SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


When 'middle age' becomes a body part
Scripps Howard News Service


August 07, 2006

My mantra for middle age: Every day, in every way, I am getting fatter and fatter.

I diet (sort of). I exercise (a lot). Every day, I step onto the bathroom scales and groan.

I am not what doctors call "morbidly obese." More like pathetically obese. It's just sad the way fat accumulates on the body of a middle-aged man who gave up smoking a couple of years ago and took up Oreos instead.

One look in the mirror raises a number of questions: When did my hips become wider than my shoulders? When did my waist measurement leave my inseam in the dust? Where did my belt go? Oh, there it is, hiding under my paunch. Sneaky devil.

I know I'm not alone. News reports regularly scream that America's the fattest country on Earth, that we're killing ourselves with our own mouths. We're all so concerned about obesity and health we can find solace only in another snack.

"Middle age" apparently refers to body location rather than simple chronology. You pass 40, and your middle shows its age by ballooning up as it never has before. This "spread" is the curse of adulthood.

("Middle-Age Spread" sounds like a ranch, one that extends from Armpit Valley to Bad Knee Junction, passing the mustard-stained slopes of Mount Belly and Bigbutt Heights along the way. Yee-haw. Git along, lil hoagies!)

I already was a large man before I became a large, pear-shaped man. I'm 6-foot-5 and rarely a day goes by that I don't hit my head on something, which might explain my many mental "issues."

Because of my height, I've bought my clothes at big-and-tall shops for years. I used to shop in the tall section. Now, in middle age, I need the big part, too.

With this widening has come more frequent and painful encounters with the doorjambs and sharp edges of my everyday world. A few years ago I only worried about hitting my head. Now I worry about snagging a hip on a cabinet corner. I tuck my elbows against my sides when I go through doors. I'm usually sporting a bruise somewhere.

The world isn't designed for the big and tall. Countertops and light switches and sinks always are the wrong height. Beds are too short. Doorways are too narrow. Bucket seats? Don't make me laugh.

Worst, of course, are airplanes, which are designed by elfin workers at Boeing who get their revenge on the world by torturing us big guys. (You might not know this, but "economy" comes from the Latin words for "pinch my fat with your armrest.")

Recently, I rode in one of those small, turboprop planes known as puddle-jumpers and was forced by dire need to squeeze my very large self into its very small bathroom.

I got in there - facing the correct direction, etc. - but when it came time to emerge, I had a problem. I was wedged so tightly I couldn't turn around. Which meant I couldn't reach the door latch. Which raised the very real possibility that I would remain in that fiberglass coffin until someone got me out with a blowtorch.

By exhaling and pivoting just right, I managed to get free. But there were a few panicky seconds when a headline flashed before my eyes:

"Middle-aged fatty trapped in airplane loo."

God, the humiliation. Only one way to beat that rap - blame someone else. So I pictured this headline instead:

"Trapped fatty sues airline for millions; Nabisco named as co-defendant"

Ah, that's better.

Let's eat!


Redding, Calif., author Steve Brewer's latest book is called "Bank Job."
Contact him at ABQBrewer(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Scripps Howard News Service.

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions
Submit A Letter to the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska