The portents were unmistakable. On Tuesday night, a surprise phone call from a long-lost friend, who displayed all the evangelical zeal of the newly converted. On Wednesday morning, the surprise discovery that even Peter had embraced the concept. The planets were in alignment; the hour had come. Thus it was that by Wednesday lunchtime, I too had joined the massed ranks of the
pedo-philes. (Note to self: you need to find a better expression that this. Come back to it later.)
In any case, how could I possibly resist a keep-fit regime which principally revolves around counting things (just think of the spreadsheets), and one which rests on such an alluringly simple binary absolute? 10,000 steps a day = a healthy constitution, you say? Arbitrary illusionist nonsense, you say? Oh, quite possibly; but then, like reiki, if you choose to imbue a ritual with meaning, then it takes on that meaning.
Desperate times call for drastic measures. The “incipient” pot belly which has dogged me since the end of the 1990s can no longer be passed off as a temporary swelling, and I can no longer cling to the delusion that I somehow possess a “natural” 32-inch waist. Those smart Hugo Boss “going out in” trousers which I bought in December, with the more “classic” higher waist? I’ve worn them twice. The physical discomfort I could cope with, but as for the Friar Tuck/Figure 3 profile: one can only spend so many hours clenching one’s abdomen without risking a nasty rupture. Sure, the fashionably low-slung bum cleavage look has served me well for the past four years, but I sense a sea change in the air. Adapt and survive, and all that.
Basically, I need to break the linear progression of the last twenty-five years. In 1980, I skipped around in skin-tight 28-inch drainpipes. In 1990, my white jeans measured 30 inches. By 2000, I had progressed to a still reasonable 32 inches. But that’s where the progression stops, do you hear? I refuse to go any further! It shall not happen!
And then there’s the new horror of the “incipient” double chin, which sneaked up on me literally overnight, giving me the most almighty fright when I looked in the mirror the following morning. Again, I deny its existence! I am not going to turn into my father!
(Who went from skinny-as-a-beanpole in his teens, to being nicknamed “Fatman” behind his back in his forties – as I accidentally found out while temping in his office one summer. Things You Don’t Say In Front Of The Boss’s Son, Lesson One. I had never seen a roomful of people look so sheepish.)
But why should any of this matter? Metabolisms change, and it’s not as if I’m particularly bothered about my pulling power these days. Hey, if push came to shove then I could always rock the Daddy Bear look. (OK, the lack of body hair might be an issue, but I dare say some suitable variant could be worked out.)
I’ll tell you why it matters. It’s because of that sylph-like boyfriend of mine, that’s why. Because, no matter what he eats, K never puts on so much as a spare millimetre. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to be known as “the fat one”. Competition, you see.
The secret of K’s dieting success is a simple one: due to a long-undetected lactose intolerance, he has historically enjoyed the benefits of a speedy and efficient digestive system, shall we say. This means that most of his food doesn’t really hang around long enough to be converted into blubber. I know, I know: couldn’t you just spit with jealousy? But then we can’t all be blessed with such good fortune.
However, now that the lactose intolerance has been detected, and all dairy produce abandoned (save a single splash of milk in his morning tea, strictly one cup only or else there’s trouble), I sense a window of competitive opportunity beginning to form. With K now facing the same risks to his waistline as the rest of us, it’s time to seize the initiative.
Sure, there were other slimming options, but I have ruled them all out. Drink less beer? This would have been possible, until the unexpected and joyous return of former guest-blogger Alan to Nottingham about three weeks ago.
One of the great joys of Alan’s return is that once again, I can enjoy the regular company of a reliably available midweek drinking partner. (K doesn’t “do” city pubs, still less gay ones, and most of my other erstwhile midweek drinking partners have long since de-camped to lives of suburban sobriety.) To know and love Alan is to know and love beer, you see. Lots of it. Usually until stupid o’clock chucking-out time in The Central, for Alan has as much of an aversion to “getting an early night” as I have. Yes, I know that other drinks are available: but pub wines are shite, too much gin makes me weepy, and too many Vodka Red Bulls make me hyper. So we have to find new ways of making room for the beer.
Go to the gym? My refusal to countenance this is one of the touchstones of my identity. Along with a liking for rock gigs, an abhorrence of Gaydar, and an enjoyment of the social company of heterosexual men, it is one of the few ways in which I successfully avoid being a total Big Fat Gay Stereotype. Christ knows I’m narcissistic enough already, without paying good money to be even more so. To say nothing of the pain, the humiliation, the lack of intellectual stimulus and the (shriek!) sports wear. (The very thought!)
And don’t even think of suggesting that I abandon my large whole-milk lattes at lunchtime. Because I’d rather be clinically obese than drink another f**king disgusting soy latte ever again in my life.
Which just leaves my last hope, the pedometer. OK: as fashion accessories go, they’re a bit naff (what the hell matches with claret and grey anyway?), but then it’s nicely concealed at the top of my belt by the Friar Tuck overhang, so I’m not too concerned as yet.
It does seem a bit on the generous side with its counting, though. Wiggles, shimmies and pelvic thrusts all tend to bump up the total, so I’m having something of an overhaul in the deportment department. However, I can at least offset these against my morning ablutions, which will remain uncounted until someone develops a waterproof model on a garter, suitable for wearing in the shower. (Little business opportunity for someone there.)
We’ve got a matching his-and-his set, naturally. K was initially a bit concerned about getting them mixed up, until it dawned on us that as they get reset to zero every night, there’s not much point in forming specific attachments. It’s not like toothbrushes. And by the steady stream of texts, e-mails and phone calls I’ve been getting over the last couple of days (“What are you up to? I’m on 3000…“), I think he’s taking it even more seriously than I am. Ah, you can’t beat the competitive spirit.
9370 steps on the first full day, I’ll have you know. Not bad! That belt’s feeling looser already. Excel here we come!