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Lycra Lament

(If this story seems familiar your memory is very good for someone your age)

It's not that Lycra is such a bad idea. Light, sleek, elastic - it probably is the closest thing we have to skiing naked. And that's certainly a dream I've always had.

So, when the "winter preview" catalogs started filling my post office box one hot day in August I gave in to the lycra logic and ordered up a set - shimmering metallic blue, with a spiraling crimson stripe down one leg. I pulled them on slowly, knowing my life was about to change. As the waistband snapped into place, I could actually feel each rippling leg muscle testing the strength of the fabric and I couldn't have been happier as I diagonal-strided my way from the bedroom toward the kitchen.

Then I passed the tall mirror at the end of the hall.

What I saw was not the catalog picture. It was two blue sausages supporting a posterior large enough to eclipse the sun – a vision so far removed from what I knew I really looked like that I began to wonder how an alien life form got into my house.
"Who – are – you?" I asked the bulging reflection. "What – do – you – want – with – me?"

By morning (it was not a good night) the colorful body suit was on it's way back and I was checking on the case price for rice cakes.

Suddenly it dawned on me. My life was being rudely disrupted just because some stranger in sportswear-land decided that stretch pajamas are required garb for sliding around on snow? (I should probably mention that my doctor also tried to rudely disrupt my built-for-comfort life by gently explaining how I could drop dead at any moment, but he didn't have the same je ne sais quoi as the lycra moment).

I looked up from and imagined the birth of the whole movement to demoralize the big-boned population. It was a familiar gang – the awkward skinny kids from high school who ate from the vending machines like Frito vampires and never gained an ounce. They were huddled together in a room that still looked like high school, poring over anatomical diagrams of where fat deposits typically form then adding a tuck or snip to their latest design to make each of those areas stand out like overfilled water balloons. Cries of "eeuuuwww" and "yuckers" would break through the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack each time an image of a banana roll or chub rub surfaced.

In my mind-play I worked around to feeling sorry for the poor souls, but in real life these annoying waifs were my new nemesis (the best enemies to have are the ones that don't actually exist).

I even found fuel for my conspiracy fire by noticing a clever move by the  form-fit clothing creators. Probably sensing the rising resistance of those who have suffered lycra shock, they quietly "transitioned" to new names for the roll-hugging fabric like Actitherm and Powerstretch. I'm sure they thought those with lipid-dulled brains wouldn't see through the ruse and, once more, descend into humiliation by buying the rebranded product. But we of the thick thighs community have news for you . . .

A hunger pang ended my imaginary journey and I was back to real life . . . in a valley filled with fitness icons whose high-tensile quadriceps actually DO test the strength of the fabric encasing them. It was painfully clear that Actitherm has a lot of friends in our healthy-living enclave – I just wasn't one of them.

So now my choice was to either accept defeat and descend into the realm of good fitness or start a band called the MuffinTops. As I pondered the dilemma the angel and devil on my shoulders made their closing arguments.

"Think of the energy you'll have."
"You have to love yourself as you are."
"You could finally find clothes that fit."
"Just get a baggy suit for the gigs."
"You could see Maple Pass again."
"You'd probably have to buy a new guitar . . ."

New guitar? Really?
You mean like a '63 Strat or a G&L Nighthawk hardtail custom?

As the miniature angel harrumphed in disgust and floated away, my nemesis crew came back into view and I gave them my iciest stare. "It's who I am, you chip-chomping scarecrows," I shouted in my mind. "I choose me!"

To show even more who's the boss in this life of mine I'm now shopping for suspender-supported wool pants and a vent back Filson coat to ski in. I might even go for oilskin gaiters too. That's right lycra meanies, I KNOW how to push back.

But I think I'll still pick up the case of rice cakes.
I mean, they are SUCH a good deal.


read more of Curtis' astute observations, in the archive