The Adventures of Phatgurl
by Emily Suzanne
Adventures Of Phatgurl
is a serial collection of stories about the adventures of Jany, a
plus-sized young woman who, in desperation, places an ad on a
personals website. As she embarks on her dates, she meets many
different kinds of men who expect many different things from her.
Some of her adventures are wildly amusing and others are more
serious and even sad.
If you have any
ideas or experiences, funny or otherwise, that you would like to see
depicted in a future Phatgurl story, please e-mail me at
I will do my very best to incorporate all reader ideas into future
SWSSBBW seeks SM willing to ask her out. Need not buy gifts,
remember dates, put toilet seat down. Video game fanatics and men
who require guys’ nights out okay. Willing to watch action movies
and avoid “the talk.” Reply to:
Candidate 3: The Ankle Breaker
Subject: December 20
Hello. I saw your advertisement on
http://www.personalz.com and I
thought I would write to you. I am going to a Christmas party on
the twentieth of this month that is a fundraiser for the Raising
Russia Association, which supports Russian orphans. I am very
interested in Russia, as I spent several months there two years ago
as a part of my foreign relations degree program. The founder of
the Raising Russia Association was Alphonse Byers, back in 1986, and
the current president is Martha Gayano. The fundraising director is
Seamus McInnis. The event is being held on December 20 and the
cocktail hour starts at 7 p.m., but I would like to be there at 6:30
when the doors open. The dinner and program start at 8 p.m. and the
silent auction is over at 10 p.m. when the band starts playing, and
they play until 2 a.m., but I probably won’t want to stay that late,
maybe only until midnight. I like to get to bed at a decent hour.
The name of the band is the Cue Sticks and they have been playing
acoustic folk and world music together since the fall of 1979. The
people in the organization are casual, but the event is formal, so
you would need to dress up. The tickets cost $45 in advance or $50
at the door, but your ticket and mine are already taken care of
because my parents donated to Raising Russia a few months back and
got free tickets, which they gave to me. Don’t worry about the
value of the ticket. I will not expect you to owe me anything.
Thank you very much and good night. Paul Daniels.
You really like to go into detail, don’t you? I would love to go to
the fundraiser with you. Thanks for the invitation- I’m excited
about it! Do you think we should meet each other beforehand, so it
isn’t so awkward? It seems like this is a pretty serious event.
You could meet me after work some night and we could grab coffee and
talk for a while or something, maybe. There’s a great coffee shop
right down the street from the art gallery I work at. Sound good?
Subject: Re: Wow!
Yes, we could get together. That might be a good idea. I could
bring the photographs I took while I was in Russia and show them to
you. They are highly interesting. I think that you would enjoy
them. I will check with my dad to see if it is a good idea, but I
think that maybe I will drive my car. Can you tell me the address?
I will see you there. My pictures of Russia are of many historical
sites and many people of various backgrounds and I think you will
find them fascinating. I will talk to my dad about driving downtown
and will let you know as soon as you tell me the address of the art
gallery where you work if I will be able to drive down there. It is
not very cost effective to drive into the city sometimes and the
traffic is heavy and difficult to maneuver in, but it is a
possibility. My car is a 2004 Buick LeSabre that is beige in
color. You don’t have to worry because it is very safe and reliable
and I am a very careful driver. If I wasn’t, my dad wouldn’t let me
drive at all. Thank you very much and I hope to hear from you soon.
Subject: Thursday Night
Thursday night works for me, that is if it works for you. Love to
see your pictures. We’ll talk about the Christmas party then, too.
The address of the art gallery where I work, Mala Ning’s Dynasty, is
4589 East 114th Street. Let me know if Thursday is okay,
and if it is, I will see you then, around quarter after five if
Thursday lasted forever. Jany stuttered as she talked
to customers, almost knocked one of the paintings off the wall, and
lost the receipt for a shipment of prints that came in. All she
could think about was her date, if you could call it that, with
Paul. Finally, a guy who seemed intelligent and like he didn’t have
any ulterior motives. Luckily, business was slow. Jany closed the
gallery a few minutes early so she could change clothes and touch up
her hair and makeup. When she emerged, a man was walking up to the
door. Probably Paul, she decided. He looked like a Paul, although
she couldn’t have explained why.
