There is nothing that irks me more than the unwanted advice that some people feel compelled to give complete strangers, unprovoked.
Years ago, I recall standing waiting for my sister in a small town in Jamaica. A man of whom I did not know or later care to know, walked up to me looked me up and down and said something to the tune of “you should not gain any more weight.”
I was mad, fuming mad. But found that I had no witty come back especially as I was holding back a few tears.
It is not until now: twenty four years later that I finally have something to say.
(That’s how slow I am on my witty retorts.)
I just found an old home movie of myself dancing around the living room to Rosemary Clooney’s Come on a-my house, with my baby doing circles in a floppy sunhat and a pink feather duster. This movie compelled me to realize some hard truths.
So here it is, my reply to this unwanted advice from a complete stranger.
Dear Jamaican man:
Although I was upset at the time. I’ll admit you were right. I haven’t looked so good since that time I was standing in the foyer sporting some unattractive cornrows with a sunburnt scalp wearing my favourite flowing 90’s flowered dress. The fabric pulled tight around the hips.
Soon after, when I returned to Canada, I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter while attending the memorial for the grandmother that she never met. I struggled with losing the weight from baby number one but lost it and then gained it again after baby number two. But looking back at this home movie I see that I still managed to dance around the living room in my bare feet, large behind swaying behind me. I still managed to work two part time jobs while raising my children. I chopped kindling every other day in winter; fat arms wobbling. For years I still managed to walk the dog or drag out the garbage bins to the curb, or at Christmas time still made my perogies from scratch. ( I know the homemade perogies did not help.)
So yes strange man in Jamaica… you were prophetic in your unkind words. I am thinking that if you yourself are still alive, I imagine that you are most likely portly and bald too. I picture you sitting somewhere alone in a wheelchair without any friends because of your penchance for telling people what you think, unprovoked and often cruelly.
But in this particular case, man with the unwanted advice; I must say, you were right. I have never looked so luminescent as that time that I was standing in the shade on a hot day in Jamaica waiting for my sister, eating a small green banana that I had just bought from a little boy off the side of the road. I stood there, eyes feasting on the glittering ocean, completely unaware that I was about to start a family, my wonderful little family that still loved me through the years, fat ass and all.