- Part 2
Due to popular demand, I have decided to write more
about Sasha and Kevin. This part of the story is a sort of prequel
to the first part, which can be found in July’s issue of Large In
Charge. More may be forthcoming in future issues.
Sasha sighed and rested her chin on her folded arm. It
was late at night and she was sleepless, again. Sleepless and
feeling a bit lonely, a bit restless. And a bit depressed. There was
only so many times a night you could check your e-mail, though, and
only so many times that you could play card games online. No one
seemed to be around to chat with.
It was representative of the rest of her life, though. No one
was ever around. She had friends, of course, but they were only
interested in her as a part of the group. As an individual, there
was nothing special about her, nothing that made them choose her
company over anyone else’s. Things were great as long as she did
what they wanted to do and didn’t expect them to be interested in
the things that she was interested in.
That wasn’t fair to them, really. She knew that.
They did like her, and accept her, and they included her in
everything they did. It wasn’t fair to expect them to not have any
other lives. It was just hard because she, herself, didn’t seem to
have any other life. She just wanted to be special to someone,
important in a way that she alone could be important.
She looked around her bedroom. What a mess. She really
should just get out of bed and clean. But that would take energy,
and all of Sasha’s energy was engaged in being depressed. There was
none left to do the things that normal people did, like cleaning her
house or fixing up her yard or doing much else that was useful. She
managed to go to work when she needed to, but that was about it.
It wasn’t that she felt like she was lacking friends,
really. She knew who she could count on, and there were a lot of
people on that list. It was just that she wanted someone there with
her, in her bed, someone to hug her and tell her everything would be
okay. No, not even that, really. Someone that she could hug, they
wouldn’t even have to hug her back. Sasha just wanted someone to
love, and that alone would be enough to make her happy. But, of
course, that wasn’t possible. She wasn’t thin enough, or beautiful
enough, or anything enough, to be allowed to love anyone. At
thought, she sighed sadly and buried her face. How pathetic. Other
people might not be able to find anyone to love them, but she
couldn’t even find anyone who would let her love them.
And then she did what she always did in her late night
fits of desperation. She went to Google and did a quick search of
BBW dating sites. Whenever she was feeling depressed and lonely, she
created a new profile on some site to see if she could find anyone
who was remotely interested in her. It was almost like a game to
her. She never had much luck, since she never paid for her
membership and couldn’t contact any of the men who seemed
interested, but just knowing that there were men out there who might
be interested in her seemed to help. And a few of the sites she used
had enough features with their free memberships that she could
actually communicate with some of the other users.
Usually, the only results were men from far away,
sometimes other countries, even, who claimed they would treat her
like a queen, if only they lived closer, or men who asked her for
money so they could come visit her, or who invited her to come and
visit them but said she would have to get a hotel room because they
lived with their mother/sister/girlfriend/wife. None of them ever
seemed interested in her other than as a sort of online one night
stand. They didn’t care what she did for a living or what she liked
to do for fun. All they cared about was whether she had a web cam or
not. And as far as she could tell, none of them ever had jobs or
even lives away from the Internet. All Sasha ever seemed to attract
She scrolled down the screen anyway, looking at each
dating site listed in the hopes that she would find something
better. One listing caught her eye: “Hipsters, a magazine for the
young and modern woman, is seeking a staff writer. Specifically,
qualifications include being a plus-sized woman who is interested in
writing about life as a large woman, with a positive spin. A sense
of humor is a plus.”
Sasha had no idea how her search, “BBW Dating” had come up with such
a listing, but she was intrigued. She had read Hipsters a few times
and enjoyed it as much as she enjoyed any other magazine like it.
The models were all size negative four, though, like in every other
publication, and the articles were aimed toward thin, successful
women who were sure of themselves and confident. The writers and
editors just seemed to take it for granted that their readers each
had an unerring fashion sense and dozens of dates lined up every
month. It surprised Sasha that they were looking for a plus-sized
writer, but it excited her, too.
She quickly clicked on the link and read the
information that came onto her screen. She immediately saw that the
heading read “BBW Wanted,” and farther down, in the list of topics
to be covered by the writer they hired, dating was listed. So that
was how she had come across it, anyway.