She was about halfway to the door when a terrifying
thought struck her. In their e-mails, they had never once spoken
about their appearances. Jany had never thought to ask Paul what he
looked like, mainly because she really didn’t care. It was the
first thing most guys asked her, though. And Paul had never
mentioned it. Was it because he didn’t care, or had he just assumed
she must be thin and at least average looking? She should have
warned him. It was too late to do anything now, though. She opened
the door in a state of near panic.
“Hello,” the man said. “My name is Paul. Is Jany
Jany glanced back over her shoulder before she spoke.
There was no way to escape.
“I—I’m Jany.” She spoke softly and quickly, bracing
herself for his response.
Things went better than she expected. Much better. He
stretched his hand out toward her.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m parked in half hour parking.
Are you ready to go?”
“Uh, sure.” Jany swung her purse over one shoulder and
let the locked door swing shut behind her. “We don’t really need to
drive. The coffee shop is just on the next block.”
“But I need to move my car. I only paid for a half
“You could—do you just want to pay for more time?”
“No. I paid for a half hour. I better move my car.”
Paul spoke firmly.
“Oh. Okay.” There was something a little awkward, a
little different, about Paul, but she couldn’t put her finger on
what it was, exactly.
Once they were in Paul’s car, he started the engine and
put the car in drive, his foot planted solidly on the brake pedal.
He carefully studied each mirror in turn. He twisted his head
around and peered intently out the back window. Jany looked at Paul
inquisitively. At this rate, it was going to take him forever to
pull out into the street.
“Um, hey, uh, Jany? Can you see?” he asked finally.
“Is there anyone coming up behind me?”
“No, I don’t think so. Ease out slowly, though, just in
case.” Jany was beginning to see why he’d had to ask his dad if he
should bring the car downtown.
Paul eased out at a snail’s pace and managed to move a
foot or so before he stomped on the brake. Jany’s body was held
tightly in place by the seatbelt but her head snapped forward.
“Oh!” Paul exclaimed. “I thought the car behind me was
moving. Sorry. Are you all right?”
Jany looked behind them. The car that was parked
there—yes, parked—was most definitely empty.
“I’m fine. You?” If they had just walked to the coffee
shop, they would have been half done already.
“Yeah, I’m all right. I don’t drive in the city very
often and I don’t want to get in an accident. My parents just
bought me this car.”
Finally, he drove slowly forward and they were out on
the street. As soon as they had taken their place in the lane, Paul
stopped the car. In the street. Just stopped.
“What—what are you doing?”
“How do I get there? I don’t know how to get there.”
“You drive one block up.”
He started driving. Very slowly. Jany could almost
hear the people in the cars behind them grumbling and swearing. She
was so preoccupied with not meeting the eyes of the drivers around
them that she didn’t realize Paul was running the red light at the
intersection until they were halfway through it.
“What—stop!” she yelled. Paul stomped on the brake once
more, but not until they were through the intersection. Jany
forced herself to speak more softly. She was almost angry with him,
except that she couldn’t quite be angry because the poor guy seemed
so clueless. “Everything okay, Paul?”
“You just—you ran a red light.”
“I did? Oh! I’m sorry. You told me to drive one block
“Uh, okay. Fair enough. I just thought—I thought you’d
be watching the light. Sorry.”
“It’s all right. I forgive you.”
“Yeah, okay.” He forgave her? Because he
didn’t know enough to stop at a red light? Any other girl would
have given up on him already. Normal girls didn’t date space cadets
like this. But there was something about him that she liked, too.
Something underneath all the awkwardness. So Jany knew she had to
stick it out. “Hey, there’s the place, right there.”
“Where?” Paul turned his head and looked out the
passenger side window. Jany braced herself as a car pulled out in
front of them,
Paul hit the brakes yet again. After the other car had
safely driven out of his way, he remained stopped. Jany tried to
“Why don’t you just—you should park here.”
