Simon stood, pushing himself up from the sofa, and then stopped. He felt it, there in his stomach. A spasm rippled right across his abdomen, like some hidden fist gripping at his insides, followed by the audible sound of his stomach gurgling. If he hadn’t been on his own he would have been almost crippled by embarrassment, the indignity of another hearing his grumble of hunger.
Quickly he walked into his flat’s kitchen and poured himself a glass of water, he had to stop his stomach protesting. After three full glasses, which he rapidly gulped down, his stomach once again settled. One more glass of water and he’d be feeling bloated, which would kill those hunger pangs and he could finally relax for the evening.
Today was a Fluid Day, the same as the day before, in his carefully worked scheme, which meant that he couldn’t eat any solid food. For breakfast he’d a large black coffee, for lunch it had been soup, his evening meal was soup again – a very watered down can of soup and only half of that. Throughout the day he’d drunk lots of cold water. There were no calories in it and the water always bloated his stomach, killing those hunger pangs. This evening his hunger pangs had started early, he’d have to drink a lot of water but he couldn’t give in. He still had a lot of weight to lose.
It had begun slowly over a year ago. At the age of twenty-three he’d finally come out, but only after he’d moved to London. His first step had been to go to a gay bar. One Saturday evening he’d walked into one of Soho’s many gay bars, bought a drink and sat himself on one of the bar’s stools. There he sat, ignored by everyone around him, for an age. He drank two and a half drinks without anyone speaking to him. Eventually he made a move; he turned around and said, to the man sat next to him:
“Hi, I’m Simon.”
“I don’t do fat pigs!” The man snapped, turning his head away.
“I’m not fat,” Simon protested.
“Who are you fucking kidding, fatty,” the man said, not even looking at Simon.
With his confidence shattered Simon had fled out of there. True, he’d been a podgy child, his belly falling over the top of his trousers and he was always the last one picked for any team game. As a teenager, as puberty’s hormones kicked in, the weight dropped off his frame. Though not a svelte-like figure, he still had “love-handles” there at the top of his trousers, but for the first time in his life he liked his body. No longer was he “Podgy”.
Now, as an adult, trying to finally come out, his figure still wasn’t right, he was still too fat.
After a round of painful rejections, every bar he tried he only got the same results (When anyone had spoken to him it had been to reject him), he decided he had to do something about it, to get himself a body other men would find attractive.
First he joined a gay gym. On his initial visit he’d had an assessment with one of the gym’s trainers, a surprisingly camp man for all his muscles, called Gil.
When it came to his weight Gil had him step onto the gym’s scales.
“It’s going to take more then just exercise to lose this much weight,” Gil said. “You’ll have to go on a crash diet.”
Simon simply nodded his agreement.
The problem was, even five trips to the gym a week and a fat-free diet, the weight was slow to fall off. It was the body he so desired, the lean and buff physic of the models that always filled the gay magazines, the handsome actors the media always portrayed as the image of a gay men and they always seemed to fill the bars he went into. As the weeks past by and he didn’t get that body he found himself slipping down into depression.
He had been so depressed that one weekend he had shut himself away in his flat, not leaving it once until he went back to work on Monday morning. That weekend his appetite vanished, all he consumed was fruit juice and water. When he reached the gym on Monday, after work, he found he’d lost two pounds in weight. At first he was surprised and then delighted, at last he was making progress. With that delight came an idea, a liquid diet.
So, for two days a week he ate no solid food, only drank fluids – low calorie fluids. But soon he grew impatient with his weight loss, it still wasn’t fast enough, and the number of days he ate solid food dropped down to two days a week. Some weeks he ate no solid foods at all. Finally he saw the weight tumble off his frame. Suddenly his clothes were too big for him, that paunch over his trousers was receding, he could begin to see his ribs under his skin, but he was still unhappy. He still didn’t have that lean body he so desired; every time he looked in the mirror, he still saw a fat body reflected back at him.
The less he ate the more he found himself obsessing about food. He would wander around the supermarket mentally selecting the meals he would treat himself to when he’d finally lost enough weight. He’d avidly read restaurant reviews, again promising himself a visit there when he finally had his desired body. Cooking programs became some of his main viewing on television, he even watched the Cookery Channel on his cable TV.
The more weight he lost only meant there was yet more weight to lose. Now the less he ate the slower the weight seemed to fall off him, it felt like he’d never get that body he desired but he couldn’t give up, he couldn’t lose faith in his goal.
He’d stopped going to the gym, he simply didn’t have the energy for it; he didn’t go to bars anymore, not because of rejection but simply one drink would make him drunk; his sex drive had gone too, rarely did he get an erection anymore; and he seemed tired all the time, but he couldn’t stop. He had to be thin, thin and desirable.
Recently, the griping and grumbling pains in his stomach had been getting more frequent and severe. More often drinking water didn’t ease them, no matter how much he drank. He didn’t like to take pain killers because they made his head spin. So, now all he could do was wait for them to ease, even if it took all night.
He returned to the sitting room, a soap opera was playing on the television, and dropped down onto the sofa. God he was tired tonight, his eyelids felt so heavy and it was only early evening. The griping pain in his stomach, even after all the water he’d drunk, was rapidly returning. He closed his eyes, for a moment the tiredness surpassing the stomach pains, and fall back onto the sofa, his body feeling so weak.