BELONGS TO LONG AND POINTY PEOPLE
This, my little round one,
is the truth.
There is one brief shiny moment,
when one is an infant, when roundness is adored. But the adorable,
roly-poly baby overflowing with cheeks must soon acquire lines and
angles or forever forsake adoration and admiration. Now, I was luckier.
In my time, people got to keep their cheeks for another year or so.
You, my dear, are too old at 9 months for such sinfully sagging cheeks.
The world belongs to long and pointy people.
I look now at photographs
of myself as a toddler, even a four, five, six year old. I was never
long and pointy-well, somewhat long, but you would never have pointed
me out as pointy! (Sorry, couldn't resist that!) But I was not flabby
and fat. My schoolmates however were already getting a march on their
lean, mean looks and encouraged by the taunting of our not-so-lean
sports instructor, convinced me that movement-supple or swift or both-was
beyond my capabilities. Add to the mix, my own distaste for getting
dirty and my love of books, ideas and stories, and it is no wonder
that I always used my quick wit and eloquence to dodge outdoor activities
that I might have enjoyed.
Sweetheart, I want you to
play in the dirt. I want you to enjoy the exhileration of a long run.
I want you to hear music that lifts your heart and allow it to lift
you off your feet. I want you to sweat away anger and resentment.
I want you to feel the cool breeze on your hot skin. Listen to what
I am saying. Do not pay the price I didbe long and pointy.
Okay, so maybe the dirt thing
never was a priority. But I look at those photographs of me at three
and four, twisting if not shouting, and I think of all the years I
could have been dancing. I want you to dance. So don't fail to be
long and pointy or your peers will snigger at your jiggling tyres.
Long and pointy people never
have to go to clothes stores and be shamed because nothing fits them.
Adolescence must be easy for those who know they will emerge like
swans from those years of being all legs and neck and limbs that don't
quite move in unison. No trial room sermons followed by embarrassed
re-emergence into the store: "No, nothing fit." What a problem!
Even when long and pointy people don't fit into things, there is virtue
and envy in their state. Non-long and non-pointy people simply eat
And the greater their scorn,
the larger I seemed to grow, wearing the hurt I could not speak as
layers of flesh that would steel my breaking heart. When you are not
long and pointy, everyone has a recommendation for you. Since you
are not the right size, you must be both intellectually impaired and
impervious to insult or injury. Those who are smart and sensitive
enough to be long and pointy will always tell you how to be like them.
For every 'try eating boiled eggs, they have negative calories,' or
'eat more spices, they will counteract the curds you love and eat
so much of,' or 'I am worried about her, she eats so much,' the sensual,
sentient being that is you retreats a little. One insult, one pound
of fleshy armour.
kind soulonce told me that fat people were jolly and musically
gifted. To that I clung with hope. I think fat people are kind. We
don't tell the long and pointy people that we can see their ribs and
if they are not actually living in a famine-stricken society, that
is not pretty. We don't tell them that being able to see the skeletal
structure of their hands is not very attractive no matter how many
gem-stones stud the hands. We wear their hurtful words on our bodies,
and we let them get away, still long, still pointy.
What actually saved me were
wordsI read them faster than most, I used them better than most
and they gave me universes where people did not need to be long and
pointy to fit in. And I could singfrom the recesses of my roly-poly
abdomen emerged a voice that could carry a tune and carry it to the
ends of a large room. But I could not dance. I want you to dance.
Please quickly become long and pointy.
My mother would tell me that
long after my long and pointy peers aged, my round cheeks would still
look young. I am reaching that point. I still have a dimple where
the long and pointy have hollow cheeks. I have breasts when the long
and pointy don't. But it feels too late. My hair is grey, my eyes
dimmer, my spirit is sagging and my heart is heavy. Being long and
pointy would have been better.
But as I hold you, and I see
my round cheeks in yours, I know this too: you have no long and pointy
genes from me. From your luckier aunts, from your grandmother, perhaps
you do, but there are no guarantees.
What you have is the inner
resilience of my sagging spirit. I have never lost the desire to dance.
I cannot re-create you as a long and pointy creature although I recognize
that would have been a far superior way to create you. I can give
you the power I have to resist the hegemony of the long and pointy,
to keep within you the desires that the world will tell you are inappropriate
to roly-poly people. I can give you the gift of walking past those
who snigger and hearing nothing. I can give you the ability to freeze
the preening long and pointy twits with the superiority of your intellect.
I can give you the confidence-albeit the lonely confidence-of those
who become disembodied persons, persons who not having perfect long
and pointy bodies decide to have no bodies at allunconstrained
by body image issues, unfettered by the lusts and desires that come
with bodies and unconcerned about the appearance of one's appearance.
You can re-claim your body
when you are ready. Perhaps there will be some things you cannot do,
but bubble baths will still soothe your senses. Lavender lotion will
still feel good. Silk will still slide off your curves. And you can
still dance. And you will indulge yourself and exult in the movement-all
for yourself and no one else. It is not as lonely as it sounds.
Would that you could be long
and pointy, my baby, but if I cannot give you that, I will give you
courage and resilience. I will give you a singing voice that will
remind your body of its desire to dance. I will give you the gift
of words that will remind your heart of passion. I will give you a
universe of dreams that will stand guard against those who would limit
your possibilities. But that is a very difficult road, my little roly-poly
Just quickly become long and
pointy. The world belongs to long and pointy people.
December 16, 2002
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