Paul looked a little frazzled and it seemed dangerous
for him to be driving.
“Put your car in the spot that car just came out of.
The coffee shop is right back behind us.”
“I can’t parallel park.” He said it quietly and
steadily. Someone behind them honked a horn.
“Okay, just go up one more block, then. Watch the
light. There’s a parking garage there. I’ll pick up the tab for
Jany held her breath until Paul had pulled into the
parking garage. They got out of the car and walked back toward the
coffee shop—almost exactly the same distance as if he would have
stayed in front of the gallery.
Inside the coffee shop, they ordered drinks and settled
at a table. Jany made sure to lead the way so they didn’t end up at
a booth she wouldn’t fit into—always embarrassing.
“So,” Jany began, then paused. After all they had been
through in the past—had it only been ten minutes?—she wasn’t sure
exactly what to say. But the silence between them begged
interruption. “Um. Oh, hey, do you have those pictures you were
going to show me?”
“Oh, darn! Yes, I do, but I left them in my car. I’ll
be right back!” Paul stood up jerkily and nearly knocked over his
coffee as he turned and shuffle-ran out the door. Jany suspected
that he didn’t even notice the near catastrophe. He seemed like a
genius type, maybe, someone who knew about a lot of different things
but couldn’t remember to tie his shoelaces or put the milk back in
the fridge. Jany wrapped her hands around her coffee cup and looked
around the room.
The place was full of students hiding behind piles of books and men
and women who had stopped for a dose of caffeine on the way home
from work. Jany watched them all quietly until her perusal of the
room was interrupted by a beautiful man who caught her eye and
smiled as he passed by. Her heartbeat quickened.
Her first reaction was to reach up and straighten her hair, then she
brought her hands immediately back to the table when she realized
two things: the man’s smile most probably hadn’t been anything other
than a gesture of kindness, and she was here with another man.
But he had smiled at her! It wasn’t often that a man noticed her in
a positive way, even if it was just in friendship or goodwill. Jany
shivered and glanced at the clock on the wall. It didn’t seem like
much time had passed at all, but it was approaching fifteen minutes
since Paul had left to go to his car.
Impatiently, Jany drummed her fingers on the table as she waited for
him to return. Then, for no reason that she could explain, her
fingers stopped moving and she sat up straighter in her chair.
Threw her head back just a little, thrust out her chest. Tipped her
head to one side. A few seconds later, her reaction became clear,
although she still wasn’t sure how she had known what was coming.
The beautiful man walked into her field of vision. He went to the
pop machine again—could he really have finished his drink already,
or was he just looking for an excuse to walk past her? No, he
wouldn’t have any reason to walk past her. On the way back, though,
he once again looked in Jany’s direction, tipped his head to meet
her eye, smiled a broad and dimpled grin. Winked. He winked at
her! And then he was gone.
Paul shuffle-ran back into the coffee shop just in time to get the
full effect of Jany’s flushed and glowing face. He stopped abruptly
when he got to the table and stuttered out a series of broken
“Car locked. Keys. In ignition. Can’t. Get in. Can’t get in.
Don’t know. What—what—what do I do?”
“Wait a minute, slow down. You locked your keys in your car?”
Nothing like bringing her down from her momentary high.
“Yes. Yes. I locked my keys in my car. What do I do?”
Jany was still in bed Saturday morning when her phone rang. She
considered just letting it ring. Fridays were always amazingly busy
at work. It was on Fridays that men bought gifts for their wives
and businesses bought artwork for office renovations and single
women decided they needed something pretty to look at over long and
lonely weekends. And so Saturday mornings often found Jany with
barely enough energy to turn herself over in bed. And on this
particular Saturday, the drama of Thursday night was still weighing
on her. They had sat at the coffee shop for an hour and a half
waiting for Paul’s father to arrive with an extra key, and once he
was there he had insisted on buying Jany another drink to make up
for it, which had led Paul to insist on showing her his photographs,
photographs that were blurred and not of anything very exciting,
even though all Jany wanted to do was go home to bed. It had been
nearly eleven by the time she’d finally gotten home, and midnight by
the time she’d fallen into bed.
