By James D. Beers
(Word Count: 4,009 words)
Yesterday I realized that my belt was hidden under a roll of my own belly fat. I was
sitting in my home office desk chair fidgeting with tightness and discomfort around my pants
waist when I lost track of it for a few seconds. It was depressing and I thought to myself, How on
earth did I get all these extra layers? Where did all the blubber come from?
Getting fat is just one more thing to put on my list of stressors. It sits up there next to
self-employment, five kids, bills, low back pain, falling asleep on the job, and noise. Goll, I hate
noise. At least fat is silent. That’s probably why it snuck up on me all of a sudden. One minute it
wasn’t there and then the next minute it was, like a pudgy ninja attacking from the darkness.
Waaaah! Ninja chop!
And then I was fat.
It bothered me (that’s why it’s called a stressor) and I squirmed around in my chair
wondering just how fat I’d gotten. I pinched at my thighs and grabbed handfuls of my belly.
Then I prodded at my chest hoping that the fat hadn’t grown into any less-than-male parts.
I bumped the desk as I swiveled in my chair evaluating my fat stores, and some M&M
peanuts fell out of the half-empty bag near the right computer monitor and rolled into the puddle
of Klondike Bar goo I spilled earlier. I picked up the M&Ms and threw them into my mouth.
While I crunched on the candies, I paused to consider my situation. My eyes roamed over my
desk observing Tootsie Roll wrappers, an empty root beer can, the M&Ms, a Twinkie I was
saving for later, the Klondike Bar goo, a neatly flattened Klondike Bar wrapper, and a chewed
pencil, all surrounding my mouse and keyboard. Lastly my eyes lit on my main monitor. A
partially finished report glared at me from the screen, its tractor beam pulling my hands up to the
ASDF and JKL: key positions. And then all of a sudden there it was, the truth about my weight
gain, staring me in the face.
Work was making me fat.
It had me chained to a desk all day, flogging me with deadlines, forcing me to eat foods
high in carbohydrates, and numbing my fat self so I couldn’t feel what was happening to me. It’s
like work was anti-exercise, a tool of the devil to fatten us all up before the slaughter. Yeah, I
might get in twenty to thirty steps to go to the bathroom a couple times per workday, but the only
part of me that really burns any calories are my mouse-clicking and keyboard-tapping fingers. It
looks kind of weird having a fat body and skinny hands; like my hands got stuck in a sauna for a
few days while the rest of me was left outside. Even then I’m a little suspicious of my ring
finger. Either he’s bulking up with extra muscle or he’s getting lazy, because my wedding ring is
feeling a bit tight.
Finally, I pulled away from my work computer and got up from my desk chair to go
examine my enlarged self in the bathroom mirror. I stole into the bathroom, locked the door,
pulled off my shirt, and almost didn’t recognize the guy looking back at me. I could’ve been
several months pregnant given the girth of my midsection. And tiny pink stretch marks were
starting to form around my belly button.
“Holy crap!” I yelled at my reflection. “What happened to you?” I poked around at my
stomach and twisted and turned in the mirror to see if I could find a skinnier perspective. It was
to no avail. Then I put my shirt back on and answered my own question with a muttered thought,
“Freakin’ work’s what happened, that’s what.”
I knew it wasn’t entirely true. Work couldn’t take all the blame. After all, I am getting
older, and at the end of the day, my body’s just tired of trying to burn fuel so it stores it away,
like stacking an enormous pile of firewood for winter. Unfortunately my metabolism has been
snow birding in the tropics and there doesn’t appear to be a need to start up any fires any time
Reluctantly I went back to work…so I could get fatter. But I couldn’t keep my mind on
the job at hand. Summer was staring at me through my office window, beckoning me to run into
her work-less, fat-free arms. My flat-tired bike, chained up to the patio post, whimpered at me to
come out and play. The moveable basketball hoop lay on its side in the driveway, the net
drooping and forming sad puppy dog eyes between its strings.
You know, I thought, I’ve had enough of this work fat! I’m going to do something about
it. Maybe ride my bike and play some basketball with the kids. Yeah, yeah, reboot myself to less
work and less fat. My love handles quivered at my declaration, fearing their imminent execution.
I turned back to my desk and, on the Klondike Bar wrapper, wrote down “ride your bike”
and “play basketball with kids.” Then I remembered that my wife ran over the basketball last
summer, that my bike chain was broken, and that the basketball hoop base had a leak in it on
account of the kids shooting it full of BB holes. Sounded like fixes would require work and
buying new would require money which in turn required work. So I nixed those ideas, turned to
my computer, and started Googling diets and weight loss. There’s like billions of fat loss ideas
out there, ranging from the extreme, like giving up ice cream (over my dead body!), to the
convenient, like stapling one’s stomach down a few sizes. None of them, however, sounded fun
nor did any of them attack the real problem—work.
