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 thoughts on “FASCINATING

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

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

    • 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?

  4. 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? 😉

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!)

  9. 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 ~

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

  11. *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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Pingback: THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS « The only Cin

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