Finally, she managed to make her arm reach out and her hand grab the
phone. She could at least look at the caller ID and see if it was
anyone important. She didn’t recognize the number, at first,
although it looked vaguely familiar. Just as the call went to
voicemail, she remembered. Michael. It was Michael.
Michael of the gentle, resonating voice. Michael who thought she
was beautiful, intelligent, desirable. Michael from New Mexico, so
far away she’d probably never meet him and so busy he hardly ever
called. Frantically, she brought his number back up onto the caller
ID screen and hit the call button.
It was only seconds before his voice flowed smoothly through the
“Hey, Babe. Thought I missed you.”
“No, I’m here. I just—couldn’t get to the phone in time.”
“Did I wake you up?”
“No! No, I was up. Just—reading,” Jany lied.
“Ah, I see. Anything good?”
“Um, no. Not really. So how have you been?”
“Not bad. Busy. Any budding romances yet?”
“Ha! Yeah, right. Let’s see, so far there’s been the guy who
practically raped me and the guy who—wow, I don’t even know quite to
say about the second guy.” Jany lapsed into a hurried account of
her experiences Thursday night. “I don’t want to be mean. I don’t
have any right to, really. I mean, look at me. I’m probably worse
off than he is. But everything he does is so damn awkward it’s all
I can do to keep a straight face when I’m with him.” Michael
“Well, you’ve only had a couple of responses. You’ll find someone
eventually who makes for romance instead of high comedy. At least
you have something to tell your grandkids about.”
“Yeah, great stories. Wonderful.” She didn’t tell him that he
was her hope for romance, the object of her fantasies.
“Anyway, I just wanted to see how things were going. I have to get
going. Talk to you soon?”
“Yeah, I’ll let you know how things go at this Christmas party
thing. Should be interesting.”
“You do that. Bye, Sweet Thing.”
Jany hung up the phone. Talking to Michael made her happy, in a lot
of ways. But it made her just a little sad, too, knowing that she
had found someone who seemed so right for her, and who seemed to
really like her, and he was spending encouraging her to seek out
other men. She stretched out and closed her eyes for a minute
before she pulled herself out of bed. It was nice to relax. And no
matter what the circumstances of their relationship were, it had
been nice to be woken up by Michael’s voice.
One week later, at almost exactly the same time, Jany’s phone rang
again. This time, though, she was wide awake. On the morning of
her big date with Paul, there was no way she could sleep in. Her
nerves were on edge. The ringing phone, in fact, had just about
made her dump a bottle of red nail polish on the floor.
Again, she didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but this
time it was a local number.
“Hello?” she said hesitantly. No one ever called her.
“Hello, Jany. This is Paul. Paul Daniels. We were planning to go
to the Raising—”
“Paul, I know who you are. It’s okay.” Jany stifled a giggle. She
always seemed to have a hard time keeping a straight face when she
talked to him. It wasn’t that she was laughing at him, really, not
in a mean way. But the things he said and did seemed so odd.
“Oh. All right, then. I was just calling to make sure you were
still planning on attending.”
“Yeah. Yes, of course I am. Just doing my nails now, in fact.”
“Well, you didn’t need to do your nails. I don’t think they are
requiring things like that, just that you dress up.”
“Uh, yeah. I just—wanted to.”
“Okay. Well, I just wanted to make sure. And I wanted to make sure
you had my phone number in case you needed to contact me.” He
slowly and carefully gave her a phone number. She wrote down the
first few digits, then paused and waited for him to finish.
“I’m sorry. That’s not my phone number. That’s your phone
Jany pulled the phone away from her mouth and laughed as quietly as
she could. She didn’t bother writing down the number he recited.
She could just look on her caller ID. Her shoulders were shaking
from unreleased laughter, which rather prevented her from writing.
“Okay, Paul. Thank you,” she said, once he had finished.
“All right. Good bye, then.”
