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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Because I Can

This tie I'm wearing is not meant to impress you. There's no ulterior motive behind it.

I'm not asking for a raise, or going on a job interview, or giving a big presentation. I'm not attending a funeral, or officiating at a wedding, or sneaking out for a romantic rendezvous, either. The only reason I'm wearing this tie is because I'm not fat anymore. 

Overweight? Yes, by about ten pounds, but no longer by thirty. 

The more forgiving khakis have been shoved to the back of the closet, along with extra-large dress shirts and some of the poofier cargo shorts, waiting for the next time I balloon into them. That's been the story of my waistline throughout my life. Bone skinny as a little kid, fat through middle school, bone skinny through high school, slightly doughy in college (thanks a lot, beer), slender at the wedding, second-trimester imitation during the pregnancies (thanks a lot, greasy cravings covered in cheese sauce), and so on through the years since the kids were born.

The most recent weight loss has been possible thanks to a way of eating we've adopted that seems to promote a better balance of calorie intake to calorie burn. We haven't cut out sugars, but we have cut them way back. We haven't cut out flour, just all-purpose flour. You'd be amazed the array of baked goods still available if you embrace baking with alternate flours like oat, almond and tapioca. The purpose of this post, however, is not to preach about healthy eating. Rather, it is to explain why I'm suddenly wearing nicer clothes.

You see, when you gain weight it can be disheartening and embarrassing to purchase stylish clothing to fit your new girth. We've all got those lines we don't want to cross. For me, it's thirty-six. So long as the zipper zips and the button doesn't tear free of the fabric and rocket across the room like a ballistic missile, I'm buying nothing larger than a thirty-six-inch waistline. The pants might be screaming, the pockets might be in a state of permanent gape, and my shoes might be staring up longingly at a hemmed cuff hanging halfway down my calf, yet I will convince myself they fit perfectly just to avoid the reality that I truly need thirty-sevens. 

Unfortunately, that approach to denial does have its limitations. Suits are a perfect example.

Whoever invented tailored suits should annually be burned in effigy because suits don't care if you can't cope with your new found fatness. I own several suits and they're all tailored, which means they were purchased at times in my life when I could stomach the notion of being publicly measured like cattle at an auction by a stranger drawing chalk lines on my ass. The moment your weight fluctuates five pounds in either direction, a tailored suit looks more like something you borrowed from a cousin who's almost your size. Gain more than ten pounds and the suit becomes a relic of bygone days, relegated to the far ends of your closet along with winter coats, embroidered sweatshirts and Halloween costumes.

The pants aren't the half of it, either. Few things scream "unchecked weight gain" louder than suit jackets so tight your range of motion is only slightly better than someone encased in an upperbody cast. When your double-breasted jackets don't even afford you one-ply protection from the elements... When your vests ride so high up your stomach they might as well be tube-tops... When your shirt collars are so tight you have to unbutton them to swallow, that's when you trade out suits and ties for husky khakis and reasonably attractive golf shirts.

Then comes the day you take a diet seriously, or begin exercising regularly, or reduce your intake of sugar and gluten as we did. The pounds gradually melt away. You become reacquainted with your jawline. Your nose no longer appears ready to pop off your face. You realize your clothes are suddenly so roomy you wouldn't look out of place singing lead for the Talking Heads. Little by little, you experiment with pants, shirts and suits you gave up on long ago, and they fit!

Which brings me back to where I began. I'm not wearing this tie to impress you. I'm wearing this tie because I can.




2016 Mark Feggeler