A sample article, another piece of writing, a head
shot, and a resume or list of credentials was all they needed. Sasha
slowly started to smile. Her tears, her sadness, her frustration,
were all forgotten. The more she thought about it, the more she
wanted to submit herself as a possible writer. She was certainly a
plus-sized woman, and writing was her life. It was perfect. She
bristled a little at the idea that a sense of humor was required,
since it seemed like all fat women were expected to be funny, but
she pushed her irritation away. Most likely, they just wanted
someone funny who their readers could relate to. And Sasha was
becoming more and more sure that she would be that someone. She set
to work, fingers flying madly over her keyboard.
She had never written anything like this before. Or
rather, she had written it, but never for anyone else to see.
Obviously, everyone knew that she was fat, but Sasha always felt
like proper protocol was to pretend that she, herself, wasn’t aware
that she was any different from anyone else. So, of course, that
meant keeping any writing she did on the topic to herself. It felt
good to have someone to share it with.
She wrote and wrote, easily exceeding the minimum word
count listed. By the time she finished writing about the day, way
back in middle school, when she had first come to the realization
that she was fat. A bit of an exaggeration, of course, but it made a
good story, she was sure. And then she searched her writing for
something else appropriate to send in, and found the perfect piece,
something she had written after one of her failed Internet romances.
She threw together a writing resume quickly; that was easy, since
she hadn’t done much writing she could list. Before she could change
her mind, Sasha copied it all into an e-mail and sent it to the
editor of Hipster. As she did, she envisioned her first article in
print, on the pages of Hipster, complete with her own tagline:
Finally, a Hipster with REAL hips!
Calmer now, and more content as well, Sasha shut down
her computer and set it on the table next to her bed. She pulled the
blankets up around her shoulders, settled her head into her pillows,
and waited for sleep to wash over her. For once, she was not crying
as she drifted off to sleep. Instead, she was hoping with all of her
heart that she could be a published author at last. Writing was the
one thing that she was completely unafraid to love, because she was
confident that her ability to write would never betray her. And to
have a venue in which to put forth her real self, to explain the ups
and downs of fat life to everyone who had ever misunderstood her? A
dream come true.
Slowly, Sasha turned off the swirling thoughts and the
excitement and let herself move slowly toward sleep. After all, her
dreams were waiting.
In the morning, Sasha forced herself shower and get
ready for work without taking time to check her e-mail. She knew
there was no way she would have a response from the magazine yet,
anyway, since it was only seven in the morning, and she had not even
sent her submission until almost two a.m. She was a little groggy
from lack of sleep, but the excitement left over from the night
before was enough to propel her through the day. The fact that she
was subbing for a Spanish teacher who had a prep hour right before
lunch helped, too. That would give her an almost two hour lunch
period, enough time to run home and check her e-mail then, and even
enough time to doze off for ten or twenty minutes before she had to
return for the afternoon. That kind of freedom was one of the
reasons she liked being a substitute teacher.
And at lunch time, when she went home, Sasha held her
breath while she waited for her e-mail inbox to load. It seemed to
take forever, but when it finally finished, she was rewarded
immediately. There was a message from the editor of Hipster. They
had enjoyed reading her submission, it said, and they notify her
within the next week whether she would be included in the final
stage of their decision. Three writers would have their sample
columns and bios in an issue of the magazine, and the readers would
vote for their favorite. She leapt from her chair and raced around
the room, ignoring the dirty laundry and books and papers she was
stepping on. They had enjoyed her writing! Maybe that was just a
standard response, but still—Sasha had a good feeling about it.
Back at school, she could hardly concentrate. As she
gave her fourth hour class instructions for their assignment, her
voice faltered and she kept forgetting what she was trying to say.
Anticipation and excitement were flowing through her veins and it
was nearly impossible to function.
“What’s wrong with you today, Ms. L? You’re all bumbled
up,” said one of the girls in the class.
“Sorry, guys. I guess I’m just a little distracted.”
Sasha paused, unsure whether she should say more or not. But this
was a class she had taught in many times, and the kids all knew her.
Why not share her excitement? “I just entered a contest in a
magazine that’s looking for a staff writer, and they said they’d let
me know by next week whether I have a shot at it or not,” she told
them, her face flushed with hope and excitement.
