As part of their new year’s resolutions, my flatmates Saffy and Amanda have embarked on a diet. I’m not exactly sure what this diet is called, but it involves a lot of carrots and celeries.
“Apparently, a celery stick has no calories at all!” Saffy said the other day as she crunched with great energy. “In fact, you burn up more calories just by chewing the stuff! It’s wonderful. All the top models do it!”
“But why are you trying to lose weight? You’re not fat!” I said.
As Saffy later posted on Facebook, it’s comments like this that illustrate the vast gulf between men and women: “When it comes to weight, you can never trust the opinion of a guy!”The post excited a lot of comments, the quality of which ranged from probing (“Yar, lor!” from Sharyn) to sublimely sexist (“Can u post before and after pix?” from Karl).
For women, the act of losing weight is a sacred event. They approach it with the kind of dedication and focused single-mindedness you rarely see outside of an episode of “America’s Next Top Model”. The actual loss of weight is an event that ranks way up there with a High Holy Holiday.
Amanda says the whole weight loss drama is all the fault of men.
“Do you think I’m starving myself just so that I can fit into a size one dress?” she asked rhetorically recently, while chewing slowly on a crusty, day old slice of bread with nothing on it. She’d read somewhere that chewing slowly helps trick the mind into thinking that it’s eating a lot, so you get full quickly on very little.
“No, I don’t,” she went on. “I starve myself so I can fit into a size one dress in the hope that some worthless guy will find me attractive enough to ask me out on a date. If my whole life wasn’t genetically coded to finding a man, marrying him and having children just so I can stop listening to my parents bitch and moan about how all their friends’ children are married with children, I would be eating corn chips for breakfast, I’d be the size of a tip truck and I’d be wearing sweat pants all day!”
The idea of Amanda in sweat pants occupied us for days. Saffy said that she didn’t even think Amanda had anything in her wardrobe that remotely resembled sweat pants. “It continually astonishes me that she has such a tough time landing a guy. I mean look at her!” she exclaimed, her magnificent bosom swelling with incredulity and added, staring at me accusingly, “You could lose a few kilos yourself, you know!”
Meanwhile, the dieting continues. Six times a day, before and after each meal, the girls weigh themselves and laboriously record the results on a clipboard.
“I’ve lost 20 grams!” Amanda said with great triumph the other day. “Another fifty grams, and I’ll officially be a size two!”
“It’s so unfair!” Saffy moaned. “I’ve gained half a kilo! How is that possible? I’ve just been eating celery sticks for days!”
Last night, we were watching a documentary on BBC about parasites and suddenly Saffy sat up on the couch.
“Oh! A tapeworm! That’s what I need, a tapeworm!”
From the corner of the room, my slumbering beloved adopted mongrel dog Pooch lifted an eye and cocked his ear.
“What do you need a tapeworm for?” I asked.
“To lose weight, of course!” Saffy exclaimed. “If I ingest a tapeworm, it’ll basically sit in my digestive tracts and eat up all my food!”
Amanda frowned while I recoiled deeper into the couch. “You know,” she began, “you’ve come up with some really weird ideas, but this one is truly the grossest!”
“No, really, think about it! It just needs to hang around inside me for a week or so, and then I’ll just take a pill and flush it out!”
“Please don’t tell people I know you,” I begged.
But by now, Saffy was tripping happily in her parallel universe where she was as thin as Kate Moss and as popular with the boys as the new girl at a strip joint. “I wonder though where I would get a tapeworm! A hawker centre? No, the government would have been onto it like a tonne of bricks. They’re so disgustingly efficient, I can’t stand it.”
“Why don’t you try licking the sidewalk?” I said sarcastically.
Just then, Saffy looked up and turned towards Pooch. She had a gleam in her eyes.
Amanda and I said, at the same time, “Oh, you must be joking…”