Tuesday, June 22, 2004


I'm shrinking. My elbows stick out in bony lumps. My face emerges with a new fine net of wrinkles around the eyes. If I lean forward, my shirt hangs free from my ribcage. I can easily slide my balled fist inside my waistband. My suspenders, always useful, have become indispensable.

It occurs to me -- this is an ordinary thought for most people losing weight, I think, but it's a brand-new thought for me -- that I'll be needing new clothes if this keeps up. That I can probably wear old clothes that have been the closet for years, if the moths haven't gotten to them.

Very odd, becoming smaller. There's been an unconscious comfort in being a large person, in knowing that I could put more weight behind a punch, if I had to, than a lot of people have in their whole bodies. I've never been inactive. I have a fair amount of muscle stowed away here and there amid the fat, and I have felt -- though I didn't know it -- physically powerful. I knew that a mugger would think twice about me. The prospect of being little is disturbing. I remember helping my Dad out of his hospital bed, and being momentarily overwhelmed by the smallness of his body under the hospital gown. He's not frail, by any means -- fit and in terrific health for a man in his seventies -- but he was just so small, compared to me.

For a long time, now, I have thought of myself as an orangatan. Slow, powerful, dignified, and deliberate. Not someone anyone would mess with. Not someone anyone would brush aside. Slowly transforming into a plain little monkey is rather frightening. I'm losing my gravitas. Dwindling. I almost expect the pitch of my voice to be rising. I might at any minute start chattering shrilly and hopping about, developing nervous tics and a flighty attitude. Soon I'll be shrieking and brandishing my fist from the treetops; as unnoticed, as inconsequential, as a scolding squirrel.

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