Liz By Jafa

It was a scene this morning at my favorite cafe. Everyone crowded in out of the rain, not for their morning jolt, but for an emotional jolt. We all crowded around the bar, close to the TV, to watch for reasons that I can’t figure out, a hazy picture of a battleship carrying the ashes of JFK Jr., his wife and her sister. I was already distracted by the woman coming up to the bar when I heard a sharp whisper behind me. “That cannot be Liz. Oh my God.” This was nearly hissed to her friend standing by.

The object of their dismay was the woman coming up fast and uncertain on our little crowd. She was wet with rain, disoriented, and fat. This is what had caught my eye; but what held my attention was the hint that this was very recent weight gain.

Evidently, this was Liz. And her friends had not seen Liz since the wedding. Liz’s wedding, which was - from what I could make out - last October.

I really didn’t need to eavesdrop to make all this out. It was being narrated for me in the friend’s loud conversation. Liz had been their friend from work, had been the first of the group to marry, had moved out of the City and to a suburb upstate along the Hudson River. She had also been thin, apparently. What tipped me off to the recentness of the weight gain - and it was considerable; I would put Liz at just under 200 #s - was Liz’s outfit. Everything pointed to denial. Her khakis where pulled tight across her tush; they were unbuttoned, and the zipper was only able to make it up half the trip. Her t-shirt came down to about her navel, leaving a lot of stomach out and unprotected. She wore a black cardigan that just about met her khakis, but not quite. It might have fit better at one time, and I got the feeling that Liz was hoping that it would again. Not a chance. As she leaned over to kiss her friends hello, she eyed the pecan pie that was on the counter. I was eyeing her love handles. They had forced her cardigan up and her slacks down as she bent forward to hug her friends. They were substantial, and I tried hard to calculate the circumference of her waist and tummy from this one very solid set of coordinates.

“Liz, honey,” her friend Debra (so I found out from Liz’s response) started with some caution. “What’s going on here?” Debra gently placed her hand on the side of Liz’s pot belly. Liz recoiled a little, bending forward again, showing even more of the small of her back. Perhaps a better writer can make something of that. Liz blushed. “I warned you Deb,” she said. “You get married; you hang at home; you gain a little weight.”

I felt bad for Liz. She was an exceptionally beautiful woman who carried her weight, not with grace and ease, but with an innocent vulnerability. It was recent weight gain. She had not yet learned how to manage it, how to move. This came home to me all too dramatically when Liz sat on the stool next to mine. She had difficulty measuring the distance between what might have been her old hip measurements and my leg. She kept pressing lightly against me. She glanced down to see what it was she kept hitting. Then she turned to me, smiled, and lurched a little in the other direction, loosing her balance and nearly falling off the stool. Debra, her other friend and I tried to steady her. My right hand caught a little too much flesh than I thought was appropriate. Liz was blushing hard now. She stood up from the stool, smiled shyly at me, turned to her friends and motioned to a couch that had just opened up in the corner. “Let’s move over there, ok?”

Liz led the group toward the couch. Debra and friend followed behind. Debra touched her friend’s arm, the gestured with her hands, indicated her dismay at Liz’s transformation. She was gesturing frantically, her features frozen for a second in an exaggerated stare. She held her hands apart as though she were boasting about the size of some fish she had caught while on a boat someplace out on the Long Island Sound. She was obviously making a point about Liz’s butt.

I felt bad for Liz. She was such a knockout, by any measure. I hoped her husband felt the same. I hated her friends. But Liz seemed ok with all this. She sat down hard, pulled her t-shirt down a bit. It crept back up. She adjusted the waistband of her slacks. Then she did it again. Then the waiter came by. Then she ordered the pecan pie.