An Old Frenemy: Tuesday Aug. 5th, 2014

Yep, they’re huge, like tree trunks. I look into the full-length mirror hanging from my closet door, my face contorted in morbid curiosity. Or at least a mid-sized telephone poles.
I turn sideways, searching for a good angle. But, like peering into a circus fun-house mirror, everything’s bloated.

“Maybe I could…” I run my hands down my sides to my hips where they stop momentarily, hesitant. Behind my reflection I can see Tams laying on my bed, her face buried in a Cosmo.

I’m usually not like this, not since June Bug and her Mable’s Lib campaign. It’s only occasionally, like now after Mom invited Tammy Williams over (maybe in attempt to get me away from “bad influences”), that the old beast awakes and I regress to my pathetic 8th-grade self.

“What do you think?” I ask, knowing I’m in for an honest answer. Tams is good for that: honest answers.

She looks up, her long blonde bangs falling over her face. She sweeps them aside to reveal a pair of starry, hazel eyes and a squat pug nose. She gives me a slow once-over (as if I’d a chance to change during the past hour) before returning to her article. “What have you been eating.”

“Everything.” I slide my hands past my hips, wrapping them around one of my thighs. I’m unable to touch fingertips. “I’m really into Mexican now.”

I smile at the pun and the horror of the mirror melts away. June has been an extra strength aspirin for the hangover that is adolescence. “Su muy buena para ti.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Tam’s words are scalpel sharp, slipping past my body and attempting to dissect my intangible parts, going for my sense of self-worth with the tenacity of a she-wolf. “I’ve told you, like a million times, ‘you wear what you eat.'”

I walk over to my bed and collapse onto the sheets. The late afternoon sun pours in through open blinds, splashing on photos of cousins and fishing trips, dog-eared novels and reading fair trophies. The aroma of tomato sauce fills the room, wafting up like a fart from the kitchen.

“It’s hard sometimes, you know? And Mom never buys anything healthy, mostly frozen dinners.” I weigh my words down with urgency, adding a slight whine for effect. At one time, I would’ve followed Tams’ beauty advice to the emaciating letter. No carbs, no sugars, no fats, nothing. I was once down to a hundred and three pounds. My ribs protruded, and my hands shook. I didn’t have my period for four months.

“Well, yeah its hard. Who likes to eat celery and tuna all the time?” Her voice changes, becoming shrill as she pulls her nose outward, attempting to form a perfect triangle. Tams can do Jennifer Aniston’s hair, she’s blessed that way, but her broad nose is something else. It’s a “curse” she says and the result of bad Polish genes. Her voice returns to normal as she flips the page. “I sure don’t, but I do it.”

I sit up and eye Tams’ body. She’s slim but curves in all the right places, her hips and thighs. Everything is complemented by full, perfectly symmetrical breasts, each like a rip mango underneath her Ralph Lauren polo. Sure, she’s beautiful, even with her nose.

“And you can’t just blame your Mom,” she continues, “you’re a woman, use your allowance.”

I try doing the figures in my mind, but I don’t know the price of celery or tuna or anything else and gave up, not wanting to forfeit my measly fifteen dollars a week for what Mom should be buying.

“Then what will I go to the movies on or the mall? I have to make it last.” I want to tell her that not everyone’s father is a dentist but don’t. We get the “family friend” discount at Dr. William’s clinic, and Oliver may be needing braces soon. I don’t want to rock the boat.

“Well, you should go to the park and run or something. That’s the right thing to do. Instead, you just walk around the mall eating ice-cream. I saw you and that fat Mexican last week.” Tams leans in close, her voice a whisper, “And remember, with your fat grandma and lame brother, your genes are working against you.”

I cringe.

To Tammy Williams, the body reflects the person, especially the presence or absence of loser genes. These manifest themselves as shyness, lousy hair, obesity, and the inability to hold conversations with the opposite sex. With a little direction, she’d made a great Nazi, eugenics being her specialty.

“It’s just them,” I say, knowing what Tams expects of desperate, lonely Mable Nolan. I don’t care to introduce the new, improved version. “Aunt Kate is beautiful and shes thin-thin.” I think of Kate’s perfect form, of how she’s always at the gym, has a gorgeous husband, a two-story Colonial with rose bushes and a gazebo. “She’d been a runner in college, a distance runner, she won medals. Maybe in a few years, you know, with those genes…”

“Um, no. Realistic goals please.” Tams’ lips curl in amusement. “And stop hanging out with that June. She smells.”

Gringa puta! If my thoughts had weight, Tammy Williams would be a pancake, crushed flat and with her brains coming out her ears.

“Dinner’s ready.” Mom’s voice sings out from below.

“You want some dinner,” I ask, ready for her to leave. “She normally doesn’t cook. She’s made it for you.”

“No.” Tams says. She’s already bagging up her magazines and putting her hair into a tight ponytail. She moves towards the door. “And you shouldn’t want any either.”

Creo que hago. I think I do.” I smile a healthy, hungry smile. But Tams doesn’t notice. She’s already gone.

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