“Really? That’s so cool!” someone said. There was a
rumble of agreement throughout the class, mixed with congratulations
and applause from a couple of the kids. And then someone else spoke
“What magazine is it?”
“Oh, cool, I read that,” another student said, and a few others
nodded. “What would you be writing?”
And that was when Sasha panicked. She had no idea how
to answer. Should she tell them it was a column about being fat? She
couldn’t very well lie to them, could she? But if she were to tell
them about the column, then she would be admitting that she was fat.
Not that they didn’t know, couldn’t see from looking at her, but it
might make for an uncomfortable conversation. It wasn’t the kind of
thing people talked about. It was the kind of thing that people
ignored, unless, of course, they were calling you names or
commenting on your general disgustingness. Fatness was never brought
up in casual conversation, though, and it should never be insinuated
that it could be anything less than a sin to be fat.
“Ms. L. Ms. L.! You spaced out on us again. What would you be
writing, I said”
Sasha breathed deeply and prepared herself for their
astonishment, their ridicule, the chaos that she was sure would
break out when she told them the truth.
“It’s—uh, it’s a column talking about what it’s like to
be fa- um, plus-sized.” Oh, God, she had almost said the f-word, the
word that made people more flustered and uncomfortable than even the
real f-word. She listened to the silence and waited for the
response, her teeth clenched. And then, finally, one girl spoke.
“That rocks! In all the magazines, they have all those stupid skinny
models that make everybody in the world look fat. It’s so cool that
they’re gonna have something for, like, real people.”
Sasha steadied herself and looked around the classroom
in surprise. Other students were nodding their heads. The weren’t
going to make fun of her, either for writing for about being fat or
for actually being fat! They were accepting her! The room spun
around her and she had to sit down. She couldn’t find any words to
say. Ever since she had started substitute teaching, Sasha had been
known as “the fat sub.” Also as “that sub who does crosswords all
the time,” but mostly just as the fat one. She had never been called
that to her face, of course, but she heard kids talking in the
hallways. And she had always assumed that when they called her the
fat sub, they were making fun of her.
It had never occurred to her before that maybe they
were just using the word fat as a descriptor, the same way they
would call someone blonde, or tall, or funky-looking. In that
moment, she realized that it was she, herself, who read ugliness
into the word fat. Sure, there were plenty of people in the world
who were all too willing to criticize fat people, and lots who
seemed to derive some kind of pleasure from humiliating them,
especially among high school students. Sasha had learned that from
her own high school experience, and had never quite gotten over it.
But when it came right down to it, fat was just a word. And not
necessarily a bad one.
Sasha gathered her thoughts together and stood up. When
she had slipped into her chair, the class had broken into quiet
chatter. She had not yet finished her explanation of their
assignment, so they had nothing to work on, but they had somehow
known that they had to let her get herself together. She marveled at
their intuition, and their kindness. It wasn’t what one would expect
out of the same kids that most adults complained endlessly about.
Sasha vowed that she would never again sit idly by while someone
talked about the rudeness and crassness of today’s youth. After
today, she would defend these kids to the very end.
“Thanks for the encouragement, guys. And now, I really
hate to do this to ya, but we need to get started on the assignment.
Señora isn’t going to like it if she gets back tomorrow and finds
out you didn’t get anything done.” She finished giving the class
instructions and they settled quickly into working. Sasha watched
them as they did, gazing absentmindedly out over the room full of
student-filled desks and scribbling pencils.
A few weeks later, Sasha found herself sitting at her kitchen table,
staring intently at a rack of Scrabble tiles. Her friend Debbi was
sitting across from her, humming loudly as she paged through the
Scrabble dictionary. The humming made Sasha want to throw something.
She had to stop it. Talking, she figured, was the most polite way to
do so. Better than whacking Debbi over the head with the Scrabble
“Hey, Deb? ‘Member when I was telling you about that magazine thing
“Yep,” the other woman responded, not really paying attention. She
was zeroing in on a play, Sasha could see, from the way she would
rearrange her letters, then glance back at the dictionary and then
rearrange them again. At least she had stopped humming, though.
“They haven’t let me know anything yet. You read what I submitted.
What did you think?”
