Has Anyone Ever Called You A Fat F*ck?

Covid Diaries Part 3 — March 21st

Has anyone ever called you a fat fuck? I’ve been called that. But it’s been a while. At least a few hours.

So anyway, yesterday I was out walking. My back hurt, my legs hurt; shit, it was torture. This is what happens when you’re overweight, and this is what happens after you get hernia surgery. It’s tough to walk.

Yet when I returned home, my back was no longer hurting. Maybe it’s I actually moved. And because I drank a lot of water. Who knew switching from whiskey to water could have such pronounced effects.

But where I was — oh yeah so, later in the evening, because I live in the suburbs now, like a loser, I thought it might be nice to make a barbecue. Winter in the New Jersey suburbs is like committing suicide, over and over, every single day, so the first sign of sunlight is cause for celebration.

I must have lucked the fuck out, because before I looked up it was 70 damn degrees. Then my bad luck came right back, because there was no charcoal.

So I suggest we go to the store. I’ll sit in the back seat with my daughter, and my wife could go in. Remember — doc said I shouldn’t be lifting things, and charcoal is heavy as fuck.

Probably to appease me, my wife says that’s a great idea, an event that happens maybe once every three years. And we drive to the store. But every asshole in this rinky-dink town must have the same idea. Because the store is sold out.

So then I’m like, drive to another store, the one down the block. Those assholes probably have it. Sadly, those assholes don’t have it.

And the quest for charcoal continues. My wife is getting annoyed. I know this because she says — “I’m getting annoyed.”

Deciding whether to take the bait and risk an argument, I think — fuck it, and say:

“Hey, can I at least end this shitty week with a barbecue so I can give my meaningless life, in which I have nothing to look forward to, a brief glimpse of happiness?”

She goes UGHHH or something like that, and says— “Great, now you’re going to make me feel guilty.”

And I say: “Yes. Play the guilt card. That always works.”

The car is silent.

Then I get serious.

“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” I say. “It’s alright, we’ll just go home and sit in the dark. Like we’ve been doing for a week already.”

Other than my trip the doctor’s office, where it turned out I had not reinjured myself, and that I was totally fine, and that the surgery was healing as normal, and that the only thing I could do to alleviate the pain was to down more opioids, I had not been out of the house much. Just the walk, really.

But the truth was that quarantine — the whole stay at home order — was not that challenging. I’d been more or less working for myself for years, and when I was single, I went through periods, particularly in the winters, when I rarely went outside for much of anything.

Oh, I’d go to the gym and the supermarket, run errands, but I’d hit certain lulls in my social life. Maybe I’d go out a lot for a few weeks at a time, then things would quiet down and I’d be inside a lot. There was no rhyme or reason to it. I just worked a lot and mostly focused on that.

But even in the moments when I was social, there was something to it that, if I’m just being honest, always struck me as a tad strange. I would be around other people but at the same time feel very alone.

Then there is adulthood itself, which is incredibly lonely. You ask me, if a man can make close friends after thirty, shit, that guy is a hero. Making friends at that age is challenging because you are likely no longer in school, and the people you do socialize with — probably at work — are settling into their adult lives. They’re getting married, having children, that sort of stuff.

This leaves little time to be social, least of all with someone you just met. And there is a renewed focus, at that age, to be productive. You’re not exactly just sitting around on a couch, becoming close friends with whoever sits down next to you (or maybe you are, and I have no idea what the fuck I am talking about).

Now, if you have shared interests with someone, it is a little easier. Two mates sailing on a ship headed for the same shore, that’s a surefire way to become close, at least temporarily. And that’s a good kind of friendship, even if it doesn’t always last.

Maybe this was different in the old days. When we all gathered in villages, towns, small environments in which everyone knew each other, and there was nowhere to really go, nothing to do, you made friends easily, and stayed friends, because there was nothing to aim at; there was no mission, really, and so what united you was not your direction, but rather your lack of one. Into the nothingness you and your friends went, and you bonded over that. It’s what brought you together. And in some corners of the world, it still does.

But the quarantine has made people do the friend check. Everyone’s calling each other, checking up on people they haven’t talked to in years.

I’d be lying if I said my phone was ringing off the hook. It hasn’t. Honestly, maybe one person has called me. Maybe nobody at all. Does that mean I have no friends? I wouldn’t say that at all. But, maybe those people just don’t worry about me that much. Maybe they think I’m fine. Or maybe, as I settle into my late thirties, and most of my friends settle into their forties, there are more important people to be worrying about.

In the end, I got the charcoal, made a barbecue and got drunk again.

Because the coronavirus is now a full-blown pandemic, complete with economic devastation, near societal-collapse and absolute extreme government dysfunction.

Eat, drink and be thankful for each breath. That’s all you can really do. Even if you’re a fat fuck.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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