Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The United States of Fat

I tell Clara that I am going to go to one of the public pools to wash off the summer grime. I tell her the pool I had planned on going to and she furrows her brow and her top lip lifts to one side in an unknown source of disgust. She redirects my route immediately to go to the local University campus and to go to their pool. It costs only about 5 Euro but "worth it". I head there after work (last Friday with Charlotte). We go into the separate changing rooms that end up leading out to the pool deck, and nothing short of an oasis awaited us. We walk out to diving boards over a deep end, an Olympic size pool and the entire complex surrounded by a grassy border. That alone would have sufficed for a relaxing evening by the pool, but that is had it not been for the people in attendance.

I am happy in my skin and feel that, although not super fit and chiseled, I have been working out here at least three times a week. However, and that is a big however, I would say that 95% of the men and women in attendance (~200) had FAR better corporal structures than I. And, on top of that, as if the spectacle of summer envy was not enough, the bathing suits that the Spaniards get away with further drove the needle into my eye. It was seriously censory overload as man and woman came out of the garden of Eden and into the University pool at Moncloa. I thought back to the United States and cringed at having to compare the anomaly that I was witnessing to a US public pool, or even a country club pool for that matter.

There should be some government intervention into the culture of the US. A calorie cap or a parole type ankle band that everyone has to wear monitoring intake. How is it possible that a random amalgamation of the Spanish public could exude such physical turpitude. I have noticed that my stomach and appetite has become a lot smaller in these few weeks, I cannot gorge my face nor feel the need to. BECAUSE IT IS NOT IS WHAT IS AVAILABLE. I remember going to a restaurant in Barcelona and ordering, and the waitress stopped me and said, "that is going to be too much for you". That would never happen as four teenagers pull up to a McDonald's drive-thru window after a night of partying and order the entire dollar menu, two of each. Could you imagine? Middle America, farmhand after a day on the tractor, rolls his cinnamon buns out of the Cracker Barrell just in time to hit McDonald's breakfast, hits the drive thru window and the employee tells him that he "is ordering too much"!!?? That person would get fired.

And it is not like food is not important to these people, in fact it's the opposite. They prize the time spent around food. Someone eating something to go or on the way will get a look or two. It just so happens that this is coupled with the culture of no one being in a rush. There is no need for fast food because the person waiting for you on the other side of the meal, almost expects you to be a little late. Clara told me that if you are early to a meeting, it is considered rude. Like the fact that you are pressing in on their time, is rude. HOW FANTASTIC IS THAT? I then told her how I showed up 30 minutes early on my first day. Oops!

In coming back to the States, there are certain things I always try to incorporate from abroad. And NOT shoving my face on a super sized something is going to be one of them.

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