Debbi placed her letters on the board and looked up at Sasha, paying
attention for real now.
“It was good. I’m sure they liked it.”
“You think so? So you think it was a good idea to try?”
“Hell, yeah. No reason not to. I mean, of course they liked it, but
even if they didn’t, what would be the worst thing that could
“The worst that could happen is that they will write back and say it
wasn’t what they were looking for, or even just not respond at all.
Doesn’t sound like much, but it’ll kill me. You know I don’t take
“How do you know that? You never do anything that makes you risk
rejection, and so you never even get rejected. You have no idea at
all how you would handle it.”
“I do, too. I do all kinds of things to risk rejection.”
“Well, I’m a substitute teacher. Everyone knows kids hate subs.
That’s risking rejection.”
“Kids hate everything, so that doesn’t count. It isn’t personal
“Okay, whatever. I write stuff all the time and bring it to my
writer’s group. That’s risking rejection for sure. We all read what
we wrote and then we just outright ask for criticism. If that isn’t
risking rejection, I don’t know what is.”
“Yeah, but you’re a good writer. You already know that. You don’t do
anything to risk rejection for real, where you don’t have any idea
what the outcome will be. You’re a scaredy-cat.”
“If you say so.”
“I do say so. They’ll love it, and by tomorrow, you’ll have an
e-mail telling you so. Now take your damn turn. I have a good play
sitting here, and I wanna get around to using it.”
Sasha sighed and leaned back in her chair. Eight days, now, and
still nothing from Hipster. She was glad when an instant messaging
window popped up. A little conversation would be just the thing to
let her forget about it for a while.
The message was from someone she had never chatted with before, and
all it said was, “hay how ru.”
“Not too bad,” she answered. Great, another one who can’t type or
spell right. Story of her life. She figured that she might just as
well stop talking to him already. She needed a pick-me-up, though,
something to reassure her that she was an acceptable human being,
and somehow she always felt like karma might get her if she started
turning down the few chances she had with men. It wasn’t like it was
every day that a guy seemed interested in her. There had never been
anyone she had ever met in person who had been interested, and even
looking online where there were millions of men, she only came
across one every month or two. So, she decided to give him the
benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was different from the others.
“Where are you from,” she asked him.
“callifornai. saw ur pc in bbwdating. com.”
God, he didn’t even use capital letters.
“You saw my personal computer on bbwdating.com? I didn’t even know
my computer was looking for a love interest.” May as well see right
now if he could comprehend humor.
“wht? not understand”
“Do you even speak English?”
“wht size bra u ware?
“What? What makes you think I would answer that question?”
“u hav webcm?”
“Yes, I have a web cam.” Oh, what had she said that for? Now he was
going to want her to turn it on, and she would, because she always
did, because she liked having someone interested in her, someone who
wanted to see her naked, someone who wanted her. She always felt
horrible and used afterwards, but it never stopped her. It was
almost like she was addicted to cyber sex.
“turn on!” he ordered her.
“I would rather not.”
And she did. Mentally berating herself the entire time, she took her
web cam out and plugged it into her computer. She invited him to
“good good” he said in response. “take shirt off”
“Oh, you don’t want to see that.”
“take pants off”
It was almost like they were having two totally separate
conversations. It was obvious that Sasha wasn’t going to get
anything out of this relationship, that there wouldn’t even be a
relationship to get anything out of. Still, she obeyed him. She
stood up and slipped off her shirt and then unbuttoned her pants.
When she was standing there in her bra and panties, she looked back
at the screen to see if he had said anything else.
“wow u fat”
Sasha didn’t know how to respond to that. Her first instinct was to
cry, but with the web cam still on, that wasn’t an option. Still,
tears burned her eyes and fought to escape. Damn it, she had wanted
this to go well, to make up for her Hipster disappointment. Because,
the more she thought about it now, the more she was sure that there
was no reason whatsoever for them to hire her. But maybe he didn’t
mean anything bad by it. He had, after all, found her on a BBW
dating site. She turned her back to the web cam and wiggled around a
little bit. She used the opportunity to quickly wipe the tears from
her eyes and rearrange her face into a smile before she turned
around to see if he had written anything else.
He had: “ha ha u 2 fat.”
