I am on my way home from getting weighed at the doctor’s. The #71 bus leaves me off at Watertown Square. The walk home is about 12 minutes. I decide to buy diet cola on my way home. Tedeschi’s sells their own brand of cola for 99 cents (plus MA bottle deposit 5 cents) so I decide to stop there.
But I am afraid to walk into my apartment building carrying a bottle of diet soda. I don’t want to be seen with it. What will people think? What will people say? That I am too skinny to be drinking it? That I probably drink it instead of eating? That I have no “right” to drink diet soda? That diet soda is bad for you? That I should drink something with calories in it instead? That it would “just figure”?
Probably, they won’t say or think anything, but my anorexic mind goes to all sorts of places when it comes to my neighbors and the people in the adjacent housing offices here.
The knapsack I was using was the smaller one that I own that isn’t big enough for a 2-liter bottle, and I curse myself for forgetting a shopping bag. Plastic bags don’t cut it. They destroy the environment. But that’s not the real reason. The real reason is that they are see-through. You can see it’s soda. You can see “diet cola” right through the plastic.
I knew I would have to walk by my neighbors and the people in the housing offices. What is the worst of the evils? The front door is the worst. I have to walk by the people hanging out in the front, the main office, and the people hanging out in the hallway. That plus the offices in the hall. Most of my neighbors speak a foreign language and I don’t want to know what they say. Again, in my mind, I translate what they say, and it’s all about me.
Then there is the elevator entrance. Not so bad, but the people in the hallway still see me, and I still have to walk by the offices. Then there is cutting through the dining room, where my former neighbors come to join the community lunch sometimes. I like seeing them and find them friendly, but they are always commenting on my weight. One of them says I look very “svelt.” I think she likes the way I look. Unreal. So…I can’t go through the dining room, can I? With a bottle of diet soda?
I must, must, must, buy a shopping bag or something to carry the soda in. I look in the CVS. I don’t like any of the bags there. The handles are too long. Why do they make these bags for very, very tall people? I already have two canvas bags. What do I need a third for? They should sell canvas bags for 50 cents, not four bucks. They are for saving the environment, after all. And hiding diet soda. I start to leave the store, and nearly bump into someone. The guy says, loudly, “Jesus Christ!” I hurry out of there. Just another obsessed, day-dreaming skinny girl, trying desperately hard to buy diet soda in secret.
I arrive at Tedeschi’s. I ask the guy, “Do you sell shopping bags?” Like the gal at the CVS, he offers me a plastic bag. I say, “No, a bag to save plastic. A cloth shopping bag.” He shows me a plastic bag that you spend money on. These plastic bags are heavy duty and not see through, but are throw-away and cost a whopping 99 cents! The same price as the soda! This thick plastic will never biodegrade. I am tempted, though, because I can easily use the bag to hide the soda, but now, I have an idea….
I get the soda out of the refrigerator, checking over and over that it is “diet” and not regular. I check again as I bring the soda to the counter, and again as I place it down. I pay for it. Do I want a plastic bag or not? I do. I wrap the soda in the bag, around and around as best as I can, then carry it by its rim home.
When I arrive at the side door, I turn the bottle so that “diet cola” is facing inward and so that it is not visible to an onlooker. I double-check that this is the case. I fold up my umbrella and carry it loosely over the bottle so no one will notice that I am carrying soda. Surely, my sick mind thinks, they will wonder if I’m drinking “diet” or regular. Another thought: Will they think I’m hiding a bottle of liquor? No, it’s not wrapped in paper, but….
Okay, I’m coming in the side door–will it be the elevator, or through the dining room, and up the back stairs? I peek in the dining room. It is nearly empty. Wow! Opportunity! I cut through, still keeping my precious bottle hidden. I slip up the back, and hurry to my apartment.
Unlocking the door, I step in, put down the bottle and my things, take off my jacket, and greet Puzzle. It’s August and it’s fucking freezing in here. Sevent7-three degrees. I switch on the space heater, with intention of running it until it’s up to at least 79. I check my e-mail.
Then, I open the bottle and pour myself several glasses of Tedeschi brand diet cola. In one sitting, I consume half the two-liter bottle.
Nobody has to know.