Coming Out: Part 1
by Jerry Thomas
Katie looked nervously around the room at her classmates. Professor Quinn was about to begin his lecture in their course on the Literature of Elizabethan England. It was an advanced course for seniors, so there were only about twenty of them seated around a U-shaped table in the small classroom.
It was one of the most boring classes Katie had ever taken, but it was required for her major so she didn’t have a choice. The only thing in the crowded room that held her interest was sitting directly across from her. His name was Mickey and he was the most gorgeous hunk of man she had ever laid her eyes on. The other girls in class didn’t pay the least bit of attention to him, but to Katie he was the kind of guy she fantasized about late at night in bed when she couldn’t sleep.
She realized for the umpteenth time that she had been staring at him and she hoped the others hadn’t noticed her interest. She looked around at their bored, passive faces and was relieved that they still hadn’t caught on to her extreme crush for Mickey. It was embarrassing, but she couldn’t help it. She was hopelessly and incurably attracted to fat guys. The fatter, the better. And Mickey was undeniably the fattest person in the classroom. In fact, at almost 450 pounds, he was most likely the fattest person, male or female, on the entire college campus.
* * *
Mickey tried to concentrate on what their professor was babbling on about. But his thoughts kept wandering to other things, things that made him profoundly depressed. He was convinced that the entire female world was conspiring against him to make sure he never, ever had sex with any of its members.
But can you really blame them? a nagging little voice said in his head. Fat guys don’t get laid, you know that, Mickey. Either get with the program and lose some weight, or resign yourself to a life of loneliness and celibacy.
Unfortunately for Mickey, he loved to eat. And the unhappier and more depressed he became, the more he ate. Food became a way of compensating for his sense of sexual deprivation. It was a vicious circle: the more he ate, the fatter he got, and the fatter he got, the more remote the possibility that he would ever see any action with one of the hotties in that classroom, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
Usually they just ignored him, or dismissed him with a cutting remark when he did get the courage to make a half-hearted approach. But the worst thing of all was when they actually stared at him, as if they couldn’t believe that anyone could be as disgustingly fat as he was.
Take Katie, for example. Every day she sat directly across from him in class and he often caught her staring more or less openly at his huge body. Take a picture, why don’t ya? She wasn’t the prettiest girl in class, in fact she was somewhat flat-chested and had stringy brown hair that looked like it could use a wash. But she had gentle doe-like brown eyes and there was a certain beauty to her thin face. Mickey knew that even with her he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
* * *
Katie lingered after class, hoping she would finally find the courage to talk to Mickey, but each time she tried to approach him, she chickened out at the last minute. What would she say to him anyway? Hey, Mickey, I really dig your big fat bod?
Instead, she just stood there and watched his beautiful wide hips as he lumbered away down the corridor. He has a way of walking that is just so cool, she thought. He moved in a slow, dignified way, like a king, yes, like a Polynesian king. She tried to imagine what he looked like without his shirt on.
“Incredible, isn’t he?” She jumped at the sound of Vanessa’s voice behind her. Oh my God, she knows! She noticed me positively drooling over him!
“I mean, it’s amazing that any guy can actually be such a chunk,” Vanessa continued. “How much do you think he weighs? 300? 400? More?”
“Oh, I would have no idea,” Katie replied evasively. “Why don’t you ask him?”
“Maybe I will. Maybe three of us should get together and take him out. There would be enough of him for each of us, don’t you think? He must weigh as much as three guys put together.”
“Yeah, sure, Vanessa, that would be funny, wouldn’t it? Three girls with a big fat guy like him.” Katie was relieved that apparently Vanessa hadn’t seen through her secret.
“Well, gotta go, Kat. Maybe we can cruise for some real guys this weekend. See you later.”
Katie watched her with a look full of hatred. Such a bitch! So smug, so sure of herself. It hurt her to hear Vanessa talk that way about Mickey. He seems like a really nice guy. So what if he’s fat? Bitch! And yet she realized that lots of girls on campus might say the same thing.
* * *
Katie was getting desperate. Soon the semester would be over and then they would all graduate. They would each go their own separate ways and she would probably never see him again. She had to do something soon before it was too late. But what? What could she possibly do or say to let him know how she felt?
She thought about it for awhile and then she had an idea. She remembered a very shy girl in her class in fourth grade. One day the girl came up to her on the playground and without saying a word, handed her a handwritten note: Would you be my friend? It was such a cute thing to do and Katie had immediately said, “Yeah, sure.” Later that girl became one of her best friends. Could she try something like that with Mickey now?