Jany was just about to hang up the phone when she heard
a voice saying her name in the distance. She returned the phone to
“Yes, it’s Paul. I was just going to tell you that I
can’t pick you up at your house because my dad doesn’t want me to
drive in the city.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, where is the fundraiser? I can take
the bus and meet you there.” It wasn’t hard to understand his
father’s concerns. Jany was only too happy to escape another ride
“Are you sure? Because you could also take the bus or a
cab to my house and then I could drive from my house to the
fundraiser with you and that would be fine. It’s near my house and
not in the city.”
“Well, where is it? We’ll see what’ll be easier.”
Paul gave Jany both his address and the address of the fundraiser.
She recognized the address where the event was being held; she’d
been to a wedding there over the summer.
“It’s all right. I’ll just take the bus to the hall. I went to a
wedding there once and the bus stops right nearby. That’s probably
easier that trying to get to your house.”
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want you to feel like it’s a bad date and
talk badly about me to your friends or anything. I know that girls
do that sometimes.”
“No, I wouldn’t speak badly of you. It’s fine.” Jany smiled as she
hung up the phone. He was so sweet and thoughtful and so just plain
weird, all at the same time.
She spent the rest of the day pampering herself. She wished she had
girlfriends to help her primp and offer her advice. That was how
most girls got through first dates. Jany pretty much kept to
herself, though. She mostly just talked to people online. And of
course there was Mala, but Mala was half loner and half socialite,
and Jany didn’t fit into either part of her life. It seemed like
everyone Jany’s age was busy being in a relationship or holding a
high power job or building a family. She had nothing to offer
anyone, and they had nothing to offer her, either, except for the
opportunity to observe, much more publicly than she wanted to,
everything she wished for and could not have.
Jany didn’t have much confidence to draw upon by the time she was on
the bus to the fundraiser. She couldn’t help worrying that she’d
tip over and fall off her heeled shoes, or that the buttons would
pull on the front of her dress and her fat would come bulging out.
She wrapped her coat more tightly around her as she walked from the
bus to the hall.
It didn’t take her long to find Paul once she made her way inside.
He was at the registration table asking the girl with the guest list
a million questions about the foundation and hanging on her every
word. She looked up when Jany approached with a look that could
possibly be described as panic, so Jany decided to rescue her.
“Hey, Paul. I made it. Let’s go get a drink.” Jany smiled at the
girl’s look of relief.
They wandered around after they had ordered, Paul talking with
friends and strangers alike. And talking a lot. Jany mostly just
smiled and listened, and nodded once in a while. Even if she had
been comfortable talking to complete strangers the way he was, she
wouldn’t have known what to say, and if she had known, she wouldn’t
have been able to get a word in edgewise anyway.
Finally, people started making their way to long rows of tables and
Jany suggested that she and Paul follow suit. He agreed, just as
Jany had suspected he would. He was a big fan of following the
crowd. Paul continued talking to everyone around them while they
waited for their dinner to be served. When he glanced in Jany’s
direction, she shot him a look that was meant to warn him to go easy
on people, but he must have taken it as a plea to include her. He
looked earnestly at the man and woman seated directly across from
“The polite thing to do is to introduce the rest of your party to
anyone you have a conversation with,” he told them. “This is my
Jany’s cheeks blew up and she almost spit out the water she had been
in the process of drinking. Somehow, in all the flurry and
awkwardness, she had stopped thinking about the whole thing as a
date. Besides, she wasn’t used to being described as a person’s
date, and furthermore, after seeing the way Paul was boring everyone
around him to tears, she wasn’t sure she wanted anyone to know she
was his date. Too late now, though. She composed herself
and smiled a bright, fake smile across the table.
“It’s Jany,” she told them, and extended her hand. Normally, she
wouldn’t have corrected him, but she was already so flustered that
she did it without thinking. Luckily, they were interrupted then by
a couple of girls who were delivering plates of salad and cups of
The rest of the night dragged by. Jany was sure there must be some
interesting people in the crowd, but they weren’t the ones Paul
chose to talk to, and Jany lacked the courage to approach anyone on
her own. He spoke mostly to people who were there because they felt
it was their civic duty to donate, or because they truly wanted to
help the cause, not the ones who were there to celebrate the holiday
season or have fun. Paul did ask Jany if she wanted to dance, but
she feigned a headache. The people who were dancing were performing
a dizzying array of fancy steps that Jany knew she would be unable
to mimic, especially in her semi-high-heeled shoes. And she wasn’t
exactly in the same kind of physical shape they were in, either. It
was definitely not worth the risk of looking like a fat, clumsy ox.
