My partner of twenty years is obsessed with the size of his belly at the moment. Is this something that happens to all forty-year-old men?
He complains daily that he can’t fit into the trousers or shorts he slid into six months ago and wears most garments with the top button opened, blaming tightness in that department for not exactly excessive, but definitely persistent wind. Wanting a flat, or at least a fit stomach region is developing into something of an obsession. So, I reminded him that his rotund tum provides us with a reason to eat more healthily, an opportunity to get him some new trousers and a cheap laugh whenever we need one. I also told him that perfection is not only unattainable (even if our fake celebrity culture assures us it is), but is also human life at its most boring.
He sent me a thankless smile and muttered, “I still want to reduce the podge.”
My body has its downsides, too, so he needn’t feel singled out (even if his belly troubles are now being broadcast to hundreds of website readers). After a minor foot operation and two months of elevating my leg on cushions, my bottom is so stiff I worry it’ll go flat like a pancake. I shift about desperate to discover more comfortable positions without joy. To be restricted in this way is to ache and burn in one place and suffer numbness and tingling in another. As a former dancer and breathless 12k runner, stationary life only works for me in the sense that I’m a writer and cat lover. The cats, incidentally, were completely freaked out by my static nature at first, but now they sleep on my lap or across my feet, blinking their approval of my obvious love of ‘comfort’, trying to pilfer the ham on my sandwiches and regularly verifying my authenticity by sniffing my head. I love the way cats do that, the head-sniff quality check.
Sitting on bed for weeks on end (if you’ll pardon the unfortunate image) has its upsides, though. A friend asked me the easiest way to remember the number of days in each month. Of course I reeled off the old song, “Thirty days hath September…”, but to double-check I had it exactly right, I did a quick internet search and found something fascinating: an older version of the calendar-based ditty, written at the bottom of a page listing all saints’ days in some ancient Latin manuscript (and discovered in only 2011 by eagle-eyed Welsh author, Roger Bryan, a true guru). However, this old version didn’t trip quite so easily off the tongue as the rhyme my mother taught me when I was still in knee-lengthers:
Thirti dayes hath Novembir
April June and Septembir.
Of xxviii is but oon
And alle the remenaunt xxx and j
Lyricists weren’t exactly Eminem back in 1425. Not that I’m big into Eminem.
And just so you know, I sent my friend the weirder version of the rhyme and he nicknamed me the ‘bedridden internet guru’, which is just about halfway to flattery, hence the title of this post.