As I kept looking through the internet search results I started to brainstorm some ideas on
how I could lose weight. But they all sounded like work, really hard work. Then it hit me: if
work was making me fat, then why not quit working? It was a tempting prospect and I started to
daydream about lying on a beach in a skinny man bathing suit, sipping Slurpees, and getting
thinner by the minute. The dream was short-lived though. It quickly came to my attention that no
work equaled no money and no money equaled no ice cream, not to mention no money for the
mortgage and probably lots of snide remarks from the wife about perceived laziness.
Maybe I could take some time off of work, like a vacation. It would be like quitting but
on a short-term or trial basis. You know, see how long I can go without it before I get bored or
the repo guy starts paying regular visits or I starve to death.
Mouse clicking mindlessly I thought back on some past vacations, exploring the
possibility that perhaps some time away from work might be the answer to cutting down on some
fat. From the dark recesses of my memory, where I try to keep things locked away, a movie
trailer for one of my more recent vacation attempts began playing on the back of my reminiscing
retinas. A shiver ran through my bones as the trailer’s beginning scene opened.
Everything is in black and white and eerie organ music sounds in the background. Just off
the curb in front of a red brick-façade house, a pale and quivering minivan pulling a small trailer
embarks, rolling into the street. Simultaneously, a bolt of lightning flashes from the rainy and
windy sky. The minivan’s windshield wipers strain under the downpour and the poor car,
buffeted by the wind, teeters down the block to the main road. Five hungry werewolves…I mean
children…begin their howling from the minivan’s back seats.
“Ow, ow, oooow! We need snacks! Snarl! Snarl!”
A twitchy, wide-eyed man (whose appearance is remarkably similar to my own) white-
knuckles the minivan’s steering wheel; what looks like an expression of too many years in an
insane asylum lines his face. To his right, cackling erupts from his frazzle-haired wife wearing a
wired face mask. She starts tossing sandwiches and cheese puffs back to the pack of children.
Fights break out about whose snack is whose and then the children rip into the food with
carnivore ferocity. Rabies drool, cheese powder, and sandwich shrapnel are instantly strewn
across the back two-thirds of the minivan’s interior. The noise is hideous and incessant.
The scene flashes to the now-groggy twitchy man trying to pull off a freeway to buy a
caffeinated soda. All five werewolf children are sleeping, probably drugged by the frazzle-haired
wife, who is also asleep, probably drugged by her frazzle-haired self. Cellphone-watching
zombies driving like maniacs surround the minivan. The twitchy man signals but this confuses
the zombies. He has to force his way across traffic lanes to stop at the last gas station soda
fountain for the next 200 miles. Inside the gas station all but the sugar-free lemonade is out of
order and only bottled water and beer stare out at the twitchy man from glass-paned coolers.
Water he doesn’t need and he’s not a drinking man, but this trip might change that. He breaks
down in tears as he stumbles out the gas station door, whimpering something about sleep
deprivation and a minivan exploding in a fiery ball.
The scene changes again. Twitchy man has fallen deep into the clutches of vacation stress
and has eaten all of the snacks for the entire trip. He is now humming Welcome to the Jungle by
Guns n’ Roses while blankly staring out the windshield. The werewolf children and frazzle-
haired wife are stirring. Then the pooping starts. Smells reminiscent of hell’s brimstone curl
through the air. The snaggle-toothed three-year-old growls, “I poopy! Snarl! Snarl!” The twitchy
man pulls the minivan into a dark, mist-shrouded cemetery full of vacation victims. The door to
the minivan creaks open as the frazzle-haired wife gets out to change snaggle tooth’s diaper
before the fetid feces oozes out and mutates everyone. Ghosts from the cemetery moan warnings.
“Oooooh! Turn back!”
“Don’t go any further!”
“This vacation will be your doom! Oooooh!”
The twitchy man breaks into a conniption and begins pulling out what hair he has left.
They depart from the cemetery leaving the diaper, now glowing radioactive green.
The trailer’s final scene opens with the minivan making its way through a black forest.
Inside the vehicle, the baby in the car seat goes berserk and starts gnawing on the restraint straps.
The five-year-old boy with stitches across his head projectile vomits up to the center console.
The two other boys—a seven-year-old and a six-year-old—have escaped their seatbelts and are
wailing like banshees. Snaggle tooth poops again, a mysterious curse churning it out of her colon
in a near constant stream.
Twitchy man screams and then the action dissolves into a black background while six
words in white fade onto the screen: And their journey’s only just begun…
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