“If diets worked, we’d all be thin already.”—Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist and science writer
Several years ago my friend Janelle and I were having another late night work conversation, long after we should have gone home but for the crushing workload. We were lamenting our weight and body conditions. This gorgeous, 5-foot, dark haired beauty who looked pretty tiny to me uttered a phrase that captured my 40 years of searching for the perfect body. “Vicky, I’ve been looking for the zipper to the fat suit all my life too.”
Wham! Just like that, one simple sentence struck my soul center like lightening. All my years of dieting, exercising, self-loathing, success on some programs, epic weight swings were summed up in one thought. If only I could find that zipper…
As I look at old black and white photos, I see a normal size 7-year-old kid with a pixie haircut, deep dimples and sparkling eyes. It would be convenient and fashionable to blame my mom (and Dad) for my early weight issues. Dad was a man short on words of love, but knew how to share his affection through cakes, cookies and Trevalino Bakery’s jelly doughnuts. He worked the night shift at the paper mill and brought me treats to discover in his lunch box each morning. Even now Henry’s Hostess fruit pies whisper love to me though he is gone.
As I approached puberty, my Mom worried I was getting plump. I overheard her tell my dad to stop bringing me treats. She started monitoring my snacking, calling out from our living room, “Tory, what are you getting?” as I rummaged for evening munchies. She suggested I eat a piece of fruit when her delicious pies, chips and Dad’s booty sat on the counter. So I learned the art of sneak eating, stashing forbidden loot stuffed under my shirt as I made a beeline for my room, waving an apple in my hand as I hustled by Mom.
But I won’t blame my mom.
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“They say it’s your birthday. We’re gonna have a good time.”—The Beatles
It’s time for the annual wearing of the tiara. As in, it’s my 57th birthday today and I have several tiaras to choose from. My son Adam bought me an antique one with seed pearls at a dandy little shop in Provincetown several years ago, though it was well past my birthday. I have a 40th birthday version and the one from my dental company job photo shoot where I posed as the tooth fairy (and oh, the dress and wings that came with THAT tiara!) The best one however, is my 50th birthday Audrey Hepburn replica from the movie Roman Holiday. It’s covered in Swarovski crystals and sparkles with intense beams when the light hits it.
I am shameless when it comes to my birthday—telling random strangers wherever I happen to be that it’s my birthday. Because I LOVE THIS DAY! It’s a celebration of living joyfully, appreciation for my parents who made me and fun for my family who have come to accept my narcissism for my special day as a loving quirk.
My family thinks my habit of counting down the days to my birthday is endearing. I write the number of shopping days on my husband’s Ansel Adams work calendar. About 20 days before, I start singing, “It’s almost my birthday!” to the Beatles Birthday tune. Mark loves to tease me when I say, “My birthday is in X days.” He replies sardonically, “It’s your birthday soon?” It’s our fun little game. I would be disappointed if he didn’t play along.
Mark loves to surprise me so my birthday is a natural time to indulge in this. In my 20’s, he arranged a work posse party at Chuck E. Cheese’s so we could play games and swim in the ball pool. On my 40th Mark, my siblings, nieces, nephews and our kids staged a remake of the Wizard of Oz starring me as Dorothy seeking out the wizard to reverse my trip “over the hill.” And of course, the 50th blowout was the best and biggest yet. In between the BIG ONES, there were treasure hunts, dinners lovingly made at home and fancy ones at swanky restaurants, and a trip to the Smithsonian to see the real ruby slippers. Homemade gifts from our sweet sons who reveled in the joy we created. One year, my darling even made me a banana cream pie because my mom always made me that dessert and she had passed on. I love M for trying as baking is not his forte. We still laugh over the pencil eraser texture of the filling which was an odd gray color from the skim milk.
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