She almost rejected the idea as soon as she thought it up. This is totally stupid! He’ll think I’m some kind of a jerk.
But what if she wrote him a nice letter instead? A kind of love letter? It was a big risk and he might take it the wrong way. Might even think it was a practical joke. But what else could she do? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And she figured there was at least a 50-50 chance that it might work.
That evening in her dorm room, Katie sat down at her desk and took out a sheet of the fancy pink writing paper that until then had laid unused in the drawer. It seemed so weird to actually write a letter by hand, like something her parents or grandparents would have done. Even more so a love letter. How old-fashioned! She felt like a character in Wuthering Heights.
She thought for a moment, took a deep breath, and then put pen to paper.
How are you? This is Katie, from Professor Quinn’s class. I’m the girl with the long brown hair who always sits across from you. You’re probably thinking it’s too weird to get a letter from me when we’re in class together every day. But the reason I’m writing is
Here she hesitated. Well, what to say now? That you turn me on? That I fantasize about running my hands all over your soft sexy body? She looked at the paper and was about to crumple it up and forget the idea altogether.
No, she had to continue. There was no other way. Either this, or forget about him forever.
But the reason I’m writing is I thought we could get together sometime to study for finals or do something else. (Does that sound too obvious – “do something else”?) You’re so smart and it seems like you’re the only one who really knows what’s going on in class. The rest of them are such idiots. Especially Vanessa! Ha, ha!
Anyway, I never get a chance to talk to you after class (big lie!), so that’s why I thought I’d just write you a note. After all, we are English majors, aren’t we?
You’re such a sweet guy (there, I finally said it) and I just thought it would be nice to talk. Give me a call sometime, my number is 285-3795.
See you soon!
Whew! She sighed from the emotional effort of it all. She read the letter five or six times, and having convinced herself that she had found the right balance between restraint and confession, she put the letter in the matching pink envelope and put it securely away in her backpack. But not before she kissed it, just for good luck.
* * *
The next day Katie sat restlessly through the entire class, barely listening to what her professor was saying. Every now and then she would cast a glance in Mickey’s direction. Sometimes he noticed her looking at him and he would glance back at her, but his facial expression was neutral, revealing nothing. She felt like jumping out of her seat and impatiently watched the glacial progress of the clock on the wall.
Finally Professor Quinn finished up his lecture, a few minutes early in fact, and wished them all a good weekend. Mickey stowed his books in his backpack and rose heavily from his chair. Katie quickly gathered her things and rushed out the door. She wanted to be outside well ahead of him so she would be ready to hand him her special message in the corridor. She fished nervously in her backpack and panicked momentarily when she couldn’t find the envelope. After a bit of effort she finally located it and waited for Mickey outside the door, biting her lip and feeling more than a little foolish.
She watched the other students as they emerged from the classroom. At last Mickey squeezed his enormous frame through the doorway, swinging his heavy arms back and forth. As always, Katie got a thrill just from seeing him move. She waited a moment to give him time to take a few steps down the hallway.
“Here, Mickey, this is for you.” She felt the blood rush to her head as she shoved the pink envelope into his astonished face. “Open it later, okay? Have a good weekend. Bye!” She rushed off before he had a chance to say a word.
In her haste she completely overlooked Vanessa’s questioning gaze.
* * *
Mickey got into his car and drove back to his off-campus apartment, confused thoughts swirling in his mind. After high school, he had taken a few years off to work and thus had saved enough money to avoid dorm life and rent his own small apartment.
He threw his backpack on the couch and collapsed into the love seat, which, though intended for two, was roomy enough to accommodate his width. He pulled the envelope out of his shirt pocket and contemplated it for a moment.
The envelope had a sprig of cherry blossoms printed in one corner and someone, presumably Katie, had written his name on it. He put it to his nose and smelled a slight odor of perfume. He wondered if it was some kind of joke, but somehow Katie didn’t seem like the type to play pranks, even if she did stare at him constantly in class.
Finally he ripped open the envelope and started to read. He read through the letter once and then had to read it over again. What’s this all about? He analyzed every single word, trying to decipher their intent and meaning. The part about him being a “sweet guy” caught his particular attention. Really? Can she be serious? He thought about her staring at him and an improbable idea crossed his mind.
This was definitely a first. The closest he had ever come to receiving a message like this were the valentines he received from girls in grade school, though they usually depicted dancing elephants or hippos. He remembered that a few girls did write nice messages to him in his high school yearbook, but that seemed like a long time ago. He sighed with a melancholy sense of yearning. It could be a joke, but then again, maybe not. And what did he have to lose, he reasoned. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Go to Part 2
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