No French Fries Here

Jan. 15

Dear Dairy,

The new me! guide suggested another goal for the new year should be to keep it positive, a phrase I get but keep tripping over. It just sounds so new. Do you think the cavemen worried about keeping it positive? I think their biggest concern was finding meat and not having to eat grass for the rest of their lives.

Did Ma and Pa Ingalls go through their day telling themselves to be positive? And I’m referring to the real Ma and Pa Ingalls, not Michael Landon, with the feathered hairstyle of the ‘70s, shirtless as he chopped wood for the freezing winters. No doubt Mr. Landon kept it positive with the bourbon he drank on set, but the nineteenth-century Ma and Pa Ingalls? No, survival was first and foremost. Maybe they had time to worry about Nellie and Mrs. Oleson up the way in Walnut Grove, but only between working at the mill and on the farm, making bread, washing clothes, feeding the animals, sewing clothes and cooking meals, at least before the restaurant opened later in the series. And tending to the family. And they had a blind daughter. That to-do list makes me want to take a nap. Then again, anything makes me want to take a nap.

In other news, I have to say I’m proud of myself. I did not go through the McDonald’s drive-thru yesterday to get large fries, preferably right out of the fryer. That’s the best way to have them. They get soggy if they’ve been sitting under the heating lamp for too long. I’ve been known to wait until a new batch was cooked to order. Obviously it’s still a vision in my head, but I didn’t go then and I’m not going to go now.

I had reason to, though. I had just been to the plus-size section at Target and spoke to someone I’m not fond of. Two doozies. I went to Target to get a few things and decided, against all reason and sanity, to go look for clothes. First, there is nothing worse than the plus-size section at Target. It’s not like Lane Bryant, where everyone is there for the same reason. At Target, anyone you know can be wandering through the decorating section, happen to look up and there I am standing with plus-size pants. Sheer horror. And I don’t try anything on, at Target or anywhere else for that matter. That’s a deeper section of hell. Two reasons: mirrors and fit. The first one is obvious. Who besides toddlers likes mirrors?

And here’s the deal on the whole fit thing. Gather round and listen closely, dear fashion designers of plus-size clothing, let me let you in on something we chunky women have known for years. WE ARE NOT PROPORTIONAL. Let me repeat for all those kind, regular-size people sitting in swanky NYC offices designing clothes for us – a big waist does not equal long legs, long arms or even big shoulders. Again, we are not proportional. It is aggravating trying on a shirt that looks good, until you get to the shoulders that are at my elbows, making the sleeves down to my knees. That designer was hopeful – I get it – that maybe, just maybe the woman who fit that in the bust will also have long arms. But we heavy women know the truth, don’t we? It’s not going to work. We know that whatever we buy, we have to get altered. So Dear Diary, a pair of pants from Target is now costing me a lot of money.

Did you catch that? From Target. More money. The whole thing is shameful and horrible.

Through all of this, however, I tried so hard and was succeeding at keeping it positive. I’m thankful I know all of this at my wise age of forty-five. I can throw clothes in my cart, hoping they will fit but knowing they probably won’t. It’s okay. Knowledge goes a long way for us older, chunky women. Now I know not to overthink it. Confidently I headed out of the plus-size section and almost made it to the shiny white tile of the aisle, and who do I see? The queen of the smother mothers herself, Claudia Trainer, in all her glory. I had managed to avoid her for so long, but here she was, with her perfectly dyed blonde hair and expertly applied make-up. We are in Target. In the middle of the day. Not Nordstrom. Not going to the school gala. Yet here she was looking gorgeous. You should see her social media posts. She has around 2,000 Instagram followers. Not that I would know.

“Hi, Gail,” she said, looking up at the plus-size sign. “How are you? I’ve been thinking about you and your divorce. So sad.”

“I’m fine,” I replied, all of the sudden not feeling fine at all. “I’m out getting some things done today.”

“Buying new clothes?” Claudia asked, as if I wasn’t standing with a cart full of clothes.

“Yep, getting things done,” I repeat, my confidence slipping.

“Good for you, Gail. I don’t know how you’re doing it, after walking in on Jack with that woman.”

I cut her off. “Actually it was Jack Jr.”

She shook her head head quickly, as if she had a tick. I knew it was shock. “Jack Jr. with that woman? I heard it was Jack.

I explained. “Oh no, it was Jack with the woman, but it was Jack Jr. who walked in on them.”

“Oh, okay. That’s good. I mean, n…no.” She stammered as it became clear to her that my son walked in on my husband having sex with another woman. I wondered how she had missed that juicy piece of gossip.

“That’s not good,” she said. “How horrid. I’m so sorry, Gail. And, don’t take this the wrong way, but she’s so attractive. I mean, she’s still a whore,” She said as she put her hand on my arm. “But what that must have done to your self-” Her phone blessedly dinged, and she read what was coming in. “Must scurry, but my offer for setting up the mail train still stands. I’d love to help if I can. Everyone wants to help. Food is so easy to do and really the last thing you should be thinking about.” She raced off before I could decline.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about food – until Claudia reminded me of my dangerously low self-esteem. Until that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how good McDonald’s newly-fried French fries would be. Once the fries popped into my head, however, there was no turning back. No one would know except me and the McDonalds worker who handed over that pot of gold, and it would make me feel so much better. I left the cart in the plus-size section and hot-footed it to my car. Then in the parking lot I found myself hesitating, wondering what would happen if I went home instead and hopped in bed? What would happen then? I wasn’t sure but I knew I wouldn’t spontaneously combust. I knew I had to go home. I’m still not sure how I changed course, but I can be sure of this – I went home, hopped in bed and remained fry-less, and that may seem like small potatoes (ha!) to you, Dear Diary, but to me, that is hands-down, without a doubt, the most positive thing that has happened to me in a while.




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