * Okay, not “us” at all. He tapped The Ex on the shoulder, faced him, only spoke to him, and in no way acknowledged my presence during the entire thing. He never made eye contact or said anything to me, or even phrased his words so as to apply to me.

  23. (delurking)

    I have another one: when you’re a young woman in public and you’re not smiling. I don’t miss that a bit.

    Are these guys missing the part of the brain that prevents every stray thought that crosses their brains? Is there some kind of operation that can fix this problem? A superego transplant, maybe?

    Damn. I mean, I talk to strangers all the time, but only to say shit like, “cute dog” or “your flour bag has a rip in it.” What the hell?

  24. Ooh, a superego transplant. That’d be useful. I wonder if we could get the government to subsidize them?

    Heh. I just thought of another one: having visibly ethnic hair. I get lots of the “what do you call that?” now, or the running log of how my hair looks each day (BA complained about this one too); when I was a kid it was always the “did you stick your tongue in an electric socket?” (As a teen, of course, it was all about when I was having a bad hair day, which was a completely different kind of liberty.)

  25. But….why is the US the fattest nation on earth? Could it be that this many people have glandular problems? I’d say it’s epidemic then, and needs to be addressed by the health industries, besides failed diet programs.
    I’d like to know the percentage of people who are fat because:
    Glandular/ other health issues
    Born that way
    overeating
    I have nothing against fat people, but I am extremely curious about what causes so much obesity in this nation. My mother was fat because her gallbladder was removed.
    My dad was fat because he never took care of himself.
    I’ve seen fat infants, but this cannot be the case with the majority of the populace. Again, that would be a health epidemic.
    There was a time when a certain girth was considered attractive, and attempts were made to attain that girth. Now, I think it’s mostly bad diet choices.

  26. B, if only you’d had the pepper spray. Clearly, the guy was a jerk. He was severely drunk, and you have an eyewitness who spotted him performing a bizarre ritual on (or with) a Ford truck. Emptying a can of Mace on him (preferably one the size of a large fire extinguisher) and delivering a kick to his “gonadular region” would have been completely justifiable.

  27. Magni says: See, I hate all of that attention. All of it.

    My earliest experiences of it were of the group of guys whistling at me type, and I would have to be restrained from trying to punch them out. It felt like an attack, no question. So it kind of surprised me when I moved to NYC and started from time to time to get the more individual thing. And I realized that it felt more personal, and more genuinely inviting of some response. You can bet that I spent a long time examining whether I had a separate set of standards of behavior for white and non-white guys. But what I concluded was (and still is) that there really are two different kinds of approaches being made. If white guys could make eye contact, and smile, and not have to be part of a pack, I would have been reacting differently.

    Now, that inter-racial couple thing, the one time I actually dated a black guy we got that strangers breaking in on us thing all the time. Only when the white strangers came up to us they talked to me, as the one who looked like them. They were all so approving, too: “oh, you’re doing such a brave thing/such a cool thing/gee, do disapproving people ever bother you?” I always wanted to point out that they were bothering me themselves by interrupting my conversation or meal or whatever.

  28. f white guys could make eye contact, and smile, and not have to be part of a pack, I would have been reacting differently.

    Hunh, yeah. That’s definitely part of what makes it so threatening. The nonwhite guys, for me, are generally in a pack… but unless I have to walk by them or through them, that’s not so bad because I know they’re mostly posturing for each other.

    I’m actually more scared of individuals, because they always seem to be the ones who feel like it’s okay o come right up to me, and follow me or yell at me if I don’t give them attention. Groups generally stay wherever their group activity is located, and generally have at least one person that’ll roll their eyes or not say anything (and thus at least feels like they might calm them down if they decided to do something else).

    Though I’ll admit, I think the scaredest i’ve been has been with a pair of people, when they slowed down their car in front of where I wanted to go, and one got out to talk to me while the other idled the car and watched. Having people go out of their way to block your exits (I was wheeling something heavy and expensive and couldn’t really cut through the grass or turn around well) is disconcerting.

  29. Uh, yeah. That would be not just annoying but frightening, I would think. And is completely outside of the types of stuff I’m talking about.

  30. Oooh, I have one! I was getting that wolf-pack (rabbit pack?) nonsense from some construction workers (white/male), and I marched over and stood toe-to-toe with one of the loudest. I said icily, “You have my attention. Now impress me.” His friends had a lot of fun with that, but oddly, no one had anything to say to me.

    I don’t like the ones who follow. Or the ones who think that random comments somehow constitute an introduction, and that I should express my gratitude for their approval – if that’s what’s expressed. It’s not always. There are a lot of people who feel free to comment upon what they perceive as my unnatural pallor. I used to get outraged; now when they yell “Get a tan!” I just tell them to “Lighten up!” ;)

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