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When The Plane is Unbalanced and You’re the Tipping Point
Will the plane get off the ground?
By Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it is taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Attention Passengers: Seven passengers in the first ten rows need to move to the back of the plane. There’s too much weight in the front.
(Announcement on a recent return trip to Florida. True Story.)
I freeze, can barely breathe. Is she talking to me? I’m in Row 3, Aisle, paid an extra $20 to have this preferred seating, front of the plane, aisle seat. Am I causing the plane to be too heavy in the front? I keep my head down, not making eye contact. I will not turn around to see if anyone behind me is moving. Next to me, in the center seat, is a woman who came on in a wheelchair with her husband who’s in the window seat. They’re not going anywhere.
Then I hear this woman to my right say, “It’s you. They’re talking to you. The entire plane is leaning towards you.” And there it is, my nightmare, everyone on the plane begins pointing toward me. “Fat, fat, fat,” they’re shouting, “Fatty Patty.”
“Hey, that’s not my name, I’m Trishie, not Patty. Nothing rhymes with Trishie.”
For thirty-four years I stayed married to a man who abhorred fat people. I was tethered to the bathroom scale. If I could just lose weight, then maybe I’d be loved.
When I drew a picture of our marriage, there were two people separated by a bathroom scale. It was clear to me that my weight was keeping us apart. It was only by helping another woman with a similar picture that the truth came out. The scale was keeping us together instead of separating us.
It never occurred to me it was my fat that kept us together, kept me trapped.
In my shame, I was unworthy of love. So, I cut the tie, but the fat dreams continued.
“How many passengers have moved back,” the airline tyrant asks her subordinate.”
“Two,” he says.
“Well, we’re just going to stay right here on this runway until five more of you fatties, er passengers, move,” she warns. (I’m taking liberties here!)
I refuse to move. I’ll play the old lady card if I have to: I’m so old I don’t even have to take off my shoes at TSA.
Now passengers are moving back so fast the attendant must tell them to come back up front to their original seats.
The woman next to me leans in and laughs saying, “I was sure it was my husband who was causing all the weight in the front. I could actually see the plane listing towards him.”
She was jibing her husband about his bulk. It had nothing to do with me.
Still, I worry…
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