To an adolescent, there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than a parent. Dave Barry

I don’t like shopping malls, my preference is the suburban mom & pop shops; the butcher who will cut exactly what I want for my oven, the fruitier who knows my name and asks about my dogs’ health, the bakery where I can select just three croissants. Ditto chain restaurants; I abhor them. Still, I am the mother of an adolescent girl and – from time to time – it falls upon me to do my Mom’s Taxi duty.

And so it was yesterday, the dort and her friend asked (very nicely) to be ferried to a mall some distance away, the venue of the closest ice skating rink. I was allowed to pay their entrance and skate-hire fees, but was banished to a nearby restaurant, where I could see them, but not actually be seen by their friends. 

Spur is a franchised chain of which I am vocal of my disdain to the extent that my own sister has called me a ‘toffee-nosed snob’. I accept the label without apology. 

At the table next to mine were a young couple with a small daughter of about 3 years old. Both husband and wife were morbidly obese. Pretending to read my magazine, I eavesdropped as they ordered their food. They’d been eating starters of heaped plates of nachos and cheese when I arrived, now I heard an endless stream of orders; giant T Bone steaks, fries, crumbed mushrooms, garlic and cheese French rolls, onion rings, butternut, cheese sauce … Oh, the man called the waiter back. Can I have two fried eggs on top of my steak! And their giant glasses of Coke kept being refilled.

Their food arrived and – now shamelessly staring – I watched as they set to a determined shovelling. No chit chat; fork into mouth, swallow and repeat. About midway through their meal, the little girl became crotchety and her father picked her up and took her to the kiddies’ playroom, which is visible from the tables by way of closed circuit TV. To my absolute horror, the woman – not taking her eyes off the TV screen – started stealing her husband’s food. As if she was in a panic, she stuffed food from his plates into her mouth, also taking great gulps from his glass.

I’ve been unable to get this young woman off my mind. It’s fascinating* in the most ghoulish way; why – when her own plate was still overflowing – was she so desperate for more?

*Sideview’s weekend theme is fascinating. To participate, please leave a comment here.


63 Comments Add yours

  1. nrhatch says:

    I am dying, Cin! OMG! Stealing her husband’s food . . . as if she was a starving wench.

    1. nrhatch says:

      I cannot stop laughing at the quantity of food they ordered, their lack of conversation skills and table manners, and the thievery.

      People are Fascinating . . . and Scary.

      1. theonlycin says:

        It was scary to behold, horrific actually!

      2. nrhatch says:

        And sad for the child.

        We lived next door to a morbidly obese couple in NJ. They had one son who followed in their footsteps.

        Maybe nature (bad genes) . . . but probably nurture (bad habits) as well.

      3. theonlycin says:

        The little girl became crotchety because the mother kept urging her to ‘eat your foodies’. I expect she too will follow 😦

    2. theonlycin says:

      I’m profoundly baffled, Nancy, there must be some deeply psychological issue at play there?

      1. nrhatch says:

        I expect you’re right. People who are morbidly obese due to compulsive eating most likely have significant issues affecting their poor choices.

        Chain restaurant, or not . . . I would gladly give up my copy (and all further defense) of Eat Pray Love to have enjoyed the show with you. 😉

      2. theonlycin says:

        Our woman needs more love and pray and less eat, methinks.

      3. nrhatch says:

        I had to bite back a snort of laughter at that comment because BFF is asleep.

        It hurt not to let it out! 😀

  2. souldipper says:

    Yikes, Cin, this is so sad. What on earth kind of life is waiting for that poor child?

    Though not many people are willing to do it, I wonder what she would have done if, on your way out, you walked over to her and said, as lovingly as possible, “I saw that. Please get some help for yourself.”

    People have told how that sort of comment, especially coming from a complete stranger, has profoundly pierced denial.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m not brave enough, Amy, I reckon she’d pack a mean punch ;p

    2. nrhatch says:

      Amy ~ I expect that we would all be healthier and happier if everyone shared loving thoughts with us.

      That said, even with my outspoken nature, I would have a tough time working up the nerve to comment on a stranger’s obvious mental illness/eating disorder.

      Love is the antidote to fear . . . maybe some day I will be brave enough to open my mouth (and heart) in such a situation.

      1. theonlycin says:

        I doubt I ever will, Nancy 😦

  3. sue chef says:

    I share your dislike of chain restaurants, I also like to watch people.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Going to do some more people watching today, but in a nice restaurant 🙂

  4. Spelling was never my strong point, but: yeeeurgh. Feeling quite poorly now. I am very sorry for a child whose life is being ruined by perpetuated behaviour which springs from a need which is so evidently not hunger.

    There is terrible fascination with these people, though.
    I’m off for a long glass of water.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It was too sad a sight 😦

  5. Liane says:

    What a shame… poor little girl (for what she’s being taught) 😦 Do hope – I’m sure they did – the girls had fun 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Lee, they had a ball.

  6. people watching is fascinating

    Spur used to have a great salad bar, but sadly that too has fallen into the lure of fast food

    1. theonlycin says:

      Because I was sitting at a table for a while, I felt compelled to order something to go with my wine, so I ordered the starter buffalo wings, they were horrible; how do you mess up something so simple?