Sasha reached out and turned her web cam off. The tears were back.
She wished harder than she had ever wished anything that she had
someone real in her life, someone who loved her, so she wouldn’t
have to keep doing things like that. It was always either someone
who got all weird like this guy had or someone who was just weird to
start with. She had never met anyone she could meet in real life, or
anyone she even wanted to meet in real life for that matter. She
just couldn’t stop, though. There was always some little part of her
that hoped, each time, that it would be someone normal for once.
Other than that little part inside of her, though, she had given up
hope. She had accepted that every man in the world who could ever be
interested in her was a freak. Anyone with any degree of
intelligence whatsoever was smart enough to bypass her for a
beautiful, thin woman with a glamorous job and a gorgeous house. And
not that physical attractiveness was important to her at all,
really, but she had also accepted that she would never have an
attractive man interested in her. After all, if a man was
attractive, he could obviously attract someone better than Sasha.
She knew that she was pretty much the bottom of the barrel as far as
One up side to all the rejection and depression and tears, though,
was that they helped her write. She was very good at channeling her
pain into beautiful words. And so she logged out of her instant
messaging program to avoid any more stupid men and started writing.
Too bad Hipster hadn’t chosen her. It would have made a good
Just as she was starting to shut her computer down, a window popped
up to inform Sasha that she had received a new message. And when she
clicked on the link, she saw that it was from Hipster. She almost
decided to ignore it, to deal with it later. She had been through
too much already, and didn’t feel as though she could take any more
disappointment or depression. On the other hand, she couldn’t
possibly feel much worse, and since she was already crying, it might
be a good time to just get it over with. She opened the e-mail and
closed her eyes tightly.
She gave the e-mail time to open and then opened her eyes, just a
little, so that they were squinched almost closed and everything she
saw was blurry. The blurriness was, she supposed, some kind of a
barrier between her and rejection, although she couldn’t logically
see how it could help. Still, she couldn’t make herself open her
eyes any wider. Slowly, she read the subject line and then lowered
her eyes. The first word, almost unreadable through her squinty
eyes, was a long one. It almost looked like it started with a “C”
and ended with an exclamation point. She knew that was impossible,
though. If there was any reason for the letter to start with the
word “congratulations,” she would have heard from them much earlier.
She couldn’t dare to hope that the letter contained good news.
Now, she needed to find out. The desire to know exactly what the
letter said burned within her, and still she couldn’t quite make
herself read it. Not here, not when she was all alone and would have
to sit alone all night, crying miserably, if it wasn’t good. Not
with no one to comfort her.
But she had to. There wouldn’t ever be anyone to comfort her, no one
she could share her heartbreak with. She was the happy one, the one
who comforted other people, and had no right to expect the same in
return. Sasha had to be strong and independent. She opened her eyes
wide, drew in a deep breath, and read the e-mail.
It did say congratulations! She had been selected as one of the
three finalists, and her writing would appear in the next issue for
the readers to vote on it. She threw back her head and laughed in
relief. And then another wave of sadness washed over her. Because
there wasn’t anyone to share her good news with, either. Not at two
in the morning. Her friends would be happy for her, sure, but they
wouldn’t really care all that much, wouldn’t be proud of her,
wouldn’t give her the reinforcement she craved. None of them thought
that writing was all that important, and they just wouldn’t
understand what a victory it was for her. Especially not at this
time of the night. All she would do if she called any of her friends
was get people pissed off at her. It wasn’t fair. She felt like she
deserved to have the kind of friends she could call any time, day or
night, when she needed someone to cry to or celebrate with. After
all, she would cry or celebrate with them, if the situation was
reversed. But, like always, she realized that some people just
couldn’t get everything they wanted out of life and just had to
settle for what they had. And Sasha was one of those people. It
wasn’t a happy prospect, but it was the way the world worked.
She crawled into bed and waited for sleep to come. It didn’t come
easy, because every time she felt herself drifting off, she was
reawakened alternately by a thrill of excitement rushing through her
or a wave of loneliness washing over her.
