My big fat watery nightmare
As the old year ended, I was confronted by an article written by Samantha Maiden in the News Ltd Sunday papers about politicians losing weight.
Sam had initially selected me as a successful example of size reduction. Come the last Sunday of the year, I was feeling appropriately affirmed by the anticipated lauding of my dietary achievements.
As dawn broke I leapt out of bed, into the car, and off to the local shop to pick up the Sunday Herald Sun. But as I opened the paper my bubble burst. Compared to Bob Baldwin’s shedding of 70 kilos, my paltry 4 kilos represented little more than a foregone Sunday roast. Indeed in the article itself, my role was simply to play foil to Jamie Briggs’ effort of losing 17 kilos, inspired by people continually telling him that he looked as fat as me.
Thus the New Year began with my feelings about my own weight having returned to the same depressed place that had ushered in every New Year of my life. I dealt with the situation by eating a satisfaction flavoured ice cream topped with lashings of guilt. It felt good.
And so it was, that on a family holiday to Adelaide, I took my kids on the water slides at the Beach House in Glenelg.
Water slides define childhood. They are wet and messy. Their fun is based on an out of control rush that prompts screaming and laughing. Your body is tossed this way and that, and then thrown up against the chute as you round a corner at high speed, and finally spat out with a large amount of water rushing up your nose.
The kids were excited about jumping on the slides and so was I. Going last, I watched as three of my children successfully launched themselves down the slide at inappropriately short intervals which had the pool attendant agitated. I waited the required time and then took my turn.
I hurled myself down the slide, but then, after ten metres, I stopped. Something was wrong. I frantically pushed with my hands exhibiting the same grace as a sprinting elephant seal. But after much exertion I had progressed only five metres.
Realising that the cause of my inertia was that I was way too fat for this ride, I lay flat on my back, motionless, on a water slide. I was an offence to physics.
In order to move I tried everything. I flapped my arms with vigour yet moved but an inch. I lay still and straight, hands by my side and head back to reduce wind resistance: I didn’t move at all. Indeed I was about to roll over and attempt crawling down the slide.
Then I heard the inevitable: screams and giggles as kids jumped in the slide and came up behind me. As two girls careened into my back they yelped with surprise and then sighed with the knowledge that their anticipated rush had ended before it had barely started.
With embarrassment they asked if they could give me a push. By now my humiliation was complete. Personal dignity had been totally surrendered and so with a whimper I gratefully accepted their offer of propulsion. They pushed with their legs and it bought us another few metres. Slowly we edged our way down the slide, with every minute adding another child to our blockage.
Meanwhile, outside the Beach House the slides curl themselves about the building so that passers-by can watch the silhouettes fly down the ride. On this occasion, spectators gathered to witness an ever growing blockage building up in the tube. The slide had constipation.
With every new addition to our caravan the pressure mounted. I feared that if I became too waterlogged my body might form a perfect seal with the tube risking a slide explosion.
After what felt like an eternity, I eventually popped out the end like a champagne cork with a dozen children spilling out behind me. They ran as fast as they could away from me, back up the stairs, to the entry of the slides, to make sure they were ahead of me in the queue lest I had any intentions of having another go. They needn’t have worried. That was as likely as me doing a bungy jump.
The event has left me scarred. My confidence is shot. If six months on a treadmill can result in this kind of a train wreck then what is the point? It is a question with which I wrestle.
I continue to trek to the gym in a hang dog fashion every morning. But I must confess, every night before it is chocolate and ice-cream which occupy my dreams.
Lord, give me strength.
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