  7. Tilly Bud says:

    That’s really, really sad.

  8. Leeswammes says:

    Oh my, what a story! How do people become like that? I agree with the other commenters, they must have some really serious problems. And they don’t even seem to care what others think about their food intake!

    Meanwhile, your daughter, of course, had slipped your attention and was drinking whiskies with three boys in a dark back room? 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hahaha, I kept one eye on that back room throughout 😉

  9. nursemyra says:

    I like people watching too

    1. theonlycin says:

      A fave passtime of mine 😉

  10. colonialist says:

    Those people have a serious problem shared by far too many – tragic, really. Yet it is amazing how some can reach a stage where they decide for themselves that they are worth more than having a constant food obsession dictate their lives, and successfully turn their lives round.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I somehow don’t think this couple will have that success 😦

  11. Oh gawd, I’ve seen people like this in restaurants too. I think food addictions to that level have nothing to do with hunger & everything to do with psychological pain – but – unfortunately as much as I know its a disease & all that stuff….. its disgusting to see & as a chef….. its even more disgusting to cook for.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I should imagine it would be awful, Cheffie 😦

  12. SO VERY SAD!
    🙂 Mandy

  13. Perhaps you were witnessing food addiction. Really. It exists. I pity them. It’s sad. I’ve never seen it myself, but my daughter told me about a friend that overfed her child, a toddler, giving him full sized fast food meals, double burgers, large fries, and the poor child ate it all and wanted more! Of course, mom and child were both obese. What’s more sad is that a few years prior, the mother’s weight was normal. It made me wonder what causes such a thing.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s sad and puzzling, Carol ….

  14. earlybird says:

    Eating disorder? addiction? pyschological problems? ignorance? any of all of the above, I suspect. Did you see ‘Supersize me’? I long for a time when we can react to obese people eating like that as we do to people who smoke. It DOES affetc me because, I don’t know about where you live but, I’M going to be contributing to the enormous cost of their diabetes/heart/whatever treatments in a few years. (Actually, I realise I have FAR too much to say about this so I’ll stop!!)

    1. earlybird says:

      sorry – many typos – am on dodgy computer with internet problems so forgive my fingers this time 🙂

      1. theonlycin says:

        Forgiven 🙂

    2. theonlycin says:

      Good comment, earlybird!

  15. slpmartin says:

    Such a sad state of affairs presented in this post…and what’s worse is the thought of what they are teaching the child. 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      Maybe a case for social care to intervene?

  16. suzicate says:

    Apparently a hunger much deeper than food can take car of…what a thing to see! I probably would have gaped!

    1. theonlycin says:

      As I did, Suzi :O

  17. sana quijada says:

    we are all a little voyeristic in our own turn 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I guess, Doc 😉

  18. linda says:

    What a strange thing to witness. Maybe she was trying to punish him or get revenge.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Or some kind of perverse concern? If she ate his food he’d be less likely to get fatter?

  19. libraryscene says:

    oml…I started to read this at work today, as I was nabbing your pic for the journal (it looks lovely!)…let’s say, my laughter was not very librarylike… glad to know such gluttony is not just in america ~

    1. theonlycin says:

      It was simply frightful!

  20. bluebee says:

    One person’s addiction is another’s horror show, which does make for interesting people-watching – aren’t we all being watched by someone?

    1. theonlycin says:

      I guess so, bb 🙂

  21. Chantelle (JustMe) says:

    *gasps* Saw one of Little Madam’s old friends yesterday (not that 9 is old, but they go to different schools and aftercare’s now), also at the Spur 😦 Her mom was so “proud” of the fact that her 9 year old could eat a whole large pizza by herself! Why would any mother even allow that!! Oh and then she mumbled that she had taken her to Weighless and that the poor kid needs to lose 20kg!! How does one even try to motivate a 9 year old to lose so much weight? I can’t even motivate my 37 year old self to do that!

    1. theonlycin says:

      20kgs??? I only weigh 47!!!

      1. Chantelle (JustMe) says:

        *gasps* Taylor weighs 37! *reminds herself that Taylor is almost as tall as Cindy already* The poor kid needing to lose the weight is more than a head shorter than Taylor, so I’m thinking she should weigh around 30?!

      2. theonlycin says:

        Good grief 😦 *reminds self to weigh the skinny Bunn*

  22. Jamie Dedes says:

    It’s good that you post this. I think this is a problem for lots and lots of people now adays. I don’t remember so many people ever ever having such weight issues. It is scary and it gets passed on.

  23. Bulimia seems to be a sure sign of serious psychological problems that need to be taken care of. I hope this little girl can escape this…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh, I hope so too, perhaps someone will intervene!

  24. When someone is anorexic, everyone realises that there is a problem…… most times the person with the disorder realises it too. The problem with so many obese people is that they actually dont think there is a problem. (Or at least i think that.) If you know there is a problem, is the next step not fixing it? It becomes a horrible cycle in which food becomes my friend, and no one realises what balance is all about. I have a few people in my office that just eat and eat and eat….loads of crap. Then they give me attitude because i try to eat rather healthy. (At least during the day.) If you think about it, it really is as bad as any other addiction.

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