This selection originally appeared in PANK as part of their This Modern Writer series. It is also the original version of the piece I performed for Scranton Storyslam, which you can see here. It is also the opening chapter in my book, which is represented by Meg Thompson.
The women at Weight Watchers are tough. We are a gang. We are the Bloods, the Crips, and the Latin Kings all rolled into one. Sure, we look harmless enough. Ten or fifteen portly women standing like preschoolers in a straight line outside the door, waiting for the loud mouthed receptionist to swing it open and begin to weigh us. But make no mistake about it, if you cross us, if you come to a meeting already thin and complaining about five extra pounds that you have gained over the winter and need to lose before bikini season, we will cut you. We will grab you with our fat little paws, roll you up into a tiny little ball, and kick your skinny ass out of here. Because this is our turf. This basement of the Electrical Workers Union, with its mundane pine paneling and shiny medicinal floors, belongs to us every Thursday night from seven until eight fifteen. So, if you have less than ten pounds to lose, stay the fuck home. Get a stomach flu, stick your finger down your throat, or swallow a laxative, we don’t care. Just don’t come here.
“Ugh, I feel gross,” says Sherri (with an i).
“You’ll be fine,” says a voice from somewhere in the front of the line.
“No, I had a brownie last night and I swear to God it went right to my ass.”
“No, it takes a while to catch up with you. You’ll probably see it next week,” says a different voice.
“I hate this,” sighs Sherri.
I am late, as always, so I am in the back and can barely hear the riveting comparisons of this week’s sins. The line snakes around the long thin corridor and is full of women sizing one another up. We smile and greet one another like we are soldiers on the same side, but internally we are praying for one another’s demise. I am nowhere near as big as she is. Wow, I hope I don’t look like that. We stand staring at one another, bound together reluctantly by overindulgence.
It is warm out and all of us have come dressed as close to naked as we can get without being arrested for indecent exposure. I’m wearing tiny little knit shorts, a tank top, and socks with sandals. You cannot stand barefoot on the scale, that is a rule. You cannot hear your weight, the specific number, out loud. That is the other rule. In my hands I hold my bible. The list of everything that went into my body this week, with the exception of the Snickers Bar and three Tootsie Rolls I jammed in my mouth only moments earlier in the car.