She was overjoyed when Paul suggested they go up to the balcony to
watch the dancing from there. It didn’t feel so much like she was
disappointing him if they did something he wanted to do.
They stood and watched the dance floor for a while before Paul
suddenly glanced at his watch.
“Oh my God! Look, it’s tomorrow!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah! It’s midnight! I need to get home to bed!”
Jany was only able to refrain from laughing because she was so
grateful for an excuse to leave. She stood up carefully and they
headed down from the balcony. As they approached the top of the
stairs, Paul reached out and hooked his right arm around her left
“Wouldn’t your parents be proud to see you now?”
While Jany struggled to come up with an appropriate response, they
slowly began to descend, arms tightly linked. They were six or
eight steps up from the bottom when Paul looked to the left.
“Everything looks so Christmassy. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
He turned to see more of the vista. In fact, he was so intent on
taking in the beauty that instead of turning just his head, he
turned his entire body. He was still tightly gripping Jany’s arm in
the bend of his elbow, and so he pulled her along with him.
Unfortunately, she was in the process of taking a step when he did.
She missed the step completely and felt intense panic for just a
second as she teetered, failed to find her footing, and bounced down
the last few stairs to land on the floor with her skirt just about
over the top of her head and her ankle twisted at an unhealthy angle
Paul didn’t seem to notice at first, even though his arm had
disengaged with Jany’s when she fell. Then he looked around,
“Jany? Jany? Jany!” He looked every which way but down.
“Uh, I’m down here,” she called weakly.
“Oh, my God! Are you okay? You should be more careful! What
happened? Are you okay, Jany?”
Jany couldn’t bring herself to tell him that she hadn’t fallen, that
he had actually thrown her down the stairs. Her ankle felt like it
had snapped in two, although she was pretty sure it was just
sprained. Paul was making his way down the stairs with a look of
horror on his face.
“Do you want me to help?” he asked, reaching for her arm.
It took every bit of self control Jany had to keep from screaming,
“Don’t touch me!” as she pulled her dress down around her and ducked
out of his reach.
Within seconds, a crowd of people had congregated. Paul was dancing
madly around her in an attempt to help.
“Oh, my goodness, darling, are you all right?” one lady asked.
“What happened?” another chimed in.
“Do you need an ambulance?” asked a man with a cell phone in his
“Yeah! An ambulance. Do you need to go to the hospital?” Paul
called out. “I can take you. Get in my car. Do you need an
“No. No, I’m fine,” Jany told them all. “It’s just a sprain, I’m
sure.” The only thing that was really hurt was her pride, and that
would have been fine if only Paul hadn’t yelled so loudly and drawn
A half hour later, Jany was clinging to the shoulders of two men and
hobbling back to the bus stop. Paul was following behind them with
Jany’s purse cradled carefully in his arms. The men waited with
Paul and Jany for the bus and helped her aboard when it came. Paul
followed them in and sat next to her.
“Um, Paul? Your car is here, remember? Are you—are you getting
“No. I called my dad and he said that if something like this
happens, it’s the polite thing to do to take you home. It’s okay to
stay out late. So I am coming with you.” He stood up suddenly and
jerked toward the front of the bus. “No, wait! I have to go! I
only paid to park until midnight! I have to go pay for the rest of
the night!” He leapt down the steps of the bus, calling over his
shoulder for the bus driver to wait for him. The bus driver, of
course, honored his schedule and not Paul’s request. Paul was
barely ten feet from the bus when the driver pulled away from the
curb. Paul turned to stare at the bus with a look of terror on his
face. Jany smiled at him as she waved goodbye through the window,
put her injured leg up on the seat, and settled back to enjoy a
quiet ride home.