For once in her life, Sasha had underestimated her friends rather
than expecting what they would not give. As soon as the issue of
Hipster came out that had her article in it, they all flocked to
various stores and bought multiple copies. Debbie bought five copies
and her fourteen-year-old daughter passed them around her classes,
excitedly telling everyone that she knew Sasha. Sasha didn’t expect
anyone else to buy one, but she was surprised to find that her best
friend Jim’s sister had bought a not only a copy for herself, but
one for Jim, as well. And she was even more surprised to find out
that Jim, the perfect picture of masculinity and full of ridicule
for women’s magazines, had already bought one of his own. Her friend
Fender had bought one, too.
Sasha basked in the attention she was receiving. Of course, she
couldn’t tell them all how grateful she was that they were allowing
her her moment in the spotlight. Instead, she teased Fender and Jim
about buying the magazine, about how it would soon be quite obvious
to everyone in town that they were Hipster-loving gay lovers. Sasha
went days without crying herself to sleep.
Over the next few weeks, Sasha started receiving fan mail. The
magazine editors had posted her e-mail address with her article and
encouraged their readers to write to all three candidates as they
decided who to vote for. Sasha made sure to take time to respond to
every letter, not because she was trying to win votes, but because
she was completely shocked to receive each and every one and felt
like she owed it to her supporters to reach out to them. One day, it
occurred to her that if she was thin and beautiful, the way she had
always wished she could be, none of it would have happened. Her fat
was finally an asset to her. The f-word was starting to lose some of
And then, finally, one letter came that was different from all the
rest. For one thing, this one was from a man. And it wasn’t from a
gay man, either. It was from a man who was a self-proclaimed FA,
whatever that was, and he had come across a news story about
Hipster’s search for a plus-sized writer, and so he had read the
issue with the candidates’ articles in it. Hers had touched
something in him, had intrigued him, and he felt like he needed to
get to know her.
When Sasha read his letter, she was immediately filled with the
feeling that something exciting was about to happen. It was the same
goose-bumped, shivery feeling that little kids get when they wake up
on Christmas morning. This was obviously an intelligent man, or more
intelligent than any of the others she had met online, anyway,
because he had actually read something. And his e-mail was free of
grammatical and spelling errors. And he had gone out and bought a
copy of the magazine, so he obviously had some money, anyway. This
one might be a normal guy!
She responded right away, thanking him for the compliments and
telling him that she would love to get to know him better. And in
less than fifteen minutes, he had answered her.
Thanks for getting back to me so soon! I don’t know what it is about
your writing that attracted me, really, but the feeling is
undeniable. Like I said, I have always been an FA (which, in answer
to your question, means fat admirer), but it is more than that. Your
writing seems to come from a very unique perspective. A lot of
bigger women seem to be unhappy with themselves, but in your writing
it seems like maybe you not only accept, but also appreciate,
This might come across as a little creepy, to be honest, because I
feel an attraction for you that I just can’t ignore. The picture of
you that they put in the magazine is beautiful, but it is so much
more than that. The person you put forth in your article is a person
I want to get to know on a much deeper level. The creepy part is
that I am a little older than you are. Well, a lot, really. This
isn’t a common thing for me, I usually go for older women, but I
just can’t seem to help myself.
So, if you are creeped out and never want to hear from me again, I
respect that. Let me know. I hope not, though. If not, can I call
Sasha got the shivers as she read the letter. And she froze when she
read his final question. He wanted to call her. That was never a
good thing. In writing, she was eloquent and sure of herself and
confident, because she had the ability to craft her words carefully
and be exactly the person she wanted to be. On the phone, things
were much more immediate. She had to respond right away, couldn’t
write her response and then delete it and change it and make herself
sound intelligent and confident. She always froze on the phone, was
reduced from words to goofy-sounding giggles. And this guy seemed
genuinely intelligent and kind, just the kind of guy she had always
hoped to meet. She didn’t want to blow this one.
But if she said he couldn’t call her, he might just stop
communicating with her altogether. Maybe she could do it. Maybe it
would be okay.
She hit reply and typed her phone number into the subject line of
the message. She warned him that she might be shy and might not be
able to talk at all, might just laugh and sigh and sound dumb, but
if he wanted to call her anyway, he was welcome to. Minutes after
she hit the send button, her phone rang.
A soothing, resonating voice announced, “Sasha? This is Kevin.”
And that was the moment in which Sasha felt that she really started